What is it with the police and Scientology? Following clampdowns on protesters using the word 'cult' in relation to Scientology in London and Birmingham, a Scottish newspaper yesterday reported similar action by the police in Glasgow.
According to the Sunday Herald, protesters from the group Anonymous were told to remove banners calling Scientology a 'cult' and this was confirmed by a spokeswoman for Strathclyde police, who tried to justify the action:
"The word is not a breach of the peace in itself. However, in this case it was exacerbating the situation and our stance was that we had to remove that. From a policing point of view, a balance has to be struck between the right to assemble and hold a meeting and other persons' rights to go about their business or demonstrate without being obstructed or hindered."
The only trend that seems to be emerging here is a complete lack of consistency on the part of the police, with different forces reaching entirely different conclusions regarding the use of the word 'cult'. As I said on Friday, surely the fact that the Crown Prosecution Service found no problem with protesters using the word in the City of London set a precedent that police can't prevent its use in other parts of the country? At least according to my understanding of how the law works (if any readers know a bit more about the law, please do explain some more by commenting on this post).
It's certainly time this issue was cleared up once and for all. Either using the word 'cult' in relation to Scientology is fine, in which case it can be used anywhere in the country, or it isn't, in which case there's a serious free speech issue that needs to be contested.