UK’s ‘most arrested’ preacher who thinks gays will ‘burn in hell’ claims he was falsely imprisoned for ‘being homophobic’
Street preacher Michael Overd has filed a lawsuit against the police, claiming that he was falsely imprisoned and assaulted by an officer for “being homophobic“.
Overd, alongside preachers Mike Stockwell, Don Karns and AJ Clarke, brought the case against Avon and Somerset police in relation to an incident in July 2016.
All four were arrested on suspicion of a religiously aggravated public order offence while preaching outside Broadmead Shopping Centre in Bristol. Overd and Stockwell were convicted and fined for the offence in February, 2017, but were later cleared on appeal.
They are now accusing Avon and Somerset police of assault, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, misfeasance in a public office and violating their human rights.
According to the BBC, body cam footage recorded by the street preacher showed Overd telling shoppers that they were “God haters” and “depraved”. He also criticised Islam, and said that then-prime minister David Cameron was “no more Christian than my dogs” because of his support of same-sex marriage.
The footage also shows Michael Overd falling to the ground during his arrest and claiming PC Steve Phillipou, who made the arrest, was hurting him.
But Phillipou told Bristol County Court that onlookers complained that the street preacher was “being homophobic” and “challenging Muslims”, and that when he arrived at the scene he found an “angry mob” which he feared would “turn nasty”.
A second officer, Elliott Price, told the court that others described Overd making comments of a “racial nature”.
Phillipou said he warned that if Overd did not comply with a dispersal notice, he would arrest him. The street preacher ignored him, and so he made the arrest.
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He said that he used “minimal force” to “firmly” take Overd by the arm, and denies that he caused him to fall to the ground.
Ian Daniels, representing Overd, insisted that his client should not have been arrested, and added: “If you say, ‘I don’t like Islam and I think all Muslims should be killed’ then it’s a very different thing.”
Mark Ley-Morgan, for Avon and Somerset Police, insisted that police had allowed Overd to preach across Somerset on “many, many occasions”, but the preacher said: “When officers come, they come to close us down.”
Overd insisted that a “culture of all major institutions” had started “criminalising the Bible”, and claimed the police had “compromised” their neutrality by supporting LGBT+ Pride.
The court heard about another incident in January, 2017, when Overd was told to move on after he told a gay couple that they would “go to hell and burn”. Ley-Morgan said that police attempted to “gain cooperation when they have complaints and take action when they absolutely have to”.
The case led by Michael Overd, who describes himself as “the most arrested Christian preacher in the land”, began on 7 December and is expected to last 10 days. The street preacher is being supported in his case by Christian Concern.
Related topics: Christian Concern