Belfast Telegraph

Bernie Smyth cautioned after protest outside Marie Stopes centre in Belfast

By Amanda Ferguson

Anti-abortion campaigner Bernadette Smyth has been cautioned by the police for breaching a court order prohibiting harassment.

The Precious Life director was spotted outside the Marie Stopes reproductive and sexual health centre in Belfast today - days after a judge banned her from going within 20 yards of it.

On Wednesday the 52-year-old was sentenced at Belfast Magistrates Court to 100 hours' community service and banned from going within 20 yards of the Belfast clinic for five years after she was found guilty of harassing its director, Dawn Purvis.

In addition, she was ordered to pay the former MLA £2,000 in compensation.

At sentencing Deputy District Judge Holmes said: "The behaviour of stopping people, questioning them about why they were going into the premises, was a direct harassment of Dawn Purvis.

"You were harassing Dawn Purvis by harassing the people coming into the premises."

Mrs Smyth's solicitor said her conviction was "a disappointment for Christians worldwide".

Earlier today Mrs Smyth told the Belfast Telegraph she had the right to be outside the clinic as she was appealing her conviction but the police have since cautioned her.

Inspector Rosemary Thompson said: "This afternoon, Friday December 19, a woman was cautioned in the Great Victoria Street area of South Belfast in relation to breaching a court order prohibiting harassment."

Background

Dawn Purvis is the programme director at Marie Stopes Northern Ireland.
The sexual and reproductive health centre opened in Belfast city centre in October 2012.
The range of services available include: short and long-term contraceptive options; emergency contraception; HIV testing; STI testing and treatment; ultrasound scanning; and medical abortion up to nine weeks’ gestation, subject to legal criteria being met.
Ms Purvis is a former MLA and ex-leader of the Progressive Unionist Party.

Bernadette Smyth is the director of Precious Life anti-abortion charity, founded in 1997.
It wants the Marie Stopes clinic in Belfast to be closed.
Precious Life described itself as “the largest pro-life group in Northern Ireland and the only pro-life group actively working on the streets every day”.
According to its website the ‘Stop Marie Stopes’ campaign is “to prevent them from committing criminal offences of abortion in Northern Ireland”.

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