UK Christian street preacher awarded R44 000 for wrongful arrest

Oluwole Ilesanmi.

Originally published in The Christian Institute 

Oluwole Ilesanmi was preaching in London when he was arrested on suspicion of committing a hate crime and had his Bible confiscated by police.

He was later released without charge.

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Hate speech
Ilesanmi was preaching outside Southgate Tube station when he was approached by two officers. A passer-by had accused him of hate speech for criticising Islam.

He acknowledged he had described Islam as an aberration but insisted he was simply expressing his point of view.

Ilesanmi was taken to a police car and his Bible was taken away. When he complained an officer told him: “You should have thought about that before being racist.”

He was then driven nearly 6km away before being “de-arrested”.

Free speech
Mr Ilesanmi has been awarded £2,500 (R44 000) for wrongful arrest and his humiliating and distressing treatment. He was supported by the Christian Legal Centre.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: “The Met respects and upholds the rights of all individuals to practise freedom of speech, and this includes street preachers of all religions and backgrounds.”

In June 2018, Avon and Somerset Police wrongly issued a dispersal order to Dale McAlpine and a group of street preachers, threatening them with arrest for preaching in Bath during their annual tour.

But following assistance from The Christian Institute, Avon and Somerset Police issued an apology and promised to ensure all staff “understand the importance of freedom of expression”.

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