A christian preacher was arrested by police in Basildon town centre on suspicion of making homophobic remarks while giving a sermon.

Echo reports Evangelist Rob Hughes was arrested on suspicion of committing a public order offence on Thursday, but was later released without charge.

His preaching has stirred controversy among shoppers and onlookers in the town over the past few weeks, with police being called on numerous occasions to deal with shoppers also harassing him.

Officers finally arrested the 37-year-old after one woman made a complaint that he had made homophobic remarks during one of his sermons.

Following his release, town centre officials and police say they are now “monitoring” the situation.

Mr Hughes told Basildon Council that he was allowed to preach on the street under old bylaws.

However, Hans Wustefield, of the Basildon Town Centre Management, said he believed all religious groups should first apply for a permit.

He said: “Anyone who wants to do something in the town centre –whether it is preaching or holding an event – must apply for a permit with either us or the council.”

A spokesman for Basildon Council also said: “We work with a number of religious groups and church organisations who pre book pitches to hold events in the town. In this instance, that was not the case and no pitch had been booked.”

“We are continuing to look into the matter,” he added.

Insp Mark Rayner, of Basildon police, said officers would also be keeping a close eye on whether Mr Hughes returns to the town.

In the video of one of Mr Hughes’s sermons, he can be heard talking passionately about the “sin of the world,” although no explicit mention of homosexuality is made.

In July, another Christian street preacher was arrested in south-west London and questioned about his beliefs after saying that “fornication” and homosexuality are a sin.

“My friends, the reality is, we are all going to stand before God to give account for our lives”, he said.

“And whether our sin is sexual in nature or not, if we have violated his law in any way – whether it is homosexuality, whether it is refusing to abstain from evil in the heterosexual community and we are lusting after people we are indulging in fornication, but even beyond that if we have so much as told one lie – God sees us as a violator of his law, God does not see us as good.”