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City anti-Scientology protestor avoids court summons

Prosecutors define 'threatening, abusive or insulting'

A teenage anti-Scientology protestor who was issued with notice of a court summons by City of London police will not be prosecuted, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has decided.

The boy was slapped with the notice at a demonstration by the Anonymous movement outside Scientology's UK HQ in the heart of London's financial district on 10 May.

Online campaigners were outraged after police said his sign reading "Scientology is not a religion, it's a dangerous cult" was a breach of Section Five of the Public Order Act 1986. City of London officers served notice despite the boy quoting a High Court ruling that branded the sect a cult.

A statement from City of London Police today sheepishly conceded that its officers have some legal boning up to do. It confirmed the case has been dropped, and said: "The CPS review of the case includes advice on what action or behaviour at a demonstration might be considered to be 'threatening, abusive or insulting'. The force's policing of future demonstrations will reflect this advice."

The CPS said: "Our advice is that it is not abusive or insulting and there is no offensiveness (as opposed to criticism), neither in the idea expressed nor in the mode of expression."

The BBC reports that the boy's proud mother called the decision "a victory for free speech".

Protestors who brandished similar slogans to the teenager at a simultaneous protest by Anonymous outside Scientology's Tottenham Court Road location, which was policed by the Met, were not ordered to lay down their placards.

Scientology is a sensitive subject for City of London police. The force's relationship to the organisation has been under close scrutiny since Chief Superintendant Kevin Hurley welcomed it to the square mile in 2006. It later emerged officers had accepted hospitality including tickets to a Tom Cruise film premiere. ®

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