Nigerian arrested for preaching gets compensated with £2,500

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A preacher who was halted from expressing his Christian views and driven four miles away by police has been awarded a £2,500 payout for wrongful arrest, it was reported today.

Oluwole Ilesanmi, 64, was wrongly accused of Islamophobia while he was preaching outside Southgate Tube station in London in February.

 

He was approached by two officers after a passer-by called police accusing him of hate speech.

Mr Ilesanmi admits describing Islam as an ‘aberration’ but said he was expressing his point of view as a Christian rather than denigrating Muslims, the Mail on Sunday reports.

A video of his confrontation with police and subsequent arrest has been viewed millions of times online.

In the video, a policeman takes his bible away. One of the police officers says: “You should’ve thought about that before being racist.”

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He was driven miles away and then de-arrested. The Met said they offered him a lift back.

Scotland Yard has agreed to pay Mr Ilesanmi £2,500 for wrongful arrest and his humiliating and distressing treatment.

A Met 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.

“However, if the language someone uses is perceived as being a potential hate crime, it is only right that we investigate.

“In this case, it was deemed appropriate to remove the man from the area.”

The Christian Legal Centre (CLC), who took up Mr Ilesanmi’s case, wants the Home Secretary to investigate guidance and training given to police officers nationwide on the freedom to preach in public.

Mr Ilesanmi will deliver a petition carrying over 38,000 signatures to new Home Secretary Priti Patel on Tuesday.

The CLC has also written to police bosses across the country asking them to uphold the freedom of speech of street preachers.

It will also send a copy of the letter to Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick.

Mr Ilesanmi said: “I am glad that the police have recognised that it was not right to arrest me for preaching from the Bible.

“It was traumatic being arrested and left many miles from my home. But God was always with me and even though I was left in a place I did not know, I was determined to get back to Southgate and start preaching the gospel again.”

Andrea Williams, Chief Executive of the Christian Legal Centre, said: “Street preaching has a long and honoured history in the UK. In many ways it is symbolic of the kind of freedoms we have treasured in this nation.

“However despite laws that theoretically support the freedom to preach in public, in practice, police officers are quick to silence preachers at the first suggestion that a member of the public is offended.

“Freedom of speech means that each one of us needs to be able to critique all religions and ideas without immediately being labelled and silenced as offensive.”

Source:Standard UK

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