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Controversial pastor investigated by police over Norwich Pride comments

PUBLISHED: 07:41 29 August 2013 | UPDATED: 07:41 29 August 2013

The Norwich Pride parade. Picture: Denise Bradley

The Norwich Pride parade. Picture: Denise Bradley

copyright: Archant 2013

A controversial pastor of a Norwich church group is under police investigation after describing the annual Norwich Pride celebrations as an “unashamed carnival of perverted carnality”.

The Rev Dr Alan Clifford, of the Norwich Reformed Church, has regularly made local headlines over the years for his strong views on religion, homosexuality and many other issues.

He is now waiting to hear if he will face prosecution for his actions, which follow an open email which was sent to the organisers of Norwich Pride and was copied to several other sources, including the EDP and Norwich Evening News.

The email was unprompted and sent following this year’s Norwich Pride parade on Saturday, July 27, which saw around 5,000 people join the colourful celebrations of equality in the city centre.

Mr Clifford was one of five people to hold a “gospel witness” on Gentleman’s Walk as the parade made its way from Chapelfield Gardens, along Theatre Street and Gentleman’s Walk and then up Gaol Hill to the front of City Hall.

Mr Clifford explained in his email that he had approached a stall on Hayhill and asked for some of the official Norwich pride pamphlets – a stall from which he was banned by Norwich City Council in April 2012, for giving out “hate motivated” literature.

He then offered leaflets entitled Good News for Gays and Jesus Christ, the Saviour We All Need, saying: “You need them, they will do you good.”

Police then provided a buffer as Rev Clifford and his fellow protestors walked ahead of the Norwich Pride parade.

Mr Clifford continued: “The planned route took us past the market and the City Hall. Shamelessly displaying the City Council’s decadence, a ‘rainbow’ drape stretched along the entire width of the building. On the balcony the lord mayor [Keith Driver], resplendent in his ceremonial robes, waved to the crowd, supported by other members of the council. It was a truly shameful display of official support.”

A Norfolk Constabulary spokesman confirmed the email was being investigated, saying: “We can confirm a complaint has been received regarding offensive comments made in an email to Norwich Pride and the matter is being investigated.”

This year’s Norwich Pride parade was the fifth time the annual event had been held, and brought to a close a week of events, including talks about gay rights at The Forum.

A Norwich Pride spokesman said: “We received a very offensive email from Dr Alan Clifford immediately after this year’s Pride celebrations. It contained homophobic language.

“Our mission at Norwich Pride is to ensure that we live in a city where everyone feels safe and proud to be themselves – and nobody feels hated simply for being who they are. We reported the email to the police as a hate incident and are pleased that they are dealing with it seriously.”

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