Adam Smith-Connor

A man who refused to pay a fine for praying silently near an abortion clinic will not face charges, it has emerged.

Mr Adam Smith-Connor welcomed Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole (BCP) Council’s decision not to pursue criminal proceedings against him, saying “nobody should be criminalised” for their thoughts.

In November, the Council fined Mr Smith-Connor after he admitted silently praying for those impacted by abortion within a council-imposed censorship zone around a British Pregnancy Advisory Service abortion centre in Bournemouth.

‘Fundamental rights’

After the statutory time limit for the BCP Council to begin a prosecution had lapsed, Mr Smith-Connor said “it’s not right that I had to wait anxiously for a full six months for the authorities to determine my fate. The process, in essence, became my punishment.

“It’s unthinkable that I was issued a penalty simply for praying about my own experience of abortion – having paid for my ex-girlfriend to have one – and my son, Jacob, whom I lost. The decision I made all those years ago now grieves me deeply.

“It isn’t for the authorities to determine the contents of my thoughts on this matter, on a public street. I served in Afghanistan to defend democratic freedom – and yet, we see this encroachment on fundamental rights on the streets of Britain today.”

Abortion thought crime

Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which supported Mr Smith-Connor throughout the ordeal, argued that all he was doing was “holding a belief in his head”.

“He was not manifesting his belief by doing some act having a potential to affect other persons. His act was purely internal.”

Jeremiah Igunnubole, Legal Counsel for ADF, explained that if Mr Smith-Connor had not been “praying in his mind about abortion”, he would not have been confronted by council officials, would not have been asked to leave the zone, and would not have been fined.


Earlier this year, pro-life campaigners arrested for praying silently near an abortion centre in Birmingham were fully vindicated.

A Magistrate dismissed cases brought against Isabel Vaughan-Spruce and Roman Catholic priest Sean Gough, after the Crown Prosecution Service offered no evidence of criminal activity and dropped the charges.

The Public Spaces Protection Orders in force around the centres in Bournemouth and Birmingham prohibit individuals from “engaging in any act of approval or disapproval” in relation to abortion, including “prayer or counselling”.

In October, MPs backed the introduction of similar zones across England and Wales.