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Why was “Scientology is a Cult” Sign Confiscated in London?

Claim of Crown Prosecution Service advice contradicted

A conundrum: I reported this a few days ago, quoting SchNEWS:

At 11.20, two [City of London police] officers approached one 15-year-old who was wearing a huge-nosed mask and holding a sign saying “Scientology is not a religion – it is a dangerous cult”. He was handed a pre-printed warning by a WPC stating, “The sign you are displaying commits an offence under Section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986. you are strongly advised to remove the sign with immediate effect”.

…Police were clearly out to protect CoS’s reputation with one officer telling us, “Our solicitors at the Crown Prosecution Service have advised us that any signs saying ‘Scientology is a cult’ could be deemed offensive.” He added “They are being treated as a religious organisation for the purposes of today”.

But now the BBC gives us this:

A Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) spokesman said: “In consultation with the City of London Police, we were asked whether the sign was abusive or insulting.

“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.”

Was the police officer misinformed about the advice from the CPS, and if so, what was the real reason for the confiscation? Or is the CPS – still smarting from the Dispatches fiasco – backtracking? We may find out:

Human rights group Liberty has pledged to take action against City of London Police after the force tried to prosecute a teenager for branding Scientology a “cult”.

…Liberty, whose lawyers have been advising the 16-year-old, is now considering action against the force.

One Response

  1. […] the case also comes in the wake of police in London incorrectly warning a teenage protestor that signs describing Scientology a cult were illegal. In an age of increased […]

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