The professional trial of a Christian therapist who tried to ‘convert’ a gay man has been halted after a witness was allegedly intimidated, Christian campaigners say.
However, the gay journalist who brought about the trial says that the claims are a “smear campaign” and that the therapist does not have any witnesses.
Lesley Pilkington was due before a panel of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy this week but one of her key witnesses is said to have received threats and menacing phones telling him or her not to attend the trial.
Ms Pilkington’s supporters say they are urging police to investigate the claims.
She was due to attend a hearing on Tuesday and may lose her professional licence after gay journalist and anti-conversion therapy campaigner Patrick Strudwick secretly recorded her trying to “cure” him of homosexuality.
But Mr Strudwick said that Ms Pilkington’s supporters were trying to discredit him and said that she did not have any witnesses because all parties were told that they would not be required nine days before the hearing was due to start.
A letter from the BACP to Mr Strudwick confirms that Ms Pilkington’s witnesses will not be called to appear before the panel.
Mr Strudwick added that witnesses’ personal details had been redacted on written statements so it was “impossible” for them to have been intimidated.
He said: “They are trying to discredit me and smear my name.”
“Every part of this is made up,” he added. “They are effectively accusing me of a crime.”
In a statement, the BACP said it had adjourned the hearing because it was “concerned that the confidential nature of [the] procedure was being compromised due to the disclosures made in the media”.
It added that it was “concerned” at the claims of intimidation.
Andrea Minichiello Williams, of the Christian Legal Centre, said yesterday that the “homosexual lobby” had been “extremely militant and sought to silence [Ms Pilkington] by threats and intimidation”.
She could not be reached for comment today.
The therapist, 60, told Mr Strudwick that his homosexuality was a “mental illness” and she could help him overcome it.
Mr Strudwick, who won several awards for his expose, was also told by Ms Pilkington that he must have been sexually abused as a child by a member of his family.
After visiting her for counselling in Chorleywood, Hertfordshire, he reported her to the BACP.
Ms Pilkington has accused him of entrapment.