British Preacher Who Was Arrested While Preaching Gospel Wins Lawsuit Against Police, Gets Awarded $4,500

David McConnell
British street preacher David McConnell |

A preacher in England was awarded with legal costs and damages after winning a case against the police for his wrongful arrest.

David McConnell won the lawsuit against the West Yorkshire Police (WYPOL) over his arrest for simply sharing the Gospel in the street, accusing him of hate speech and "preaching on gay rights and abortion," The Christian Institute (CI), the legal organization that represented him, has said.

In December 2019, McConnell was preaching in the street of Huddersfield when some individuals interrupted him with questions on abortion and sexuality. He was arrested afterwards without telling him the reason and was only told to be given an explanation when they get to the police station.

However, when an officer listened to the recording of his sermon, the preacher was found to have not violated anything. He was held for almost six hours but was released without charge.

He recalled that before he was sent home, a desk sergeant told him about another case wherein a judge upheld the rights of the preachers to share the Word of God in the street. McConnell noted that the judge in that case said,

"Free speech includes not only the inoffensive but the irritating, the contentious, the eccentric, the heretical, the unwelcome and the provocative provided it does not tend to provoke violence. Freedom only to speak inoffensively is not worth having."

McConnell then sued the police station and last month, he won. WYPOL agreed to pay $4,500 (£3,250) in damages, in addition to his legal costs.

The preacher was grateful that the police admitted their mistake and also happy that he can now preach freely.

"I'm thankful that the police have admitted what they did was unlawful. It was a very distressing experience for me. But I'm glad I can put it behind me. I have to say that, when I am preaching now, the police in Huddersfield are very good with me. I'm glad I'm able to continue to share the good news of Jesus Christ," he said.

Simon Calvert, a deputy director at CI, said that the preacher's arrest was a breach of his human rights "and a failure to follow the laws governing arrest and detention."

"West Yorkshire did the right thing by admitting liability and the court has issued judgment in favour of Mr. McConnell. This case has re-affirmed the value and importance of free speech. Christian street preachers have got as much legal right to speak in public as anyone else," he continued.

Further, the deputy director stated that though they are glad of the police's admission, more actions have to be done to prevent such incidents in the future. He also suggested that the police should take "diversity training" for them to be reminded that "in a pluralistic and tolerant society, there is room for more than one opinion".

He added that the responsibilities of the police is upholding the law and not using its authority to enforce the cancel culture.

"Dissent from the orthodoxies of LGBT groups is not criminal. You can't have the police acting as enforcers for cancel culture, using the power of the state to silence unfashionable voices. That is not their job. Their job is to uphold the law for everyone, including Christians, without fear or favour," Calvert concluded.