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Taunton street preacher being investigated by police hits back
Updated 12:00pm Thursday 26th June 2014 in News
A STREET preacher who admits offending passers-by has hit back by making a complaint against a police officer investigating him.
Michael Overd says the police should protect his right to free speech instead of calling for people to video any confrontations with him in Taunton town centre.
He wants the force to discipline Acting Inspector Neil Kimmins, who has already collected 20 videos submitted by members of the public.
Acting Insp Kimmins says he will collate all the evidence and present it to the Crown Prosecution Service to decide whether to bring any charges.
He made the original appeal after several complainants upset at the way Mr Overd expressed his views on homosexuality and sex outside marriage.
Mr Overd, of Creech St Michael, has praised the police for coming to his assistance when a “mob” of six people surrounded him after he was involved in a confrontation with a woman unhappy about his preaching against homosexuality in Castle Green on Monday.
He said: “People were desperate to stop me preaching and I was accused of hate preaching.
“The police came and calmed things down.”
Mr Overd, who was cleared of harassment following a trial at Taunton Magisrates’ Courts in 2012, said most people approaching him are “aggressive, abusive and angry” and one man nearly pushed him over in High Street recently.
But he added: “It isn’t the public’s job to video me – it’s up to the police if I’m a ‘dangerous preacher breaking the law’.
“I’ve been preaching on the streets of Taunton for six or seven years – if I’m this ‘law-breaking, crazy preacher’, how on earth have I managed to get away with it for so long?
“The Metropolitan Police say they don’t have the resources to go after Islamic hate preachers, yet Avon and Somerset Police have the resources to go after this Christian preacher.”
He said: “I’m not discouraged because my eyes are fixed on Jesus.”
Police are still appealing for people to send their street preacher video clips to firstname.lastname@example.org
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