Joe and Helen Roberts

In 2005 elderly Christians Joe and Helen Roberts, of Fleetwood in Lancashire, were subjected to 80 minutes of questioning by police officers.

The police were sent to the couple’s home after the couple had telephoned the local council to express their disagreement with its ‘gay rights’ policy. There was never any accusation that the couple had been impolite in their tone.

The two officers, from Lancashire Constabulary, told the Roberts they were responding to a reported “homophobic telephone call”. They said the couple were close to committing a ‘hate crime’ which carried a seven-year prison sentence and were “walking on eggshells”.

The Roberts lodged formal complaints but the police and the council refused to admit they had acted wrongly. The Roberts therefore began a legal action. In December 2006, in an out-of-court settlement, the police and council both admitted they were wrong in how they treated the Roberts.

They both paid costs and damages and said they would revise their procedures to avoid a repeat of the incident.

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