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Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 January 2007, 15:43 GMT
Rights case over foetus pictures
An anti-abortion campaigner is claiming her human rights were breached when she was convicted for sending pictures of aborted foetuses to chemists.

Veronica Connolly was convicted in 2005 for sending the "offensive" pictures to chemists in Solihull, West Midlands who sold the morning-after pill.

The 51-year-old Roman Catholic from Sheldon, Birmingham, claims her freedom of speech was breached.

Judgement in her case was reserved by senior judges at London's High Court.

Mrs Connolly, who believes that abortion is a form of murder, claims she is engaged in a lawful protest and the conviction is a breach of her right to freedom of expression under the common law and articles of the European Convention on Human Rights.

We say this is protected speech of the highest political, social and religious nature
Paul Diamond

Her counsel, Paul Diamond, told the High Court that the act under which Mrs Connolly was convicted - the Malicious Communications Act - did not apply in matters of public interest such as abortion.

Mrs Connolly had been wrongly been charged under a law primarily devised to deal with the problem of "poison pen" letters and similar social evils, said Mr Diamond.

It was never her intention to cause anxiety or distress but to "educate and inform" individuals about the controversial issues of abortion.

Mr Diamond said: "We say this is protected speech of the highest political, social and religious nature relating to an issue of public concern, namely abortion."

Anti-abortion group

The charges against Mrs Connolly relate to pictures of aborted foetuses sent to Moss Pharmacy, Olton Pharmacy and Moss Pharmacy (Solihull) between January and March 2005.

Mrs Connolly, who has been described as "an activist" in the UK Life League, a militant anti-abortion group, started writing to pharmacies in 2004.

The court heard she admitted sending the foetus pictures, but maintained they were not indecent or grossly offensive.

Although the letters mostly appeared to have been opened by a supervisor, manager or head pharmacist, one had been opened by a member of staff whose relative had recently given birth to a still-born child.

Mrs Connolly was given a 12-month conditional discharge by Solihull magistrates in October 2005 and ordered to pay legal costs.

The conviction was later upheld by Coventry Crown Court.

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