Following a six-month investigation, Isabel Vaughan-Spruce, the pro-life activist who was arrested for silently praying outside a UK abortion centre, will not face charges.
West Midlands Police confirmed on Friday that they will not bring charges against Vaughan-Spruce, while issuing an apology due to the length of time taken to reach the decision announced today.
It brings an end to a six month ordeal for the pro-life advocate, which saw police tell the 40 days for life campaigner that her prayer was “an offence.”
The co-director of the March for Life UK’s arrest was filmed, with the footage going viral, showing her being searched and arrested by three police officers after saying that she ‘might be’ praying inside her head.
Public outcry ensued as millions of views were racked up on uploads of the video seen across the world, amid claims censorship zones are now resulting in the policing of thought and a limiting of freedom of religion.
After being cleared of all charges at a Birmingham court in February, she was arrested again in March for turning up to pray close to the abortion facility.
The case followed the introduction of 150 metre buffer zones imposed in the area last year. Police said today that there will be “no further investigation” into the February incident – and have apologised to the pro-life campaigner.
The Daily Mail reports that in an email to Vaughan-Spruce, police said they had dropped the investigation because the “limitation of proceedings” had expired on 6 September.
“I again apologise for the time this case has taken to come to this position,” police added.
Alliance Defending Freedom, the organisation which has represented the campaigner throughout her legal ordeal, today described the development as a “vindication.”
In a statement released through Alliance Defending Freedom after receiving the apology from West Midlands police, Ms Vaughan-Spruce said:
“This isn’t 1984, but 2023 – I should never have been arrested or investigated simply for the thoughts I held in my own mind. Silent prayer is never criminal."
“I welcome West Midland Police’s decision to end their investigation and their apology for the time it took to do so, but it’s important to highlight the extremely harmful implications of this ordeal not just for myself, but for everyone concerned with fundamental freedoms in the UK.
“What happened to me signals to others that they too could face arrest, interrogation, investigation, and potential prosecution if caught exercising their basic freedom of thought,” she said.
“Now that authorities have twice settled on the conclusion that silent prayer is not a crime – a conclusion also reached by the Home Secretary last week – I am thankful to resume my practice of praying silently for women in crisis pregnancies,” Vaughan-Spruce added.
You can watch Gript’s interview with Isabel Vaughan-Spruce here:
WATCH: “Police told me my prayer was an offence — I’m was arrested for my silent thoughts”: Isabel Vaughan-Spruce speaks to Gript about her experience of being arrested not only once, but twice, for praying near an abortion facility in Birmingham. https://t.co/IF7fna8jiG pic.twitter.com/71g3oeRLNG
— gript (@griptmedia) March 10, 2023
This article was originally published on Gript and is printed here with permission