Today the City of London Police have dropped the charges against a 16-year-old anti-Scientology protestor for using the word “cult” in a move the human rights group Liberty called a “free speech victory.”
Liberty’s Legal Director James Welch, who is advising the young man, said:
“At last an outbreak of common sense; but pretty worrying for free speech that the police even threatened this young man with prosecution. They may have ended their inquiries into this tawdry incident but rest assured that Liberty’s inquiry will continue.”
“Democracy is all about clashing ideas and the police should protect peaceful protest, not stifle it.”
The anti-Scientology protester, who as a minor cannot be named, was issued a summons by the City of London Police on 10 May for refusing to remove his sign reading: “Scientology is not a religion, it is a dangerous cult.”
The police said that his use of the word “cult” violated Section 5 of the Public Order Act (1986), which makes it an offence to display a sign which is threatening, insulting or abusive, within the hearing or sight of someone likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress by it. The boy was taking part in a group demonstration outside the Church of Scientology’s central London headquarters.
City of London Police today told the youth that they would not be pursuing the prosecution. Liberty is exploring the possibilities of action against the police amid concerns of police policy in this area.
See also: Teenager facing prosecution for calling Scientology 'cult'...
And this: Why I fled the Church of Scientology...