UK Street Preacher Wins $21K After 'Wrongful Arrest' by Manchester Police

A street preacher in the U.K. has been awarded £13,000 ($21,664) by the local police after he was arrested for preaching against homosexuality in September 2011.

The Greater Manchester Police Department recently reached a settlement out of court with John Craven, a 57-year-old street preacher who frequented Market Street in Manchester, U.K., twice a week in 2011, where he would preach the Bible to passersby.

In one incident on September 17, 2011, Craven was reportedly preaching on Market Street when two young gay men asked what his thoughts on same-sex marriage were. The preacher reportedly responded, "Whilst God hates sin He loves the sinner." According to Craven's report of the incident, then two young men the reportedly began to taunt him by kissing in front of him and mimicking suggestive acts. They then reported Craven to a local police constable and the preacher was arrested for "public order offenses."

The preacher was then reportedly kept in a holding cell for 15 hours without food or water. Additionally, the preacher was reportedly denied his medication for rheumatoid arthritis after multiple requests. He was eventually given a bowl of cereal and a microwave meal after a friend complained.

The Manchester Police Department paid a total of £50,000 in legal fees and compensation. Craven released a statement this week saying he never intended to cause harm, adding that the police's actions have caused him to feel "nervous and anxious."

"I never intended to cause anyone harassment, alarm or distress. In fact, quite the opposite. I preach the Gospel which means good news and the love of God for all," Craven said in a statement, as reported by BBC.

"The actions of the police have left me feeling nervous and anxious [and] I found the whole episode extremely distressing ... It appears that the actions of the police were calculated to give me and other street preachers the impression that we could not preach the Gospel in public without breaking the law and if we did we would be arrested."

Colin Hart, director of the Christian Institute, the group that funded Craven's case, called the police department's actions "disgraceful."

"The disgraceful way in which Mr. Craven was treated fell well below what the public deserve. In terms of the infringement of religious liberty, it was one of the worst cases we have ever dealt with," Hart said. "Freedom of expression is a very basic human right. The very foundations of our liberty depend upon it. I hope that Greater Manchester Police learn lessons for the future from this case and make every effort to ensure that it never happens again."