Cafe owner Jamie Murray says British police have given a partial apology for telling him that his displaying Bible verses on a TV screen was a breach of public order.
Police questioned the café owner Tuesday at the peak of the lunch rush, pressuring him to pull the plug on the silent Scripture verses. Now, they have admitted they got the law wrong and have said they are sorry for the “manner” of their investigation.
“But they refused to apologize for launching the investigation and they also denied banning the display of the Bible texts in the café,” reports the website of the Christian Institute, a British advocacy group that is providing Murray with legal assistance.
Murray, says he accepts the police’s apology “as far as it goes,” reported the website:
He forgives them but he believes some important matters remain unaddressed.
Murray says he will not allow the police to brush the incident under the carpet, because he is worried that it could happen to another Christian.
Supported by The Christian Institute, he has taken legal advice and intends to lodge a formal complaint with the police.
The police claim they never told Mr Murray that he couldn’t display the Bible texts. But Murray says the police are obfuscating.
“Obfuscating” is a polite, rather British term for “lying.”
There also appears to be confusion over which part of the Public Order Act 1986 the police were using to justify their actions.
Originally two police officers told Murray they were investigating a possible Section 5 offence, which outlaws insulting words that are likely to cause distress.
But days later, police told the media they were investigating a possible Section 29E offence, which outlaws the broadcasting of offensive material intended to stir up homophobic hatred.
The Christian Institute’s solicitor-advocate, Sam Webster, says that simply displaying Bible texts in a Christian café does not fall within the scope of either offence.
The Christian Institute’s Mike Judge said: “Mr Murray is obviously pleased that the police have admitted to some of their mistakes. It is shuddering to think that a British police force in the 21st Century needs to be reminded of such basic civil liberties. There is clearly a need for Lancashire police force to review the training of its officers.”
Lancashire Police told the BBC: “It appears that the officer has misinterpreted the Public Order Act and we have apologized to the cafe owner for any distress we may have caused.”