ASA uphold complaint
Private prosecution planned: see update.
CPS refuse to prosecure
GPA spokesman Kevin Boyle, in an interview on Christian radio statioin Premier Radio, said he found it 'devastating' that Christians were offended, and would 'obviously offer apologies'.
NB contrary to the Catholic Herald headline, this was not an apology from the 'Police'. Boyle's apology is welcome, but the advert was clearly intended to be controversial, as the GPA admitted at the time; they also admitted that they decided against a parallel advert featuring the Koran.
Christian Concern for Our Nation email: 'Many of you may have heard about or seen the Gay Police Association's advert, published in the Independent on 29 June, which features a picture of the Bible next to a pool of blood beneath the title 'In the name of the father'. Many of you have asked for further information on what to do. We hope this email and its attachments will be of assistance to you. The advert is about homophobic violence and impliedly accuses Christians of bearing the responsibility for an alleged 74% increase in homophobic 'incidents' this year. Clearly this is a hurtful, antagonistic, and above all, false, claim to be made in a national newspaper. We would urge everyone who feels strongly about this issue to look at the advert and then respond to one or all of the following organisations: (1) Independent Police Complaints Commission; (2) The Advertising Standards Authority; (3) The Press Complaints Commission; and (4) The Independent Newspaper. Following an extremely high number of complaints, the police investigation into this issue has been transferred to Holborn Police Station. All metropolitan police stations have been told not to open any further files relating to the advert. This means that any new complaints will not be recorded on a new file, they will be forwarded to the Holborn officers who are handling the case. All complaints are still being recorded so it gives the police an extremely useful indicator of the strength of feeling on this issue simply by the number of complaints being made. The complaint is currently being considered by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) who will decide whether there is a case to answer. One of the CPS's criteria for deciding whether to prosecute, is whether it is in 'the public interest'. Therefore the more members of the public who feel strongly about the advert who actually contact the police, the more likely the CPS will be aware of the public interest in prosecuting. [http://www.christianconcernforournation.co.uk]
The Crown Prosecution Service
has announced that they had decided not to prosecute the Gay Police Association for any offence in relation to the publication of the advert in late June, depicting the Bible beside a pool of blood and accusing Christians of causing a 74% rise in incidents of violence against homosexuals. The following press release from the Lawyers' Christian Fellowship illustrates that it is a decision that is open to strong criticism. 'Just hours after announcing their decision not to prosecute the Gay Police Association for its controversial anti-Christian advert, placed in the Independent Newspaper, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and Metropolitan Police have come under fire for alleged double-standards. After taking almost 3 months to come to a decision, the CPS announced that there was 'insufficient evidence' to prosecute the Gay Police Association. The news has surprised many of the 50,000 organisations and individuals who formally registered complaints with the police after the advert, accusing Christians of causing a 74% increase in violence towards homosexuals in 2005, was placed in the Diversity section of The Independent newspaper in June of this year. Andrea Minichiello Williams, Public Policy Officer of the Lawyers' Christian Fellowship (LCF), commented 'what we find hard to understand is the appearance of discrimination against Christians by the police and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). In this case, the CPS has decided that despite thousands of complaints that the advert was misleading and insulting to Christianity and Christians, they will not prosecute. But what further evidence of the advert being an 'insulting' publication causing 'harassment, alarm or distress' which is religiously aggravated contrary to section 31 Crime and Disorder Order Act 1998 to Christians could be needed? The decision does not sit well with other prosecutions which the CPS has decided to pursue. In 2003 the CPS said that the evidence of a small group of homosexual protestors was sufficient to prosecute a Christian preacher who displayed a sign saying 'Stop homosexuality, Stop immorality. Jesus is Lord'. The CPS considered the small number of complaints sufficient to make out the test that the sign was 'insulting'. The policy is confused and is leading the police and the CPS to apply double standards'. Thomas Cordrey, a Public Policy Analyst at LCF, added 'At a time when the national media are picking up on the apparent Christianophobia prevalent in the behaviour of the police and other public bodies, it seems strange that once again the police and CPS have had such little regard for the views and opinions of Christians who make up such a sizable proportion of the population. Only recently Stephen Green was arrested for peacefully handing out Christian tracts which set out the Bible's teaching on practising homosexuality, whilst Muslim extremists are left to shout intimidatory hate abuse at Catholics with no sanction. In a world of competing rights and confused messages such behaviour by public authorities makes it increasingly hard for organisations like the Met to deny the accusations that they are Christianophobic'. It is astonishing that despite the LCF's formal letter of complaint on this matter we have never received a formal written acknowledgement or reply. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) have not yet issued their response on this matter If you are concerned about the Crown Prosecution decision and want to take it further please write to the Director of Public Prosecutions who is the head of the CPS. It would be good to ask about policy and how these decisions are made as everything seems to be very unclear. You can send an email to:
In light of 553 complaints, the ASA investigated the GPA under five headings, and upheld complaints under three of them. Thus:
1. Decency (suggestion that Christianity is homophobic): updeld
2. Decency (image of the Bible next to a pool of blood): not upheld
3. Violence and anti-social behaviour (incitement of violence against Christians): not upheld
4. Truthfulness (suggestion that the 'homophobic incidents' were violent): upheld
5. Substantiation (of the cited statistics): upheld.
The ASA's 'action':
"We told the GPA to ensure future campaigns were not presented in a way that could cause undue offence and also reminded them that they should ensure the use of imagery did not send misleading messages to consumers. We asked them to ensure any statistics could be substantiated and reminded them to show supporting data to the ASA upon request. "
For the full ASA report, see here.
For a BBC report, see here.
Private prosecution planned
The Reverend George Hargreaves, has made an application to the Director of Public Prosecutions (attached to this e-mail) to launch a private prosecution in the case. Mr Hargreaves, a member of the Metropolitan Police Service's Safer Neighbourhoods All Faith Forum Steering Group, and the Chair of the Metropolitan Police Service's Stop and Search Community Consultative Committee, has said that "I believe there is a case to answer in this matter, and that there is sufficient evidence to prove the necessary legal test set out in the Public Order Act. I also believe that it is not in the public interest for this case to be dropped - to do so would give the impression that Police officers are above the law". His views are echoed by many who cannot reconcile the decision by the CPS not to prosecute in this case, compared with the decision to prosecute Christians in situations where the evidence appeared to be less substantial.