When Baby 'A' was aborted, distressing photographs and a video of the event were taken. In an attempt to draw the attention of staff at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Kings Lynn to the horrors of such events, a 74-year-old anti-abortion campaigner, Edward Atkinson, of Downham Market sent copies of the photographs to the hospital's chief executive Ruth May.
The Norfolk hospital bosses not only informed the police but also struck Mr Atkinson off the waiting list for a hip transplant! The police in turn referred the matter to the Director of Public Prosecutions and ,it is reported, that they then dragged the nearly crippled Catholic from his home when they arrested him and held him on remand until he appeared in court.
In court Ruth May's secretary Christine Rogers said she was 'upset' when she opened the letter from Atkinson containing a leaflet showing an aborted foetus. Hospital complaints and litigation manager Karl Perryman said that "as a father of two daughters he had been quite disturbed" by the images he had been shown. "It is upsetting for everyone", said the chief executive. "I believe people who work for the NHS, and particularly at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, are passionate about providing excellent care for their patients."
Atkinson was prosecuted in Swaffham for sending a malicious communication. The hearing, at Swaffham, was delayed for an hour when the accused refused to give the oath on the New Testament and a special Catholic version was borrowed from the Sacred Heart Convent School. Atkinson said the purpose of sending the images had been "to educate", adding:
I accept that the documentation was highly distressing. It's horrendous, monstrous and sickening but it represents the truth of what is going on in our world. Everyone in this courtroom knows that abortion is murder and no one has the guts to say it.In sentencing Atkinson, the judge said: "It is clear that you intended to shock and I am certain your purpose was to cause distress and anxiety."
For having forcefully exercised his right of free speech in protecting unborn babies and causing 'upset':
- On 4 May 2006, Atkinson was jailed for 28 days.
- Plus an extra 14 days in prison for non-payment of a £650 fine imposed in 2002 for a similar offence.
- Plus the old age pensioner was told that an order would also be made for £500 of the £700 court costs to be deducted direct from his pension.
- Plus he was given a five-year anti-social behaviour order and was told by district judge Phillip Brown that if he disobeyed the ASBO he faced five years in jail. But Atkinson replied "Then you may as well lock me up and throw away the key."
- Plus his area hospital now formally denies him all but treatment for life threatening illnesses
- Plus his area hospital has taken him off their waiting list for surgery on his hip justifying it with this statement: "Our legal advisers were consulted and their opinion was that this man's actions contravened the NHS Zero Tolerance policy in cases of abuse or unacceptable behaviour towards our staff."
Ted is likely to be released within about ten days, so readers who wish to express their support, either for his views or simply for his right to campaign effectively for them, should write to: Edward Atkinson, c/o HMP Norwich, Knox Road, Norwich, NR1 4LU