Tory politician is arrested in hate crime probe after sharing video slamming police for wrongful arrest of Christian preacher and defending ‘only black local councillor’ in Northamptonshire suspended for calling Gay Pride ‘a sin’
- Cllr Stevens said he was questioned about tweets from his personal account
A Conservative councillor was arrested for an alleged hate crime after sharing a video criticising how the police dealt with a Christian street preacher.
Cllr Anthony Stevens, 50, from Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, told The Telegraph he was arrested at his home this month and taken to a police station to be questioned about tweets from his personal account.
One tweet shared by Cllr Stevens in May was a video showing how officers had handled the arrest of Christian preacher Oluwole Ilisanmi in Southgate, London, in 2019.
The police officer took away Mr Ilisanmi’s Bible after the preacher was accused of being Islamophobic and Mr Ilisanmi later received £2,500 for wrongful arrest.
The video also showed footage of an officer appearing to state that a Muslim preacher was permitted to preach on a high street.
Cllrs Stevens and Lawal with coach Ray Revell handing over funds to Wellingborough Boxing Club. The two were part of efforts to keep the club running
Cllr Stevens, a member of Wellingborough Town Council, said he was told by the officers that the original tweet he had shared had been posted by a member of far-right political party Britain First.
Cllr Stevens said he was unaware of this and had no idea who the party Britain First were.
He said he only shared it as ‘disturbing evidence of religious discrimination in law enforcement’.
Police also questioned why he had tweeted his support for fellow Northamptonshire councillor Cllr King Lawal, who has been ‘cancelled’ for talking about his Christian beliefs concerning LGBT issues, according to Cllr Stevens.
Cllr Lawal, 31, the only black councillor in Northamptonshire, was suspended by his local Conservative group last month, after he responded to photographs of Pride parades organised by LGBT groups.
He wrote: ‘When did pride become a thing to celebrate. Because of pride, Satan fell as an archangel. Pride is not a virtue but a sin. Those who have pride should repent of their sins and return to Jesus Christ. He can save you.’
In July, Cllr Stevens retweeted a petition asking for Cllr Lawal’s Conservative positions to be reinstated, with the message: ‘If you value free speech please sign and share.’
Police arresting Oluwole Ilisanmi. An officer snatched Mr Ilisanmi’s Bible after the preacher was accused of being Islamophobic and he later received £2,500 for wrongful arrest
He said officers showed him his tweets concerning Cllr Lawal and asked him why he supported the petition.
Cllr Stevens said he replied that he is a ‘free speech absolutist’ and that he believes people have a right to express their beliefs, even if he does not share their opinions.
Cllr Stevens said he was then asked if he agreed with Cllr Lawal’s initial tweet that Pride is sinful, including LGBT events.
He said he responded by saying that ‘it did not matter whether he agreed with what he said or not, he believed he had the right to say it without having his life torn apart’.
The police were also curious about a tweet, shared by Cllr Stevens on his account of 76 followers, that showed footage of a man burning a copy of the Koran.
Cllr Stevens said his post was in line with his view that he agreed that burning a copy of the Koran was part of a person’s ‘right to free speech in a free society’.
Cllr Stevens said he understood that a local Labour Party member had reported him to the police.
He was informed that he was under arrest for a public order offence under section 19 of the Public Order Act 1986.
The police said he was suspected of handing out written material to provoke racial hatred.
Cllr Stevens has been released on bail.
The Christian Legal Centre is lending its support and he plans to make a complaint to the Independent Office for Police Conduct.
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-12451673/Tory-politician-arrested-hate-crime-probe-sharing-video-slamming-police-wrongful-arrest-Christian-preacher-defending-black-local-councillor-Northamptonshire-suspended-calling-Gay-Pride-sin.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 Tory politician is arrested in hate crime probe after sharing video slamming police for wrongful arrest of Christian preacher and defending ‘only black local councillor’ in Northamptonshire suspended for calling Gay Pride ‘a sin’