Philippa Stroud: Lawyers Send Letters, Supporters Speak Out

The PinkNews has a further article on Philippa Stroud, the neo-Pentecostal Conservative Parliamentary candidate who is claimed to have been involved in prayer sessions to expel demons from gay people a few years ago. Stroud has apparently been waving lawyers around:

…John Rubinstein, of law firm Rubinstein Phillips, is representing Mrs Stroud and confirmed that the company has contacted a number of media outlets reminding them of their duty under Section 106 of the Representation of the Peoples’ Act.

This makes it illegal to publish any false statement of fact in relation to the candidate’s personal character or conduct, unless the publication can show that they had reasonable grounds for believing that statement to be true.

A political activist fell foul of this law in 2007 after smearing a gay opponent; the lawyers in this case, though, seem to be cautioning against extrapolating from the Observer article to making excessive claims about Stroud, rather than seeking to suppress the story itself (it is apparently also distinct from “criminal libel”, which was used by the MP Julian Lewis against the late Simon Regan in the 1997 election campaign). Sunny Hundal suggests that this warning resulted in the story receiving less media coverage than it would otherwise have done.

A posting on Pam’s House Blend raised the same issue in rather more dramatic terms on Tuesday:

According to Kacey Jones… one of the people interviewed for the original article, “They [the BBC) will get sued by there [sic] lawyers if they do… [the] bbc would have got sued if they ran the story… They went all the way to Brighton to see AJ, and I did mine over the phone. Then the lawers jumped on it and stopped it.” This was confirmed independently by AJ Patterson, who said on Facebook that she has “been gagged. Did apiece with BBC, but they cant run it. They have lawyers I guess. What happened to justice…….what happened to peoples voices???????” In a later private message AJ said the line she received from the BBC was that “[Stroud] got lawyers and it come from quite high up.” Benjamin Cohen, the gay Channel 4 journalist, said yesterday on Twitter that he and colleague were fighting to get story out but there were “complications” – which implies that Channel 4 News are facing the same threats of legal action as the BBC.

In fact, Cohen wrote that his editor

said it was a good story but is rather hampered by the fact that Mrs Stroud hasn’t given interviews on the subject. We also haven’t been able to interview the people quoted in the Observer’s original investigation. All we have is an rather obscure book and claims by individuals who assert that Mrs Stroud had contact with them more than 10 years ago.

Meanwhile, Andrew Brown has highlighted a couple of messages from members of Stroud’s church, as an important counterbalance to the other reports:

…In my church I see a loving welcome to people from all cultures and backgrounds and determined efforts to serve the local community offering free no-strings attached English classes. If I witnessed a negative reaction to an openly gay attendee from some members I would question my place in the church and I would talk to leaders about it.

… I checked about praying for release from demons in my church and the guess is this has maybe happened four times in ten years, none of these related to homosexuality. Exorcism is practiced across Christian denominations including Church of England and by Muslims and Sikhs but it’s not something I’ve personally ever witnessed.

and

…As one who knows the church that the Strouds established, is a christian, worked on the social action project that supported the rough sleepers of Bedford and is bisexual i can CLARIFY that the church does not / has never cast demons out of gay people – I am loved and accepted in my church. I know 3 of the gay people who are quoted in the article and all 3 are using this 15 min of fame to air their anger and personal issues .

This all seems reasonable enough, although the situation may have changed since the early 1990s, when John Wimber’s “Power Evangelism” was all the rage and “spiritual warfare” was more strongly stressed across middle-class neo-Penteocostalism: the new movement had enjoyed remarkable rapid growth in the 1980s, and phenomena such as the “Toronto Blessing” prompted huge enthusiasm about God’s power to bring revival through miraculous interventions. But the growth spurt turned out to be temporary, as the pool of recruits from other, older, churches dried up; the supernatural interventions became less convincing (the nadir was perhaps the “God turned my fillings gold” craze of 1999); and the “deliverance ministry” was implicated in a series of excesses and scandals (see Roland Howard’s book Charismania and Stephen Parsons’ Ungodly Fear). There’s now more caution about supernatural interventions, and an understanding that  “deliverance” has many pitfalls.

Andrew Brown also offers this assessment:

The New Frontiers church to which Philippa Stroud belongs and where her husband is a major star is the fruit standard of fruit loopiness among English evangelical Christians. It was at a New Frontiers church in Brighton that I once went to hear the New Zealand evangelist Bill Surbritzky [sic], a man who believes that not merely homosexuality but smoking and swearing are caused by demonic infestation.

I have a copy of Bill Subritzky’s book Demons Defeated, and it is certainly one of the strangest items I have in my possession. Among much else, there’s an anecdote about guy who manifests a seagull demon after reading Jonathan Livingston Seagull, and there’s an incident in which God reveals to Subritzky – through a vision – that a woman has been indulging in oral sex.

2 Responses

  1. Richard
    Surely the Bible tells us all the way through that
    ALL sin – all the rebellion against God and his word comes from Satan – why should this particular view be wrong. You either believe Jesus or you don’t.

  2. […] Nadine Dorries' "Stalker" Smear used by Cyberbully as Justification for Harassment of Tim IrelandPhilippa Stroud: Lawyers Send Letters, Supporters Speak OutPhilippa Stroud Responds to Observer ArticleLinks Between Christians and the Conservative Party […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *