David McConnell won £3,250 in damages, plus legal costs, from West Yorkshire Police after he was wrongfully arrested and falsely imprisoned for preaching the Gospel.
He had been preaching in Huddersfield town centre in December 2019 when he was arrested for “a hate related public order offence” and kept in police custody for about six hours before being released without charge.
While Mr McConnell was preaching, some passers-by stopped to heckle him, asking him questions about sexuality and abortion – even though he had not been preaching on either subject.
But he was subsequently arrested and taken to Huddersfield police station without being told the offence he had allegedly committed, other than the suggestion it was for “a hate related public order offence” and “for preaching on gay rights and abortion”.
During his time in custody, one police sergeant listened to Mr McConnell’s recording of his preaching and concluded that no offence had been committed, so the preacher was released without charge.
Mr McConnell took legal action with the support of The Christian Institute, and in May 2021 West Yorkshire Police admitted liability in court papers.
I don’t blame the police for responding to the call. But they should have asked me for my side of the story instead of just arresting me.
I’m thankful that the police have admitted what they did was unlawful. It was a very distressing experience for me. But I’m glad I can put it behind me and I’m able to continue to share the good news of Jesus Christ. David McConnell