After a court refused to admit a “hate speech” case against her, a Christian street preacher in the United Kingdom says she's suing the police for arresting her on the false accusation that she threatened to stab gays and non-believers while she was preaching outside a tube station.
A judge ruled this week that there was no case to answer as the words of Hazel Lewis, a 49-year-old preacher who was arrested under the Public Order Act while preaching outside Finsbury Park tube station in North London last February, had not been threatening or abusive, The Telegraph reported.
Lewis said she is now planning to sue the Metropolitan Police.
“I am delighted that the judge has seen through the lies and has vindicated me,” she was quoted as saying.
During her trial at Highbury Magistrates Court last month, Officer Stuart Day said that a video recording played before the court showed that one of her accusers “very much sounds like he is trying to goad her into commenting on his sexuality. She does not, however, take the bait.”
The accusation against the preacher included that she had made a child cry and used threatening language as she told one of the accusing men, “You are an advocate of Satan and I rebuke you in Jesus’ name,” according to Christian Today, which added that she told listeners that they should be more concerned with knife crime in their neighborhood than her peaceful preaching from the Bible.
Throwing out the case against Lewis, District Judge Julia Newton observed: “The defendant is alleged to have said, ‘you are an advocate of Satan and I rebuke you in Jesus’ name.’ I don’t find those words threatening. These words were certainly disagreed with. I do not find that they were abusive either.”
Newton added: “Further, in relation to distress. It is clear that (a witness) was disturbed and found them to be unpleasant. She said that other people were distressed. She said that she was distressed and found these words were unpleasant. However, that does not amount to harassment, alarm or distress. In addition, there is no evidence as to why the children were crying. Whilst there was a lot of noise, there were a lot of things that could have led the children to cry. I find that there is no case to answer.”
Christian street preachers not only have to contend not with hate-speech laws in the U.K., they also have to protect themselves against acts of violence, the news portal Spiked noted, citing a few recent cases of harassment.
Hatun Tash, an ex-Muslim who is now a critic of Islam and a Christian preacher, was stabbed at Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park in London, it said. “The horrifying incident was captured on camera. Despite there being an estimated 30 witnesses, the perpetrator is still at large.”
Lewis also commented on the dangers street preachers face, adding: “There are dangers out on the streets — I have had urine thrown at me and have been threatened. But Christians are called to preach the Gospel of salvation and hope in any situation, no matter how tough, so I am not afraid. … Despite this experience, I am determined to keep preaching.”