U.K. Street Preacher Accused of Violating COVID-19 Restrictions Is Cleared of all Charges
A Christian street pastor who was fined in the United Kingdom in 2020 while preaching outside has been cleared of all charges by the London Magistrates Court.
According to CBN News, Joshua Sutcliffe, 31, was fined in April 2020 for passing out pamphlets in Camden, North London, on April 10, 2020. Officers told him he was in violation of the COVID-19 lockdown orders.
He was fined $80 but challenged the fee earlier this month in court.
A judge found him "not guilty on all charges."
"We find that the defendant was outside and that he had a reasonable excuse as he was traveling to his place of work, as a worship leader. Their gathering was limited in duration, and they were entitled to gather for street evangelizing," the court judgment stated.
Sutcliffe told reporters that the officers had mistreated him during the incident.
"At one point, I was surrounded by four police officers, which was very intimidating. They treated me like a second-class citizen. I am a Christian minister of the Gospel, which not so long ago was a treasured and respected vocation in the UK.
"During times of need, people need the hope of the Gospel of The Lord Jesus Christ. That is what I do on a regular basis, I go to the streets and proclaim the hope and truth of the resurrection of Christ. I was doing this on Good Friday, one of the most important days in the Christian calendar to do this.
"I am very glad the magistrates threw the case out, and that justice prevailed," he added.
Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, also added that she was happy with the court's decision.
"We are pleased that the court has acquitted Joshua, but are concerned that it even made it this far," she said. "We are seeing a lot of inconsistencies from police and the judiciary in these cases. Christians have been easy targets for police during the pandemic while other groups gathering in significant numbers have been favored by the police."
Photo courtesy: Jack Rodrigo Santos/Unsplash
Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.