A street preacher arrested for describing homosexuality as a sin has had the charge against him dropped.

Dale McAlpine, 42, of Yeowartville, Workington, was charged last month with a public order offence after he told a passerby that homosexuality was a “sin”.

This week, West Cumbria police dropped the case and said they were committed to upholding “freedom of expression”.

Chief Superintendent Steve Johnson told the Times & Star: “The Crown Prosecution Service has carefully assessed the evidence in the case and has decided to discontinue the prosecution of Mr McAlpine.

“We would like to reassure the public that we respect, and are committed to upholding, the fundamental right to freedom of expression.

“We are just as committed to maintaining the peace and preventing people feeling alarmed or distressed by the actions of others in public places.”

Mr McAlpine, who regularly delivers sermons from a stepladder in Workington, described the charge of using threatening words or behaviour to cause harassment, alarm or distress as “ridiculous”.

He was charged after a local police community support officer alerted the police to his comment that homosexuality was a “sin” that goes against God.

In March, gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell defended another street preacher who had been fined for criticising homosexuality.

Shawn Holes, 47, from New York state, was fined £1,000 for breaching the Public Order Act after telling shoppers in Glasgow that gays were going to hell.

Mr Tatchell described the fine as “totally disproportionate” and said he would have gone to court to defend Holes’ right to freedom of expression, had he known about the case.

“I urge the police and prosecuting authorities to concentrate on tackling serious homophobic hate crimes, instead of wasting public money on petty, distasteful homophobic ranters,” he said.