Double victory for Christian street preachers arrested under ‘hate law’ by Scottish police

From Christian Concern:

Police in Scotland have dropped all charges against Christian Legal Centre clients, Tony Miano and Josh Williamson, after they were arrested under ‘hate’ legislation for preaching the Gospel on the streets of Dundee and Perth.

Tony Miano (50), a former Los Angeles Deputy Sheriff, was arrested in January for using ‘homophobic language’ during a one-week street-preaching mission following an official complaint from a member of the public. Tony protested his innocence and said they could see his preaching, which was on video, as evidence that he had done nothing wrong and that his message was one of hope to be found in Jesus Christ. The officers refused to look at the footage and took the evangelist to the police station where he was detained for 24 hours.

Josh Williamson, an Australian evangelist who is a pastor at the Craigie Reformed Baptist Church in Perth was arrested twice in three days in the city last September for an alleged ‘breach of the peace’.  On both occasions he was arrested after police said they had received complaints from passers-by that his Bible message had caused offence.  After the second arrest, he was held in custody for six hours.

The Christian Legal Centre (CLC) supported and underwrote Tony and Josh’s legal representation, and this week, the Scottish prosecutors informed them that all charges against them had been dropped.

After receiving the news, Tony thanked the CEO of the Christian Legal Centre, Andrea Williams, and his lawyer, John Kydd, for their continued support over many months.

Josh, who was represented by lawyer Michael Phillips, said: “Without the Christian Legal Centre our freedoms would be eroded a lot sooner.”

Andrea Williams said: “These cases show yet again how confused the situation has become. A single passer-by can allege ‘hurt’ ‘offence’ and an innocent preacher gets arrested, taken to a cell and held for many hours. This has a deeply chilling impact on all of us; on our fundamental freedom to speak out about what we believe in for fear of ‘causing offence’ and being punished by the state for doing so.

“Clearly there is a pressing need for the Association of Chief Police Officers to work with those of us representing street preachers to come up with guidelines on ‘best practice’ for police services across the country to ensure that officers on the beat do not take away the fundamental freedom of Christians to do open air evangelism on the streets of the United Kingdom.”

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