The request was under section 5 of the public order Act, which reads as follows:
"Section 5 - Harassment, alarm or distress
(1) A person is guilty of an offence if he - a) uses threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, or disorderly behaviour. or b) displays any writing, sign or other visible representation which is threatening, abusive or insulting, within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress thereby"
The protestor responded with a quote from Judge Latey, who in the Old Bailey in 1984 stated the following:
"Scientology is both immoral and socially obnoxious...It is corrupt sinister and dangerous. It is corrupt because it is based on lies and deceit and has its real objective money and power for Mr. Hubbard... It is sinister because it indulges in infamous practices both to its adherents who do not toe the line unquestionly and to those who criticize it or oppose it. It is dangerous because it is out to capture people and to indoctrinate and brainwash them so they become the unquestioning captives and tools of the cult, withdrawn from ordinary thought, living, and relationships with others."
He then refused to take the sign down. After fifteen minutes police officers returned, took down his details, and issued him with a court summons. This would mean facing not only the ordeal of a trip through the court system, but also the possibility of being publicly identified and at risk of the cult's notorious Fair Game policy (ironically the target of the very protest in question), which states that enemies of the Church of Scientology may be "tricked, sued, lied to or destroyed."
This is by no means an isolated incident. In Edinburgh, protestors were prevented from using a megaphone or saying the word "cult," and were confined to a small area. In Manchester, meanwhile, protestors were coralled into a small space by police units, chanting was forbidden, and rumour has it police dog squads were deployed. A few weeks before the most recent demonstration, a small group of protestors were confronted at Tottenham Court Road by a series of police vans and cars and forced to leave the area following a bogus complaint of harassment by the Scientology centre there.
Why are British police forces allowing a cult to harass its members through the legal system? How will this affect upcoming protests? Is there more to this than meets the eye?
- Interview with protestor issued with court summons, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tgq9xOWgmhs
- Previous incident at Tottenham Court Road (note false claim from the police that all protests require a permit), http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rx71t7WbBic
- Scientology gets police to push Narconon, http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/education/article3216965.ece
- Scientology and the City of London police, http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2006/nov/22/freedomofinformation.religion
- Scientology, the Metropolitan Police, and Number 10, https://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/regions/london/2008/04/396963.html
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