Dale won £7,000 plus costs from Cumbria Police in settlement for a claim of wrongful arrest, unlawful imprisonment and breach of his human rights. The police accepted they acted unlawfully.
Mr McAlpine was preaching from the Bible in Workington town centre on 20 April 2010. When he finished he was approached by a Police Community Support Officer, who identified himself as an ‘LGBT Liaison Officer’.
Even though Dale had never mentioned homosexuality, the PCSO warned him that he could be arrested if he made homophobic remarks. Dale replied that he was not homophobic, but he sometimes preaches that homosexual conduct is a sin because that is what the Bible says.
Uniformed police officers were called to the scene and wrongly informed Mr McAlpine that “it is against the law” to describe homosexual conduct as a sin. One of the constables arrested Mr McAlpine for a “racially aggravated Section 5 Public Order offence”.
His arrest was recorded on a video camera.
Mr McAlpine was taken to the police station and held in a cell pending interview. In total he was detained for 7 hours 46 minutes. He was charged with using “threatening, abusive or insulting” words “to cause harassment, alarm or distress” contrary to Section 5 of the Public Order Act. The charges were later dropped.
He was released on bail on the condition that he must not preach in public pending the court case. Mr McAlpine was due to preach in his church the following Sunday but had to cancel that because of the bail condition.
Homosexual campaigners criticised the police action. In May Peter Tatchell told newspapers that the arrest was heavy-handed and an attack on free speech. He offered to appear as a defence witness if Mr McAlpine was prosecuted. Keith Porteous Wood, a homosexual and Executive Director of the National Secular Society, offered to appear as a witness in support of Mr McAlpine’s civil action against the police.
Mr McAlpine said: “I forgive the police for how they treated me and I hope that this doesn’t happen to anyone else.”
Despite my experience I still respect the police. I will pray for them because they have a difficult and sometimes dangerous job. Dale McAlpine