This sign is illegal in the UK

scientology is a cult

A protester outside Scientology’s London headquarters was ordered by police to take down a sign saying “Scientology is not a religion – it is a dangerous cult”. According to the anarchist newsletter Schnews the 15-year-old demonstrator, who goes by the name “The Epic Nose Guy”, was handed a written warning by a WPC stating,

The sign you are displaying commits an offence under Section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986. You are strongly advised to remove the sign with immediate effect.

One police officer told Schnews that,

Our solicitors at the Crown Prosecution Service have advised us that any signs saying ‘Scientology is a cult’ could be deemed offensive. They are being treated as a religious organisation for the purposes of today.

The CoS and the City of London Police appear to have a rather cosy relationship, with Chief Superintendent Kevin Hurley speaking at the opening of the London HQ in October, saying the science-fiction cultists were “raising the spiritual wealth of society”.

Here is Epic Nose Guy, who was given a court summons for refusing to remove his sign, explaining what happened on the day of the protest.

(Hat tip, Bartholomew)

UPDATE: (May 21) The Guardian has more information, including this quote from Shami Chakrabarti, the director of Liberty:

This barmy prosecution makes a mockery of Britain’s free speech traditions.

After criminalising the use of the word ‘cult’, perhaps the next step is to ban the words ‘war’ and ‘tax’ from peaceful demonstrations?

And from Ian Haworth, from the Cult Information Centre:

This is an extraordinary situation. If it wasn’t so serious it would be farcical. The police’s job is to protect and serve. Who is being served and who is being protected in this situation? I find it very worrying.

Scientology is well known to my organisation, and has been of great concern to me for 22 years. I get many calls from families with loved ones involved and ex-members who are in need of one form of help.

10 Responses to “This sign is illegal in the UK”

  1. Aharon says:

    Good on big-nose and pals!
    I wonder if there are any ex muslims/jews/cheristians/hindu/voodoo/etc. that protest somewhere the brainwashing techniques of their former organisations..

  2. Godalmighty. “Our solicitors at the Crown Prosecution Service have advised us that any signs saying ‘Scientology is a cult’ could be deemed offensive.” So what?! Is offensiveness actually illegal in the UK? I realize the Public Order Act makes offensiveness potentially illegal, but is it all so simple and straightforward that merely saying ‘X sign could be deemed offensive’ is enough to allow the cops to shut people up? Well jeez, welcome to Bangladesh.

  3. Rupert says:

    So what happens if statements like that from the police make people like me want to go out and cause public disorder in defence of our rights?

    I get very confused when the law is applied differently to different sorts of people. I’m never quite sure which bit applies to me. Perhaps the CPS could issue guidelines about who is allowed to insult whom?

  4. Britannia says:

    This is yet another example of capitulation to religions who seek to stifle debate or criticism and force every free-thinker into to submission. We are slowly, with the aid of our totalitarian government, many of whom are god squad members, being denied freedom of speech.
    Big-nose’s placard is stating a fact; examine the sentence, words and the definitions. It is very disturbing that people are being threatened with arrest for stating facts; Mr Stalin would be very proud!

  5. Elliott says:

    Egad! First the “Undercover Mosque” affair, and now this.
    The Stupid! It burns!

  6. jr says:

    This is completely fucked up. Is there any other example of a “religion” (or loony brainwashing cult dedicated to bilking idiots like the scientologists) having this sort of sway with the police / cps?

  7. marc draco says:

    Perhaps Big Nose got that slightly wrong. The CHURCH of Scientology practises in a cult-like fashion; however, the practise itself (as done by what the CoS calls squirrels) is not really any different to Christianity, Islam or [insert name of relgion here].

    The CoS has been implicated in a number of deaths, but it’s important to differentiate the religion from the organisation.

    They’re all a bunch of fucked up idiots if you as me though.

  8. jr says:

    According to he is being prosecuted under the Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006. This shows that the “safeguards” that were supposedly included in the act were in fact bullshit. This act must be repealed.

  9. TigerDunc says:

    They offered me stress test one day (Outside their HQ on Tottenham Court Road). I asked if they were medical professionals and if not, on what basis they thought they were qualified to diagnose stress. They asked me to leave, but creepily, as I was leaving, I saw one of them take my photograph. The Cunts of Scientology have a file on me! You have no idea how frightened I’m not.

  10. Stuart H. says:

    Said this elsewhere but I’ll point it out here too. There’s a UK charity called Cult Information Centre which offers advice on recognising and escaping cults – much of it emanating from ex-members and (has to be said despite those behind it) much quite useful.
    The main sponsors include C of E, Baptist Union and Evangelical Alliance. Are the police planning on arresting Joel Edwards, Archbish of Cant and their chums in the near future?