THE ENGLISH INQUISITION; Eighty -Minute Police Interrogation for Couple Who Dared to Suggest Displaying Christian Literature Next to Gay Leaflets in a Town Hall

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Byline: STEVE DOUGHTY

A RETIRED couple were questioned at length by police after complaining about a council's gay rights campaign.

Two officers arrived at the home of devout Christians Joe and Helen Roberts to 'educate'them out of their belief that homosexual behaviour is wrong.

They were interrogated for 80 minutes about 'homophobic' views expressed in a phone call and letter in which the couple asked if Christian literature could be displayed alongside gay rights leaflets.

Saying their actions were close to 'a hate crime', the officers warned Mr and Mrs Roberts they were 'walking on eggshells'. Mr Roberts, a 73-year-old former carpenter, said last night: 'There must be better ways for them to spend their time. I have never been in trouble with the law.' The inquisition in Fleetwood, Lancashire, is the latest in a series of incidents in which police have acted against those who oppose the gay rights lobby.

It provoked fury from Christian groups, who said the police behaviour was ' alarming' and 'intimidating'.

The town's Labour MP, Joan Humble, said the council and police had been 'heavy-handed'.

Lancashire Police found time to visit the Roberts even though the county has experienced a steep rise in violent crimes. Last year there was a 17 per cent increase, almost three times the national average.

The force described the visit as 'a matter of routine' after a complaint from the council and added: 'Words of suitable advice were given and we will not be taking any further action.' Mr Roberts and his 68-year-old wife, who have six grownup children, had complained to Wyre Borough Council over its pro-gay policies, which include distributing gay rights literature in council buildings and promoting its theatre as a venue for civil partnership celebrations. …