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Christian Concern
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Christian Concern
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Christian street preacher wins case after being arrested for alleged hate crimes

by Heather Preston

A Christian street preacher has won her legal case after being accused of hate crimes by members of the public.

Hazel Lewis, 49, was arrested while preaching outside Finsbury Park tube station last year, for allegedly making homophobic and racist comments.

She was arrested on 12 February 2020 under Section 4 of the Public Order Act and held in custody at Charing Cross Police Station.

According to Christian Concern, some members of the public were confused during her arrest and asked police 'What law has she broken?'

Lewis, who has been open air preaching for 12 years provided audio evidence of her preach when she was taken into custody, which subsequently revealed the allegations made against her were false and no crimes had been committed.

Christian Concern's head of public policy, Tim Dieppe questions the motivations of police when it comes to arresting Christian street preachers.

He told Premier Lewis should never have been arrested: "In spite of evidence from the recording that she said nothing hateful, they still proceeded to prosecute her. And the real question is, why did this happen?

"Police should never have arrested her number one and then point two, they shouldn't have charged her because they knew from the evidence recording that there was nothing wrong. There was no crime committed."

It had been alleged that Lewis had made a child cry and had been threatening when she said in response to one man's provocation: "you are an advocate of Satan and I rebuke you in Jesus' name."

She also said that her detractors should be more concerned about knife crime in the area than her peaceful biblical message.

Three members of the public interpreted this as her calling for sinners to be stabbed and reported it to police.

Supported by the Christian Legal Centre, Lewis faced trial at Highbury Corner Magistrates Court on 28 July 2021.

A witness statement from a police officer who had reviewed Lewis' recording stated that a member of the public appeared to have been "goading" her to comment on homosexuality but she "refused to take the bait". He added that "at no point do you hear her make any homophobic or racist remarks against anyone."

The officer also stated that: "She at no point during the recording is calling for the stabbing or murder of any group based on their lack of religious beliefs."

District Judge Julia Newton ruled that there was "no case to answer" stating that although Lewis' words may be disagreed with, they were not abusive or threatening.

"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," she added.

Dieppe says police seem quick to arrest street preachers and should be called to answer for this: "Countless times police have arrested street preachers and charged them and then it's been proven in court there was no offense. When that happens time and time again you have to wonder why are the police arresting these street preachers?

"The police need to change their policy and stop arresting these preachers, and instead, protect them and stop people from harassing them."

According to Christian Concern, Lewis is hoping to take legal action against the Metropolitan Police Department in relation to her arrest.

Premier has contacted the Metropolitan Police Department for comment.

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