A judge has ruled that there is “no case” for a Christian street preacher to face after she was accused of making improper statements as she encouraged a sometimes raucous crowd to follow her faith.
Christian Concern explained in a new report that Hazel Lewis, 49, was preaching a biblical message near Finsbury Park tube station in the United Kingdom early in 2020 when she was confronted with false accusations.
Police, at the time, claimed they arrested her under Section 4 of the Public Order Act for making “homophobic and racist” comments, but there was no evidence of either type of statement that was available for prosecutors to use against her.
In fact, members of the public, at the time of her arrest, can be heard on recordings telling the police that Lewis had done nothing wrong.
The case is believed to be the first time a Christian woman has faced trial for street preaching since Alison Redmond-Bate in 1997. In that case Judge Sedley famously ruled in the preacher’s favor with the determination: “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.”
But Lewis was handcuffed and held at Charing Cross police station until the middle of the night.
It was her recording of her own preaching that supported the judge’s determination.
It had been alleged that Miss Lewis had made a child cry and had been threatening when she said in response to one man’s provocation: “you are an advocate of Satan and I rebuke you in Jesus’ name.”
The judge said there wasn’t evidence of why children were crying, and her rebuke to “an advocate of Satan” was not a threat.
“These words were certainly disagreed with. I do not find that they were abusive either,” the judge said.
Lewis was supported by the Christian Legal Center at her Highbury Corner Magistrates Court trial.
Police testified they had listened to her sermon, and “at no point do you hear her make any homophobic or racist remarks against anyone.”
Christian Concern said Lewis now intends to launch legal action against the police.
Lewis said it appeared that police were determined to prosecute her “no matter what.”
“All I was doing was preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ, and I was arrested for it. There are dangers out on the streets – I have had urine thrown at me and have been threatened, but Christians are called to preach the gospel of salvation and hope in any situation, no matter how tough, so I am not afraid.”
Andrea Williams, chief of the Christian Legal Center, said: “The audio footage reveals a passionate and courageous Christian woman declaring the hope of the gospel. … The case raises questions as to why, 25 years on from Alison Redmond-Bate, street preachers are still being arrested and prosecuted by police for lawfully exercising their Christian freedoms.”
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