News by emailDonate

Suggestions

Top Stories

Most Read

Popular Videos

Street preachers successfully appeal convictions
Christian Legal Centre
UK News

Street preachers successfully appeal convictions

Michael Overd, 53, and 51 year old Michael Stockwell were acquitted at Bristol Crown Court on Thursday after previously being found guilty of religiously-motivated public order offences.

Mr Overd said: "We hope and pray that today's ruling will be an encouragement to Christians across the nation to continue preaching the good news."

During the appeal at Bristol Crown Court, lawyers representing Mr Overd and Mr Stockwell argued that there is no right not to be exposed to contrary ideas, and shoppers were free to continue walking past.

Simon Holliday/Facebook

simonholliday.com

Mr Stockwell said: "When we were convicted of public order offences in February, I was shocked that God's message of love is now considered by some to be hateful and dangerous.

"Freedom of speech is under increasing assault in this nation. People should be free to express their beliefs in public, without risk of harm, violence or other repercussions. That's why today's result is such a great victory."

The men were detained - along with two other people who faced no further action - at Broadmead Shopping Centre on 6th July 2016 after police decided Mr Overd was "causing a disturbance".

The two men were convicted in February 2016 of using "threatening or abusive words or behaviour or disorderly behaviour within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress, thereby, and the offence was religiously aggravated". They were ordered to pay £2016.

Bristol Magistrates Court heard how they criticised Islam, Catholicism, Jehovah Witness and Mormonism and quoted John 14:6 which says "I am the way, the truth and the life".

A public prosecutor argued the men's behaviour constituted a clear threat to violence and suggested quoting parts of the King James Bible in the context of modern British society "must be considered to be abusive and is a criminal matter".

Andrea Williams from Christian Legal Centre which has been supporting Mr Overd and Mr Stockwell, said: "At a time where Christians are becoming increasingly fearful about expressing their beliefs in the public space, this is a welcome and needed result.

"We are grateful that the judge made the right decision today."

The Christian Legal Centre claimed the two men debated the difference between Christianity and Islam with a crowd who became aggressive, "sometimes swearing and hurling abuse".

Picture: Michael Stockwell (left) and Michael Overd (centre)

Continue the conversation on our Facebook page

A Monthly Gift Of £5 Makes A World Of Difference

In a world of fake news there’s never been a greater need for quality Christian journalism. Premier’s mission is to provide the Church with the most up to date and relevant news, told from a Christian perspective. But we can’t do it without you.

Unlike many websites we haven't put up a paywall — we want to keep our journalism free at the point of need and as open as we can. Premier’s news output takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce. No one in the UK is sharing news like we are across radio, magazines and online so please help us to continue that today.

For a monthly gift of £5 or more we’d also be able to send you a free copy of the brand new Premier Bible, a wonderful Anglicised version of the NLT packed with exclusive bonus content, reading plan and resources to help you get the most out of scripture.

Your monthly support will make a world of difference. Thank you.

Set up a monthly gift

Related Articles

Sign up to our newsletter to stay informed with news from a Christian perspective.

Connect

Donate

Donate