Reform Clause 1 – Feel Free To Annoy Me
His Grace wrote last week about the Government's plans for a new civil injunction to replace Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (Asbos), which amount to gross state interference with people’s private lives and basic freedoms. Home Secretary Theresa May aims to introduce wide-ranging new orders known as Ipnas (Injunctions to Prevent Nuisance and Annoyance), which will suppress anything deemed to be potentially annoying, however vague the justification. Yes, truly and incredibly, Christian preachers, harmless buskers and peaceful protesters could be driven off the streets – if not by the courts, by the over-zealous interpretation and application of this law by an imperious police force.
The House of Lords debated this Bill on Monday night, and Baroness Mallalieu QC delivered a bold and forthright speech against this proposed ‘nuisance and annoyance’ law.
The Christian Institute has announced the formation of a new campaign group, called ‘Reform Clause 1: Feel Free To Annoy Me’. It is a joint initiative of the Institute and the National Secular Society, with support from other civil liberty groups. We worked together to to get rid of 'insulting' from Section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986. We can do so again on this.
Being able to offend or annoy is one of the foundations of liberty. Freedom of speech must be tolerated, and everyone living in the United Kingdom must accept that they may be insulted about their own beliefs, or indeed be offended or annoyed, and that is something which they must simply endure, not least because some suffer fates far worse.
The Deputy Director of The Christian Institute, Simon Calvert, says the Bill presents "a real threat to public protest and free speech – including evangelism".
His Grace will let you know in due course how you may support the new Reform Clause 1 campaign. In the meantime, please pray against this draconian, illiberal and un-conservative legislation. The Christian Institute is developing an information hub for your convenience.