Birmingham street preacher wins wrongful arrest case
Dec 10, 2010
The Christian Institute
An autistic Christian street preacher who was handcuffed and arrested for speaking out against homosexuality and many other sins has been awarded , £4,250 in damages following a court case against West Midlands Police.
In a case backed by The Christian Institute, Birmingham County Court ruled on Wednesday that PC Adrian Bill committed assault and battery against Mr Anthony Rollins when he handcuffed him unnecessarily.
The court also ruled that Mr Rollins was wrongfully arrested, unlawfully detained and his human rights to free speech and religious liberty were infringed. The court ordered the police to pay Mr Rollins’ legal costs.
Mr Rollins suffers from Asperger’s syndrome ““ a disorder that causes difficulties in social interaction. He was represented in court by Hugh Tomlinson QC, a respected civil liberty lawyer and joint author of the leading practitioner textbooks on human rights law and on civil actions against the police.
On 24 June 2008 Mr Rollins was preaching from the King James Bible in Birmingham city centre. He expressed his Christian belief that homosexual conduct is morally wrong.
A member of the public, Mr John Edwards, objected to Mr Rollins’ message and shouted “homophobic bigot” before calling 999 and asking for the police. Two officers arrived on the scene and PC Adrian Bill arrested Mr Rollins without further inquiry. Handcuffs were placed on Mr Rollins even though he was calm and compliant.
Mr Rollins was detained at a police station for over three hours. He was never interviewed for his version of events. He was charged with a breach of Section 5 of the Public Order Act ““ a law that has been criticised by Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights for jeopardising free speech. The charges were later dropped before trial.
Mr Rollins made a complaint about the police action to the Independent Police Complaints Commission, but they failed to uphold the complaint. In a civil action supported by The Christian Institute, Mr Rollins sued West Midlands Police for wrongful arrest, unlawful imprisonment, assault and battery, and infringement of his human rights. He won on all counts.
Giving his ruling the judge, Lance Ashworth QC, criticised the arresting officer, PC Bill. The judge said PC Bill had made the arrest “as a matter of routine without any thought being given to Mr. Rollins’ Convention Rights [to free speech and religious liberty].” The judge said PC Bill’s decision to arrest Mr Rollins showed “a lack of thoughtfulness”.
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