Banbury Magistrates Court House
Banbury Magistrates Court House (Courtesy of Banbury Guardian)

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A former teacher who was ordered by a female police constable to stop preaching outside Banbury Magistrates Court House in the U.K. has had the charges of assault and breach of the peace against him dismissed by the Oxford Magistrates Court.

The officer approached Bill Edwards, 73, when he was preaching outside the courthouse and asked him to move on, as some people inside the building found his preaching “offensive.” He refused, however, and the officer told him he would be arrested. Edwards followed her into the police station a short distance away, where he was grabbed by six officers, taken to the ground and arrested.

On Tuesday the district judge at the Oxford Magistrates Court told Edwards he had no case to answer and expressed doubt that the officer had acted in the execution of her duty.

An application for a restraint order to prevent Edwards from preaching outside Banbury Court House was refused, and he was given an order for costs to cover his travel expenses. 

Edwards was supported throughout the case by the Christian Legal Centre (CLC) and was represented in court by allied solicitor to the CLC Michael Phillips.

Andrea Williams of the CLC says, “It is alarming that an elderly individual could be treated by authorities in this way simply for preaching in public. 

“This is one of many instances where we have seen the police use heavy-handed tactics against lawful street preaching. It raises serious questions about their understanding of the way in which the law should be interpreted and applied in this area and is indicative of the growing trend to remove Christian preachers off the streets.”

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