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‘Peaceful Protest’ Appeal Conviction Refused

HMA v David Orr 2018

Mr Orr was found guilty of a breach of the peace for standing outside a church in Paisley while holding a sign that read “God hates Catholics” and “God hates the Kirk.” Mr Orr and his legal team appealed against his conviction stating that it was a ‘peaceful protest’ and that he did not cause anyone fear or alarm.

However, the Appeal Court has ruled that the sign was abusive and that it was “likely to cause a reasonable person to suffer fear or alarm,” as per the statutory breach of the peace. The appellant was also fined £400.00 and appealed against his sentence but again this was rejected as it was concluded it was not excessive.

Mr Orr has stood outside a church early on a Sunday morning where various members of they public were attending Sunday service with the Bishop and held the sign.

On conclusion, Sheriff Principal Turnbull said: “The appellant’s sign conveyed the message that all those attending the service (in other words, on a Sunday morning at that location, most of those reading the sign) were hated. In that context, it is perhaps worth noting that (unlike the message on the other side of the placard) the message was aimed directly at the persons likely to be reading it. Such behaviour is unacceptable in a tolerant, civilised society.” They concluded that this could cause the hypothetical reasonable person fear and alarm.

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