A preacher who was arrested and fined for giving an outdoor sermon on Easter Sunday last year has lost his legal bid to overturn the £400 penalty.
The judge ruled last week that police were right to arrest Andrew Sathiyavan in Sutton, South London on Easter, allegedly telling the 46-year-old that preaching Jesus was not essential.
Officers initially approached Sathiyavan because his amplification was said to be causing a disturbance.
Footage of the arrest shows Sathiyavan asking the officers if he was breaking the law by preaching the gospel.
Police told Sathiyavan: “We are not saying you are breaking the law, but it is causing anti-social behaviour.”
A third officer then stepped forward and accused Sathiyavan of “breaching COVID laws” because he was there “without a purpose.”
“You are not exercising,” the officer said, “you are not going to work, so you can get a fine.”
The officer continued: “Under COVID laws you are allowed to be outside if you are going to the shops, exercising or going to work. You are doing neither. You are preaching and that is unacceptable.”
Sathiyavan responded: “So, you are arresting me for preaching?”
“No,” the officer replied. “No one is going to arrest you.”
The officers then demanded Sathiyavan’s name and address in order to issue him a fine for breaching COVID restrictions.
When Sathiyavan refused to hand over his personal information, saying he had not broken any laws, the officers arrested him.
Sathiyavan recently spoke to Christian Concern about the ruling, saying the court told him his job is not essential.
“I’ve been working for five years in this area, with drug addicts, prostitutes, and so many people are broken and desperate, homeless people. If this is not essential, what is essential?”