A street preacher who was detained in police custody for more than 19 hours has been exonerated, after the police settled a claim for wrongful arrest.
According to the Christian Institute (CI), which supported John Craven in his battle, the preacher will receive £13,000 in compensation, plus legal costs, from the Greater Manchester police force, who settled a claim for wrongful arrest, false imprisonment and breach of human rights.
The incident happened when Mr Craven, who was preaching on John 3:16, ‘For God so loved the world’, was interrupted by two homosexual teenagers who asked him what he thought of gays.
He replied that what he thinks didn’t matter — what mattered was what God thought. After he quoted from the Bible, the youths started kissing in front of him and taunting him with crude and suggestive gestures.
As a result, the police arrested Mr Craven and placed him in custody, denying him food, water and access to medication for his rheumatoid arthritis, for almost 15 hours.
In a statement from the CI, director Colin Hart said, ‘Mr Craven has been street preaching and faithfully sharing God’s Word for seven years. It is one of the worst cases we have seen and Manchester police’s behaviour was unlawful and totally out of line.
‘People can disagree with the Bible and say they find it offensive, but in 1999 a High Court Judge, Lord Justice Sedley, said that, “Freedom only to speak inoffensively is not worth having”.
‘When people ask questions, Christians should be able to answer by freely quoting from the Bible. No one should be placed in custody for 19 hours simply for expressing their beliefs’.
According to Mr Hart, the police settled a few days before the case was due to go to court, and the total cost for Greater Manchester Police, including both parties’ legal bills, will be more than £50,000.