Christian Street Preacher Harassment Case Dropped
The Crown Prosecution Service has dropped all charges against a street preacher who was arrested and charged for comments he made about Islam and ISIS.
Michael Jones, 66, of Hornsea, was arrested in December 2015 and charged with two allegations of religious harassment, under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998.
Mr Jones was accused of shouting very negative comments about Islam in Toll Gavel, Beverley on 18th November.
But a recording of Mr Jones's preaching reveals that all of these phrases, reported by a passerby and a woman on her lunch break, were fabricated. Mr Jones explained this fact when he was in police custody.
However, despite clear audio recorded evidence of his innocence of any crime, the preacher - who is well-known for speaking on the high street for the past four years - was subjected to intimidating tactics by the police.
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Mr Jones also faced a second allegation concerning his preaching on 27th November.
Mr Jones was charged with this second offence because a man reported him as saying"Jesus is the only God" and "Allah is the devil".
The recording shows that, after speaking about ISIS, the preacher spoke about Islam and the Qur'an more broadly.
He then contrasted Islam with Christianity: "This book [the Bible] is a book of love, a book of forgiveness, a book of mercy. A book of truth. Jesus says, 'I am the truth. Follow me.' If you don't follow Jesus, you're not walking in the truth."
Police arrived unannounced at the Jones's front door at 8.15am on 2nd December, and, without providing any identification, a policewoman barged into the family home.
Mr Jones was then taken to the police station and held for eight hours. He was interrogated and, despite his complete denial that he made any derogatory comments about Muslims, the police proceeded with the case against him.
Mr Jones was charged and bailed to attend court and given strict bail conditions not to enter Beverley town centre.
Mr Jones has been supported in his case by the Christian Legal Centre. Andrea Williams, barrister and CEO, says that it appears that the police were using this incident to force Mr Jones off the streets, when he had simply given his opinion on the contrasting teachings and outcomes of Christianity and Islam.
Andrea Williams said: "Michael Jones was falsely accused. None of the phrases he was supposed to have said on 18 November were actually said by him. What he did preach, however, were his sincerely held Christian beliefs.
"We must preserve the right to compare and evaluate religions.
"In a free country, he was exercising his right to free expression. He said nothing that warranted the treatment he subsequently received. Yet the police readily believed the allegations against Michael and overreacted, invading his home and holding him in a cell for eight hours.
"Thankfully, Michael made a recording of all of his preaching, without which he would quite likely have been convicted and would now have a criminal record. At the Christian Legal Centre, we strongly advise all Christian street preachers to take recording devices with them when they preach."
At a preliminary hearing at Beverley Magistrates' Court on 30th December 2015, Mr Jones pleaded not guilty to the harassment charges.
The CPS has since decided to drop the case. The CPS letter stated: "The decision to discontinue these charges has been taken because there is not enough evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction."
Andrea Williams concluded: "The CPS is absolutely right to drop the case, but it is shocking that Michael was taken into custody and charged at all. The actions of the police demonstrate a fear and over-sensitivity when it comes to critiquing Islam.
"We are currently advising Michael on a possible case against the police for unlawful arrest."