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Four street preachers take police to court over 2016 arrests

Four Bristol-based street preachers have taken the Avon and Bristol police to court. Following their arrest in July 2016, Mike Overd, Don Karns, Mike Stockwell and AJ Clarke are bringing claims against the police for assault, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, misfeasance in a Public Office, and infringement of their Human Rights.

The case is primarily based on video footage from a police bodycam that shows Mike Overd being arrested.

All four men were detained in custody for over six hours following the incident and were questioned at a later date before being charged. They were eventually acquitted of all charges.

The Christian Legal Centre is representing the street preachers' case. 

Rob Smith, from Christian Concern, told Premier he believes that if they win the case it will show "the real limits of the Public Order Act". 

Mr Smith continued saying that the principal reason for the hearing is to "make it safe for Street Preachers to go out and be able to preach" and for "the police to understand the limits of their powers in these circumstances and not to go beyond them". 

Mr Overd will also challenge the police for an alleged eight-year "sustained campaign of harassment" against him.
Ahead of the hearing, Mr Over said: "We have faced no alternative but to bring this case as the police must be held to account for their actions for what they did in July 2016 and moreover for their actions over the past eight years."

He added: "I believe I should be free to express views of public interest, including on culture or morality. I do not attack people; however, I accept that I do criticise ideologies, other religions and certain sexual practises. Ultimately free speech is worthless without the freedom to offend." 

The court hearing began on 7th December and is expected to last for at least two weeks. 

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