Grandmother challenges fine for ‘solitary prayer walk’ during COVID-19 lockdown

Rosa Lalor. | ADF UK.

A 76-year-old grandmother is seeking to overturn a fine she received for taking a “solitary prayer walk” during a COVID-19 lockdown in England.

Rosa Lalor intends to challenge the fine in court with assistance from the Christian legal group ADF UK.

“I have always respected the law and never wished to be involved in legal action, but having been fined simply for praying whilst walking, I know this is an important challenge to take forward,” she said.

“With support from ADF UK, I’m taking a stand to protect fundamental freedoms for all people.”

Lalor engaged in regular prayer walks during a nationwide lockdown in England in 2021, when daily exercise outdoors was permitted.

On Feb. 24, 2021, she left her home in Liverpool and went for a prayer walk near an abortion facility. She wore a mask, walked alone, and maintained a social distance from others.

A police officer stopped her and asked why she was outdoors. When she replied that she was “walking and praying,” the officer reportedly said that she did not have a “reasonable excuse” to be outside and accused her of engaging in a protest.

Lalor was arrested, detained in a police car, charged, and fined £200 under temporary coronavirus measures.

She said: “I never thought that in a democratic country like the UK I would be arrested for a simple and solitary prayer walk. When I was walking outdoors, I was praying in the privacy of my own mind.”

“What kind of society are we when people can be arrested simply for peacefully manifesting their faith in public?”

Lalor has pleaded “not guilty” to the charge, but her case has not been heard because of a backlog.

Jeremiah Igunnubole, legal counsel for ADF UK, said: “The right to express faith in a public space, including silent prayer, is a fundamental right protected in both domestic and international law.”

“Whether under coronavirus regulations or any other law, it is the duty of the police to uphold, rather than erode, the rights and freedoms of women like Rosa.”

“Such arrests subject otherwise law-abiding individuals to distressing and drawn-out criminal proceedings, leading to a chilling effect on freedom of expression and religion generally.”

Source: CNA