A street preacher in Scotland has won substantial damages from the police after he was wrongfully arrested over a ‘hate-crime’ incident.
Angus Cameron, who was Pastor of Cumnock Baptist Church, received £5,500 for his unlawful detention by Police Scotland, as well as £9,400 in legal costs.
Mr Cameron has donated all of his compensation to The Christian Institute, which supported him throughout his ordeal.
The Institute’s Deputy Director for Public Affairs Simon Calvert explained that Mr Cameron had been preaching in Glasgow city centre when he was approached by a police officer who said she had been told ‘homophobic language’ had been used, which Angus strenuously denied.
“The PC announced that he was under arrest for ‘breach of the peace with homophobic aggravation’. He was handcuffed – despite being entirely peaceful and compliant.
“Angus was searched in the roadway, in full view of passing traffic and pedestrians, before being put in the back of a police van for over an hour. He was finally released to be told the matter would be dealt with ‘in due course’.
“His preaching was not targeting individuals; he did not use offensive language; he was not aggressive; he did not try to cause offence; he simply quoted the Bible. There was no criminality at all.”
Non-crime hate incident
Two days later, Mr Cameron was telephoned by the arresting officer and told he would not be prosecuted for ‘breach of the peace’ after all.
However, a record of the unsubstantiated complaint against him, known as a ‘non-crime hate incident report’, would be logged in police records against his name.
His lawyers obtained internal Police Scotland papers, confirming that although Police Scotland had admitted no criminal act had been committed, there was indeed a ‘shadow’ over the preacher’s good name in its records.
Mr Calvert said: “The police papers revealed clear errors in the handling and recording of this incident.
“Despite the police knowing full well that the complaint against him did not amount to a criminal offence, this respected community leader was informed his good name was to be associated with ‘hatred’ and potential criminality in police records.
“We were pleased to be able to help Angus bring a legal action and we believe it was because of the strength of his legal claim that the police were forced to reach an out-of-court legal settlement and pay damages and legal costs.
“In addition, we were able to get all reference to this unsubstantiated ‘non-crime’ deleted from Police Scotland’s records.”
He added: “Police Scotland is reviewing its policy and looking at the College of Policing’s guidance on non-crime hate incidents.
“From our experience in this and many other similar cases, we believe we can contribute constructively to this review. We can act as a bridge between the police and street preachers in this vexed area.
“In light of Angus’s case and Police Scotland’s announcement of a review, we will be contacting them, and offering any constructive help and assistance that we can provide.”