EALING Council is considering imposing a Public Spaces Protection Order on prayer vigils near the Marie Stopes abortion clinic in Mattock Lane, Ealing. 

This decision appears to be based on the council accepting at face value unsubstantiated accusations of harassment and insults directed at Marie Stopes staff and patients.

Two years ago, I represented a prayer vigil which was threatened with an injunction by Marie Stopes and similar allegations were made. 

I asked Marie Stopes to provide some evidence - any evidence at all - to support their accusations and they were unable to produce even one scrap of evidence. 

What was also significant was that the police also found no evidence, not even enough to justify an arrest and interview, let alone a charge.

The law of harassment already provides ample means of dealing with aggressive harassing behaviour and has been used successfully to deal with aggressive animal rights demonstrators and to impose exclusion zones where there is evidence of unacceptable behaviour.

The fact that this law has not been used with regard to abortion vigils is because there is no such unacceptable behaviour.

Ealing Council should beware of criminalising lawful behaviour based on mere unsubstantiated assertions.

Neil Addison (Barrister)

National Director
Thomas More Legal Centre