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Government defends right of street preachers following London arrest

The government is defending the right of street preachers after a man was arrested in London last month and had his Bible confiscated.

Responding to a question from MP Theresa Villiers, Home Office Minister Nick Hurd said people are free to follow their religious beliefs provided they do so within the law.

It's currently legal to preach on the streets in the UK.

  
In a written question, Theresa Villiers asked: "With reference to the arrest and release of Oluwole Ilesanmi in Enfield, what steps he is taking to ensure that church groups can preach on the street."

In the response, Nick Hurd said: "The Government does not prevent individuals from following their religious beliefs or cultural traditions provided they do so within the law.

"The diversity of modern Britain is one of our strengths and many British people of different faiths follow religious codes and practices.

"The right to freedom of expression is a vital part of a democratic society. It is a long-standing tradition in this country that people are free to share their views with others.

"Decisions on arrests are an operational matter for the police working within the provisions of the legal framework set by Parliament."

 

The issue was raised after a video went viral online of Oluwole Ilesanmi being arrested in Enfield. While it's unclear what he said while preaching, he was accused of racism and breaching the peace.

He was driven out of the area and the "de-arrested".

He's been supported by campaign group Christian Concern which has accused the police of leaving him in an unfamiliar area without money to return home.

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