Victory as magistrates rule street preachers were free to evangelise in lockdown

Jul 24, 2021 by

from Christian Concern:

London magistrates have thrown out a case against a Christian preacher, who was fined and prosecuted by the Metropolitan police for evangelising on Good Friday, 2020.

Joshua Sutcliffe, 31, along with one socially distanced friend, was preaching and handing out leaflets in Camden, North London, on 10 April 2020 when the two of them were stopped by the police.

‘I could not have helped the homeless if I were online’

Detained and surrounded by four police officers, Joshua was told that he was outdoors without a reasonable excuse and acting contrary to government lockdown Covid regulations. Despite Joshua informing the officers that he was a pastor and worship leader and was therefore allowed to be outdoors providing charitable services, he was cautioned and received a fixed penalty notice of £60.

Supported by the Christian Legal Centre, Joshua contested the fine at the City of London Magistrates Court on 6 July 2021. Joshua told the court that on his way home from preaching, he had handed his shoes to a homeless man, which he could not have done if he had just been preaching online.

Handing down judgment, the magistrate said: “We find the defendant not guilty on all charges.  We find that the defendant was outside and that he had a reasonable excuse as he was travelling to his place of work, as a worship leader.

“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. Their gathering was limited in duration, and they were entitled to gather for street evangelising.”

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