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PRESS ADVISORY: Court hearing TOMORROW for Silently Praying Army Veteran

  • Father of two to appear at Poole Magistrates’ Court for praying, in his head, in abortion facility “buffer zone” – 10am tomorrow
  • VIDEO: “What is the nature of your prayer?” officers interrogate Adam Smith-Connor for “thoughtcrime”

DORSET, UK (15th November 2023) – Adam Smith-Connor, the army veteran criminally charged for praying silently in an abortion facility “buffer zone”, will appear before Poole Magistrates’ Court tomorrow at 10am GMT. 

Smith-Connor pleaded “not guilty” to breaking a local “buffer zone” ordinance last Winter at his first hearing in August. The regulation forbids “expression of approval or disapproval” of abortion, including through prayer.  

Supporting Adam Smith-Connor’s legal defense, ADF UK, contends that freedom of thought is protected absolutely through the Human Rights Act and therefore the Council has no power to introduce a prohibition on silent prayer.   

Despite the maximum fine for this offence being £1000, Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council have indicated to the Court that they have spent more than £25,000 from the public purse to prosecute the case and are seeking to recover those costs from Smith-Connor. 

Members of the public are invited to support Smith-Connor’s legal defence here.  

Adam served in Afghanistan to protect fundamental freedoms, not imagining that he would have to defend the most basic of freedoms for himself when he returned home. Everyone should be free to hold their own beliefs in the privacy of their own minds, including reflections about their own experiences of abortion. Both domestic and international law have long established freedom of thought as an absolute right that must never be interfered with by the state. 

“There are significant questions to be answered about the validity of a council both drafting its own Public Spaces Protection Order and prosecuting alleged breaches of it themselves – in effect, putting themselves in the position of judge, jury, and executioner on the issue of silent prayer and thought. The rule of law demands democratic accountability, prosecutorial independence and legislative clarity, all of which are manifestly lacking in this case,” said Jeremiah Igunnubole, legal counsel for ADF UK, the organisation supporting Adam Smith-Connor’s legal defence. 

An Abuse of Process 

At the abuse of process hearing tomorrow, the defence will argue that the police had previously assured Smith-Connor that “you’re allowed to stand here and do what you’re doing…this is England and it’s a public place and you’re entitled to do that.” (see the exchange captured on footage here). It will be argued that it is unjust, and an abuse of process, that he should be later fined following this reassurance. 

The defence will also raise concerns about the council’s prosecutorial independence noting in particular that the initial prosecution decision was changed only after pressure from the relevant abortion provider.  

Thoughtpolicing on UK Streets 

Bodycam footage shows Smith-Connor’s interaction with the authorities in which they question him as to “the nature of his prayer”. He explained that he was praying about his own experience of abortion, having arranged and paid for one twenty-two years ago, and the grief he has over the loss of his son. He also was praying for the men and women facing difficult decisions over the same issue today. 



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Smith-Connor later was issued notice of a penalty fine, despite being there for only a few minutes and praying silently in his mind, with his back turned away from the building. 

The notice acknowledged that he was being charged for “praying for his deceased son”. 

“You might think this is a story from Orwell’s 1984 – but in fact this is happening in England in 2023. “Thoughtcrimes” shouldn’t be prosecuted in the UK. Britain has a history of upholding human rights we can be proud of, and a respect for freedom that I fought to uphold when I served this country for twenty years in the army reserves, including in Afghanistan. I fought to defend our freedoms – but now my own freedom of thought is in jeopardy.  

How can we send our troops out to potentially make the ultimate sacrifice, when back home police are arresting people for peacefully practising their faith and offering charitable support to families in crisis? 

We recently celebrated Remembrance Sunday. But we do not truly “remember them”, if we forget the freedoms for which they sacrificed,” said Adam Smith-Connor ahead of his court appearance tomorrow.  

Smith-Connor later was issued notice of a penalty fine, despite being there for only a few minutes and praying silently in his mind, with his back turned away from the building. 


To request an interview with Adam Smith Connor and Jeremiah Igunnubole (legal counsel for ADF UK, supporting Smith-Connor’s defense) contact Lois McLatchie Miller on +447932512279 or [email protected].   

Pictured below: Jeremiah Igunnubole, legal counsel for ADF UK; Adam Smith-Connor; Isabel Vaughan-Spruce, who was found “not guilty” after being prosecuted for silently praying in an abortion facility “buffer zone”

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