Police drop investigation and apologise to Catholic woman who was told ‘praying is an offence’

A woman who was arrested for silently praying outside an abortion clinic will not face charges and has been given an apology by police for her six-month ordeal, according to The Daily Mail.

Video showed Christian campaigner Isabel Vaughan-Spruce being confronted by police outside the BPAS Robert Clinic in Kings Norton, Birmingham, in February.

Officers from West Midlands Police told her ‘engaging in prayer’ was ‘the offence’ after she insisted she was ‘not protesting’.

The latter act could be an offence inside ‘buffer zone’ regulations introduced last year.

They make it illegal to intimidate or harass anyone within 150 metres of an abortion clinic.

Ms Vaughan-Spruce’s arrest came weeks after she was found not guilty by Birmingham Magistrates Court for silently praying outside the same clinic in December last year.

Now, police have said ‘there will be no further investigation’ into the February incident and have apologised to Ms Vaughan-Spruce, who is the director of anti-abortion group March for Life UK.

In an email to the campaigner, the police told her that they had dropped their investigation because the ‘limitation of proceedings’ had expired on September 6th.

They added: ‘I again apologise for the time this case has taken to come to this position.’

Speaking via charity ADF UK, which has campaigned against buffer zones, Ms Vaughan-Spruce said: ‘This isn’t 1984, but 2023 – I should never have been arrested or investigated simply for the thoughts I held in my own mind.

‘Silent prayer is never criminal. I welcome West Midland Police’s decision to end their investigation and their apology for the time it took to do so, but it’s important to highlight the extremely harmful implications of this ordeal not just for myself, but for everyone concerned with fundamental freedoms in the UK.

‘What happened to me signals to others that they too could face arrest, interrogation, investigation, and potential prosecution if caught exercising their basic freedom of thought.’

Ms Vaughan-Spruce added that she will now resume her practice of ‘praying silently for women in crisis pregnancies.’

The video that went viral showed officers asking Ms Vaughan-Spruce to ‘step outside the exclusion zone’ that exists around the Birmingham clinic.

However, she told officers that she was ‘not protesting’ and ‘not engaging in any of the activities prohibited’.

Police responded: ‘But you’ve said you’re engaging in prayer, which is the offence’, to which she replies: ‘Silent prayer.’

The officer then said: ‘No, but you were still engaging in prayer. It is an offence’, to which Ms Vaughan-Spruce answered: ‘I disagree.’

She was then arrested by six officers for breaching what is officially known as a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO).