COVID-19: Police apologise for storming church during service broadcast

Police have apologised to a church pastor after bursting in on his service broadcast and incorrectly telling him that he was breaking coronavirus regulations.

On 20 November, two officers interrupted Revd Daniel Mateola’s service in Milton Keynes, claiming there were too many people supporting the broadcast and that they must leave.

Guidelines during the second lockdown state that those “essential for the content of the service, and for technical support”, are allowed to be present and social distancing guidelines should be followed.

Prosecution threat

Revd Mateola referred the two officers to the Government guidelines to show he was complying, but more officers were called in and the service was eventually halted.

Police visited him at his house four days later to inform him that he would be prosecuted for breaking COVID-19 regulations.

Thames Valley Police have since apologised and said he would not face prosecution. Chief Superintendent Robert France said there had been a “misunderstanding” by officers.

In a statement, Revd Mateola said that while he had been “treated like a criminal”, he was “relieved” to receive an apology from the police.

Judicial review

The pastor added that he had been “legally seeking to be a blessing and to bring hope to my fellow citizens at a time of great need physically, emotionally and spiritually”.

Revd Mateola is part of a group of more than 100 church leaders seeking a judicial review against the Westminster and Welsh Governments over the closure of churches during lockdown.

The group argues that the closure failed to consider alternatives and “inflicted a terrible human cost”.

Also see:

Church window

UK religious freedom constraints during COVID outbreak ‘among worst in Europe’

Church leaders call for U-turn on church service ban

‘Keep churches open’, CI urges Govt

MPs pile pressure on Government over church closures

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