Who are Liverpool’s roadside anti-abortionists?
Meet CBR UK, the satanism-obsessed group whose former director is serving 17 years for attempting to kidnap a child
Disclaimer: this article features extremely graphic images of foetuses used by CBR UK to promote their cause.
Dear members — you may have seen them standing at the roadside as you drove through town, or huddled around a massive, disturbingly graphic poster in the city centre, and wondered: who are they, exactly? CBR UK have been protesting abortion with their signature tactics (holding up posters showing aborted foetuses) around Liverpool for a few years, but we wanted to delve deeper. What we found was comparisons between abortion and the holocaust, talk of satanism and a former director who is currently serving a 17 year sentence for attempted child kidnapping.
Reminder: If you want a chance to win a gallery-grade copy of Paul Cox’s beautiful map, The Pride of Merseyside, which has been provided on behalf of The Fence magazine, then get in touch at email@example.com with an answer to this question: How would you define a Scouser? A strange question to be asking perhaps, but our weekend read — provided by The Fence — will be exploring the slippery definitions of the term (so we assure you it isn’t totally random). The weirder/more original your answer the better. Trust us, you’ll want to get involved: it is a truly beautiful map.
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Paul Russell, the man who helped Thomas Cashman dispose of the clothes he was wearing when he shot Olivia Pratt-Korbel, has been sentenced to 22 months in prison. Mrs Justice Yip told the court she accepted that to many the sentence would seem lenient, but acknowledged that Russell had met police in the days after Olivia's death and told them “Tommy Cashman” was responsible, an act that could have put him at serious risk of harm. She also noted that while Russell would have known he was likely helping Cashman evade justice for a serious crime, he did not know a child had been killed at that point. “You cooperated. All of this puts you in a very different situation than others who have chosen to remain silent,” the judge said. Russell will likely only spend a few months in jail when his time spent on remand is taken into account, as well as the fact most offenders are eligible for release at the halfway point. Olivia’s father John Pratt was heard saying “joke” as the sentence was read out. Russell will have to assume a new identity upon release.
The Liberal Democrat candidate for Wavertree Village ward, Laurence Sidorczuk, has apologised for disrespectful behaviour on the campaign trail. On Tuesday a screenshotted statement from Jacquie Johnstone, the manager at Damien John Kelly House (DJK) — a centre for recovering addicts — described how Sidorczuk had entered the facility demanding to know why his election posters had been taken down from the window, and requesting they be put back up. Sidorczuk allegedly ignored requests for him to leave and instead “started ranting about how he was a community champion”. Sidorczuk told the Echo he wanted to “apologise for any hurt or ill feeling”.
Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold is launching an academy to support young footballers who are released from professional academies. Three-quarters of players in academies are dropped between the ages of 13 and 16, many of whose lives up to that point had been entirely dedicated to trying to make it as a footballer. For Jeremy Wisten, who was released by Manchester City at 16, it eventually led to his suicide. Alexander-Arnold is funding his project personally, saying he had “seen first-hand the struggles and difficulties players have when they're released from football clubs and it’s gone on too long and now it’s time for change”.
🎷 Africa Oyé — Sefton Park’s beloved annual festival of African music (the largest of its kind in the UK) — has announced its headliners. Seun Kuti, son of afrobeat legend Fela Kuti, will play Sunday with his band Egypt 80. Dancehall and reggae artist Tanya Stephens will close proceedings. The festival is on 17/18 June and all information can be found on their website.
⛪️ Live music in one of England’s most spectacular Grade I listed churches — St Michael-in-the-Hamlet — who are raising money to support Toxteth Women’s Centre. Entry is £5, worth it for the stained glass windows alone. More here.
🎨 Want to hear the stories behind the art you’ve seen on the walls of Liverpool? From giant images of Jordan Henderson and Alan Hansen to Liver birds and bottles of Campari, Paul Curtis — Liverpool’s pre-eminent street mural-maker — takes you on a tour of his best work. It’s £10 and covers two to three miles.
By Jack Walton
A few weeks ago, a small group gathered on Mather Avenue in south Liverpool, outside the now-closed Allerton Community Fire Station. They had a massive poster depicting the bloodied mess of an aborted foetus.
Throughout the day, a number of people approached the group, while others just walked on by bemused. A Reddit thread popped up after the event, with one commenter describing “the biggest poster I’ve ever seen” and asking: “wtf is with the abortion protestors??” 256 people commented on the thread, but not one seemed to know who the group actually were.
I pinged a few messages off, initially with little luck. Thankfully, an anonymous Post tipster was on the ball and provided a photo of the group on the day, taken from across the road. If you zoom in on that photo, a bearded man can be seen quite clearly. And that man looked eerily similar to a man seen in a tweet by LGBTQ rights group Reclaim Pride last year, about the Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform UK (also known as CBR UK), the well-established anti-abortion UK spinoff of the American Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform. Sure enough, it was a match.
A cursory scroll down CBR UK’s Instagram page shows that shock tactics are the group’s to-go. Amid the extremely graphic imagery, you’ll see a post on Holocaust Memorial Day describing the mass extermination of Jews and asking “Does this sound familiar?”, the statement “Satanic Temple: Abortion is a Religious Ritual” and a flyer advertising an event at which a man named Wilfred Wong will be talking about “Satanic Ritual abuse and abortion.” More on Wong later.
Elsewhere on the group’s website, anti-abortion sentiments blur into other viewpoints, like one about the use of an “aborted foetal cell line used in the production of the Covid-19 vaccines”. Previous undercover reporting on the CBR UK at an event in London found speakers talking about how “the homosexual agenda is one front of the Satanic revolution” (CBR UK told me this statement is not “within the scope of the group” but probably refers to “the satanic/Luciferian agenda to destroy traditional marriage” rather than suggesting that all homosexuals are satanic). It seems to be a case of American culture wars and conspiracy theories being imported across the Atlantic. Indeed, at the far-right Save The Children protests in the US in 2020, allegations about Satanism were front and centre.
CBR UK’s Liverpool presence consists of roughly a dozen people: a taxi driver, an education worker, a pastor, an accountant and so on. It appears to be headed up by a woman called Jane Lawrence. They carry out what they term “public education displays” across all six boroughs of the city region on a monthly basis. They’ve been at it for half a decade now. According to a Q&A on their website, Lawrence’s earliest “vague” memory of this kind of thing was engaging in a debate during sixth form, and arguing from a “pro-life” perspective, despite being an atheist.
She started getting actively involved after she moved to Turkey. She says she “cried for three days” when a friend had an abortion and started praying regularly with a few others, as well as “producing materials in Turkish”. By 2000, Lawrence was back in Liverpool, and by 2018 she joined CBR UK, “convinced that using images on the street was the right thing to do”.
Speaking to The Post, a spokesperson for group told us that the reaction in Liverpool is often spikier than elsewhere in the country. “Having taken part in similar educational displays in London, Manchester and Birmingham, certain people in Liverpool seem to be less tolerant of freedom of expression,” they say, referring to an incident in which one of their displays was destroyed.
Last year, a big feature appeared in the Sunday Times featuring CBR UK, entitled: “Young, Christian and gaining momentum: meet Britain’s anti-abortionists”. It focused on the age of the movement, speaking to protestors in their 20s and 30s and describing them as “young, educated and religious”.
“You can either believe that America has gone mad,” Christian Hacking, one of the group’s young members, told the paper, “or you can face up to the fact that there are loads of sane people in America who have an issue with the constitutional right to kill. It is not as niche or as marginal as people think it is.”
It seems somewhat odd that the Sunday Times chose to write such a large piece without touching upon the claims of Satanism, the comparisons between abortion and the Holocaust or indeed the most concerning name to have been associated with this organisation in recent years: Wilfred Wong.
Wong is a believer in a conspiracy theory called Satanic Ritual Abuse (SRA), which refers to the debunked idea that thousands of children every year are kidnapped and tortured to death in horrific ceremonies that involve drinking blood and eating flesh.