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Last Updated: Saturday, 23 December 2006, 01:44 GMT
Police 'sorry' for moral quizzing
Joe and Helen Roberts

A Christian couple from Lancashire have been awarded 10,000 in an out-of-court settlement after they were questioned by police about their moral beliefs.

Helen and Joe Roberts, from Fleetwood, complained about taxpayers' money being used for leaflets about gay rights and called homosexuality "immoral".

Wyre Borough Council informed Lancashire Constabulary. Officers then quizzed the couple for over an hour.

The council and police said they had now apologised to the Roberts.

They also said policies had been revised to protect all parties.

Christian literature

Mr and Mrs Roberts had sued the police and council, claiming the incident last December had breached their rights to freedom of expression and freedom of religion.

A trial date had been set for January, according to the Christian Institute, which had backed the Roberts' case.

But in a joint statement, the police and council said they had come to an agreement regarding the claim and said they had apologised to the couple for "the way the incident was handled".

The institute said the incident began when the couple asked for Christian literature to be displayed alongside gay rights' literature and "were astonished when the council refused".

The institute said during her call to the council, Mrs Roberts expressed her religious belief that "homosexual practice is morally wrong".

The couple were shocked to receive a subsequent visit from two police officers who questioned them in their home.

'Anarchy' fear

Mr Roberts told the BBC he had told Wyre Borough Council he was willing to pay for Christian leaflets himself "but was told a definite no".

"Then it snowballed from there and that's why we had to take them to court," he said.

Mr Roberts added: "Morality is the foundation of democracy and when you do away with morality, your democracy goes down the Swannee and you end up with immorality and then anarchy."

"And all I was doing was just [to] challenge our council that all we wanted was the same rights as the gays and lesbians have."

The couple will donate the 10,000 settlement to a Christian charity.

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