News from Europe

Christian street preacher wins case after being fined for evangelising

A court in London has ruled that a Christian street preacher who was fined and prosecuted by the police for evangelising during lockdown did not break regulations or do anything illegal.


The London Magistrates Court ruled that Joshua Sutcliffe, 31, is “not guilty” as he “was outside and that he had a reasonable excuse as he was traveling to his place of work, as a worship leader,” said Christian Legal Centre, which supported the preacher, in a statement released Friday.

Sutcliffe was detained and surrounded by four police officers as he was preaching and handing out leaflets in North London’s Camden area on Good Friday last April. He was told he was in breach of COVID-19 lockdown regulations by being outdoors without a reasonable excuse.

He explained to the officers that he was a pastor and worship leader and was outdoors to provide charitable services. However, he was cautioned and received a fixed penalty notice of $80 (£60), according to Premier Christian News.

“Whilst he was in a gathering and therefore in breach of regulation 7, however, the parties were together and were allowed to rely on articles 9, 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights,” the magistrates said in the ruling. “Their gathering was limited in duration, and they were entitled to gather for street evangelising.”

“They treated me like a second-class citizen,” Sutcliffe was quoted in the statement as saying. “I am a Christian minister of the Gospel, which not so long ago was a treasured and respected vocation in the U.K.”

He added, “During times of need, people need the hope of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. That is what I do on a regular basis, I go to the streets and proclaim the hope and truth of the resurrection of Christ. I was doing this on Good Friday, one of the most important days in the Christian calendar to do this.”

Christians in the U.K. have been “easy targets” for the police during the pandemic “while other groups gathering in significant numbers have been favored by the police,” said Andrea Williams, the chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre.


Leave a reply