Met Police payout after Southgate preacher’s wrongful arrest

A Christian street preacher who had his Bible confiscated as he was handcuffed by police has been awarded £2,500 for wrongful arrest.

Footage of the arrest of Oluwole Ilesanmi pleading with police to not “take my Bible away”, has been viewed online almost three million times.

He was detained outside Southgate Tube station in February after a 999 call claimed he had been Islamophobic.

The Met said it had a right to investigate a potential hate crime.

Pastor arrest
In a video posted online, the pastor is seen asking police not to take away his Bible. Image copyright: Christian Concern

In a video posted online, Mr Ilesanmi, 64, is seen telling police: “Jesus is on the way.”

An officer, who arrested him for breach of the peace, can be heard replying: “I appreciate that but nobody wants to listen to that. They want you to go away.”

When Mr Ilesanmi tries to keep hold of his Bible, an officer says: “You should’ve thought about that before being racist.”

Mr Ilesanmi admits describing Islam as an “aberration” but said he was expressing his point of view as a Christian rather than denigrating Muslims.

On Tuesday, Mr Ilesanmi will hand a petition to the Home Office, signed by 38,000 people, asking for greater protection for street preachers.

Arrest ‘traumatic’

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

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. But I’m was determined to get back to Southgate and start preaching the gospel again.”

Supt Neil Billany, of the force, said: “The Met respects and upholds the rights of all individuals to practice 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.

“That is the role of the police, even if a decision is subsequently made that their actions are not criminal. In this case, it was deemed appropriate to remove the man from the area.”

Main image credit: Christian Concern

First published 28.07.19:

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