CITY of London Police have been made to look exceedingly foolish following their issuing of a court summons to a teenager for displaying a sign that branded Scientology a “dangerous cult”.
Which, of course, is precisely what it is.
And today the boy’s protest was vindicated when the Crown Prosecution Service ruled the words were neither “abusive or insulting” to the church and no further action would be taken against him.
Police said they had “strongly advised” him to stop displaying the sign but he refused, citing a high court judgment from 1984 in which the organisation was described as a cult.
The summons was issued under the Public Order Act on the grounds that the sign incited religious hatred.
A file was passed to the CPS, which today told City of London police it would not be pursuing the boy through the courts.
A spokeswoman for the force 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.
A CPS spokesman added:
The teenager’s mother said the decision was “a victory for free speech”.
In consultation with the City of London police, we were asked whether the sign, which read ‘Scientology is not a religion it is a dangerous cult’, 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. No action will be taken against the individual.
We’re all incredibly proud of him. We advised him to take the placard down when we realised what was happening but he said ‘No, it’s my opinion and I have a right to express it.
The incident occurred on 10 May outside Scientology’s controversial Square Mile headquarters, at a rally spearheaded by the online activist movement Anonymous.
The City of London Scientology building opened in 2006. The financial district’s police force was heavily criticised at the time for their apparent endorsement of the sect. Kevin Hurley, the force’s Chief Superintendent praised its work for bringing “positive good” at the opening of the multimillion-pound site, and it later emerged that officers had accepted hospitality from Scientology, including tickets to film premieres, lunches and concerts at police premises. The organisation also made donations of thousands of pounds to the City of London Children’s Charity.