LA News Release, 20th August 2013: The Persecution of Alan Clifford: Preach the Gospel, Go to Jail?
The Persecution of Alan Clifford:
Preach the Gospel, Go to Jail?
On Saturday the 27th July 2013, the Norfolk LGBT Project held a Gay Pride demonstration in Norwich City Centre. This was visited by the Rev Dr Alan C. Clifford, Pastor of the Norwich Reformed Church and four members of his congregation. They handed out copies of two leaflets: Christ Can Cure – Good News for Gays and Jesus Christ – the Saviour we all need. On Monday the 29th July 2013, Dr Clifford sent out a report of his efforts to the local and national media and to various other persons who might be interested. To this he attached pdf copies of his two leaflets. One of the e-mail addresses on his list was the official contact address of the Norfolk LGBT Project. The leaders of this organisation contacted the police, saying that they had been offended by the contents of the pamphlets.
On Saturday the 17th August 2013, Dr Clifford was visited at his home by PC Arnold (PC1396) of Norfolk Constabulary. He was told that he had been accused of committing a homophobic hate crime. PC Arnold defined this to him as "having communicated by electronic means something likely to annoy or cause offence." He gave Dr Clifford two options. He could confess and pay an on the spot fine of £90, or he could produce a signed statement in defence of his actions. Dr Clifford chose the second of these options. He was then told that a senior police officer would look at his statement and decide whether it should be passed over to the Crown Prosecution Service for further action.
On Monday the 19th August 2013, Dr Clifford was told that his statement had been passed to the CPS, and that he might face a criminal prosecution under the Public Order Act 1986 for his alleged homophobic hate crime.
Dr Clifford's own account of all this can be read here on the Libertarian Alliance Blog.
The Libertarian Alliance Comment
Speaking today in London, Dr Sean Gabb, Director of the Libertarian Alliance, said the following:
These proceedings are a sinister attack on freedom of speech and freedom of worship.
We believe in the right to freedom of speech. This includes the right to say anything that is not a breach of some private right. It includes statements about public policy or alleged matters of fact. It certainly includes the right to give offence.
I have read Dr Clifford's two leaflets. They are neither insulting nor threatening. No reasonable person could have found them offensive. They simply state the settled opinion of mainstream Christianity on the sinfulness of homosexual activity. Even if they had been threatening and insulting, however, it would be Dr Clifford's right to publish them. If he causes offence, hard luck on those offended. They should have no right to legal protection against such views.
Our position on homosexuality is equally predicable. We believe that consenting adults should have the right to do as they please without intervention by the law. Speaking personally, I was an advocate at school in the 1970s of abolishing all the laws against homosexual activity. In 1991, I wrote the first account of the "Spanner" case - in which 15 men were prosecuted for consensual sado-masochism: one of them was convicted of "aiding and abetting an assault on himself"!. This has also been called the best account of the case. But freedom for homosexuals does not mean legal privilege against disapproval of what they do."
As for 'hate speech,' this means any statement that gives offence to the Establishment - that is, to the network of politicians, bureaucrats, educators, together with their friends and clients in the media and big business, who gain wealth, power and status from an enlarged, activist state. The purpose of this complaint against Dr Clifford is to silence him and anyone else inclined to speak out of turn. I do not believe that he will be prosecuted in open court. The case will be dropped long before then, not least because judges and juries are usually less corrupt than the prosecuting authorities. But the process is the punishment. The intention is to turn Dr Clifford's life upside down. This will warn him and others to be more careful in future.
The Libertarian Alliance calls on the authorities to drop these proceedings at once. We also call on the Peter Tatchell Foundation and other Establishment human rights groups to join in our condemnation of what has been done so far.
The Libertarian Alliance advocates the following with regard to freedom of speech:
- No controls of any kind on the expression of opinion on matters of public policy;
- The repeal of all laws that make it illegal to express opinions on matters of race, religion, sexuality, or any similar matter;
- The repeal of all laws against discrimination and incitement to discrimination on any grounds whatever;
- The abolition of the Human Rights Commission and all similar bodies;
- The cutting off of all tax-payer funding for any group that disagrees with the above.
We further note that the Norfolk LGBT Project is a registered charity (No.1129770). According to its 2012 accounts, its entire income was £41,021. Of this, £734, or 1.8 per cent, came from donations. £38,666, or 94.25 per cent, came via the National Health Service from the taxpayers.
How do you think the NHS should be spending our tax money? Should it be on providing medical treatment free at the point of use, or on paying for Establishment hate groups to go after dissenting ministers of religion? You may care to write to the relevant funding agencies:
Great Yarmouth PCT
Morton Peto Road
Harfeys Industrial Estate
1 Common Lane North
T: 01502 719500
Southern Norfolk PCT
T: 01603 813820
F: 01603 813865
North Norfolk PCT
T: 01263 710611
F: 01263 710645
West Norfolk PCT
T: 01553 816200
F: 01553 761104