The street preacher charged with public-order offences for saying homosexuality is a sin has had his case dropped after his plight was highlighted by The Mail on Sunday.
Dale Mcalpine was arrested by police who claimed his comments to passers-by had caused offence.
But the Crown Prosecution Service has decided not to pursue the charges as there is insufficient evidence.
Mr Macalpine, 42, said: ‘This is a victory for freedom of speech. I hope we are not going down the road towards a police state and the thought police.
I can’t wait to get out on to the streets again and preach the word of God.”
He is now taking legal advice over suing the police for wrongful arrest.
Mr Mcalpine, who earns about £40,000 a year in the energy industry, had been handing out leaflets and talking to passers-by about his Christian beliefs in the centre of Workington, Cumbria, last month.
In conversation with one woman, he listed a number of sins from the Bible, including adultery, drunkenness and homosexuality.
He was then approached by Police Community Support Officer Sam Adams, who said he was gay and a liaison officer with the local homosexual community – and who warned him he could be arrested for making homophobic remarks.
Mr Mcalpine denied he was homophobic but said that as a Christian
he did believe homosexuality was a
sin. Three uniformed officers then arrested him.
After seven hours in a cell, which he spent reading the Bible and singing hymns, Mr Mcalpine was charged by a Senior Crown Prosecutor with offences under the Public Order Act 1986.
At a magistrates’ court late last month his trial date was set for September, but this newspaper’s coverage of his treatment provoked a public outcry.
Supporters of free speech, including gay-rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, called on the
new Home Secretary, Theresa May, to curb politically correct authorities. He said: ‘The Public Order Act is meant to protect people from harm. I urge the Home Secretary to issue new guidelines, making it clear the police should not arrest people for expressing bigoted views in a non-threatening and non-aggressive manner.’
Mike Judge of the Christian Institute, which has been backing Mr Mcalpine, said: ‘Cumbria police can’t just walk away from this as if nothing happened.
‘There is clearly a problem in the system that needs putting right.’
Chief Supt Steve Johnson, Police Commander for West Cumbria, said: ‘We would like to reassure the public that we respect, and are committed to upholding, the fundamental right to freedom of expression.’
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