Christian street preacher cleared of hate speech charges

Pastor John Sherwood being told by police officers that he is under arrest.(Photo: YouTube)

Pastor John Sherwood, the Christian street preacher arrested last year in West London for alleged homophobic hate speech, has been cleared in Uxbridge Magistrates' Court.

His colleague Peter Simpson confirmed his acquittal on April 7 to the Conservative Woman website.

Mr Sherwood's defence centred on his freedom "to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority" as set out in Article 10 of the 1998 Human Rights Act, Mr Simpson said.

On April 23 2021 Metropolitan police officers arrested the pastor near Uxbridge tube station.

He had been preaching on Genesis 1:27 and said that the family unit as ordained by God consisted of a father and a mother, not two fathers or two mothers.

Some passers-by complained to the police that he was using homophobic hate speech.

The pastor, then 71, was arrested, held overnight at a police station and in September was charged under Section 5 of the Public Order Act, which outlaws "threatening or abusive words or behaviour likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress".

The nature of Mr Sherwood's arrest, which was captured on video, was condemned as "brutal" by campaign group Christian Concern.

At the trial almost a year later, "the public gallery was full with Christians showing their support for a man of God who is willing to stand up for the truths of Scripture," Mr Simpson reported.

Pastor Sherwood defied the convention in English courts since the Covid outbreak of defendants and witnesses not holding a holy book but instead reading out from a card the affirmation that they will speak the truth.

He insisted on bringing his own Bible and the presiding judge allowed him to swear on that.

"How appropriate to swear on the book which would form the basis of his defence," Mr Simpson said.