“The force came under fire in 2006 for accepting thousands of pounds of
hospitality from the Church of Scientology.”
Need we say more?
By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 11:38 AM on 21st May 2008
A 15-year-old facing prosecution for holding up a placard which branded
Scientology a “cult” has appealed for help to fight possible charges.
The unnamed teenager was served the summons by City of London police
after taking part in a peaceful demonstration opposite the Church’s
London headquarters, on May 10.
Demonstrators from the anti-Scientology group, Anonymous were outside
the church’s £23m headquarters near St Paul’s cathedral when the boy was
“strongly advised” by police to get rid of the sign which said:
“Scientology is not a religion, it is a dangerous cult”.
A policewoman later read him section five of the Public Order Act and
“strongly advised” him to remove the sign.
The section prohibits signs which have representations or words which
are threatening, abusive or insulting.
But the teenager refused, and a file is now being passed to the Crown
Prosecution Service for possible legal action.
Writing on an anti-Scientology website, the teenager says: “I need
precedents, legal advice, definitions and defences.
“I intend to make a big folder with all the defence you can give me, and
in case this does get through to court, I will be well prepared.
“Also, what’s the likelihood I’ll need a lawyer? If I do have to get
one, it’ll have to come out of my pocket money.”
Ian Haworth from the Cult Information Centre said he would avoid
labelling any organisation a “cult”, but said bringing the issue into
criminal rather than civil law would be “very serious”.
He added: “If it wasn’t so serious it would be farcical.
“I’m very upset by what appears to have happened. I hope the CPS realise
that this is an error and that nothing happens to this young man.”
Liberty director, Shami Chakrabarti, told the Guardian: “This barmy
prosecution makes a mockery of Britain’s free speech traditions.
“After criminalising the use of the word ‘cult’, perhaps the next step
is to ban the words ‘war’ and ‘tax’ from peaceful demonstrations?”
The teenager is seen in a video on YouTube quoting Mr Justice Latey as
having said in a court judgment in 1984 that Scientology was a “cult”
and was “corrupt, sinister and dangerous”.
However, a spokeswoman for City Police said they had received complaints
about the use of the words “cult” and “scientology kills” and warned
protestors their signs breached the Public Order Act.
Chief Supt Rob Bastable said: “City of London Police upholds the right
to demonstrate lawfully.
“But we have to balance that with the right of all sections of community
not to be alarmed, harassed or distressed as a result of other people’s
The force came under fire in 2006 for accepting thousands of pounds of
hospitality from the Church of Scientology.