Christian street preacher receives £4,000 payout from police for wrongful arrest

Dale McAlpine(Photo: The Christian Institute)

A Christian street preacher is to receive £4,000 from Cumbria Police after being arrested and detained in a cell for almost six hours. 

Dale McAlpine, from Workington, was arrested by three police officers as he preached in Kendal town centre in July 2018. 

The Christian Institute, which defended Mr McAlpine in his case, said that the police failed to tell him the charges at the time of his arrest and "left him in limbo" for six months before informing him that he would not be prosecuted due to lack of evidence. 

Cumbria Police have now admitted that they acted unlawfully and have settled his claim out of court. 

Mr McAlpine, a street preacher for over 15 years, is donating the full amount of the settlement to the Christian Institute's Legal Defence Fund to support the organisation in helping more Christians "fight for religious liberty".

"I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and his message of salvation and I want everyone to hear about it," he said.

"I took this legal action to make the police realise you can't arrest people just for preaching the Gospel. This is a free country and I'm grateful for our freedoms.

"I'm also grateful to The Christian Institute for helping me take a stand. I couldn't have done it without them." 

He continued: "I'm really pleased the police have admitted they shouldn't have arrested me. I hope it encourages other Christians involved in open air preaching.

"As long as you are sensible, you have nothing to fear from the police."

Simon Calvert, Deputy Director for Public Affairs at the Christian Institute, welcomed the news, saying that it had been a "gross overreaction" on the part of the police to hold Mr McAlpine in a cell for six hours.

He said: "We are glad Cumbria Police have done the right thing and that Dale has been vindicated. He was simply preaching the basics of the Christian gospel. He did nothing wrong and should never have been arrested in the first place.

"This is a positive outcome, not just for Dale, but for Christians across the country. It's a reminder that there is no law against preaching the gospel." 

It is not the first time that Mr McAlpine has received a payout from Cumbria Police. He was awarded £7,000 plus costs after being arrested in 2010 while preaching in Workington town centre in and being detained for nearly eight hours.

Mr Calvert called for changes within Cumbria Police to ensure that no one is arrested in future for preaching the Gospel. 

"Our country has a rich heritage of free speech, for preachers and for everybody else," he said.

"This needs cherishing and protecting and that requires the police to actively train their officers to stand up for free speech, including speech they don't like, or that is unfashionable."