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Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 May 2006, 14:41 GMT 15:41 UK
Council vows to silence preacher
Philip Howard
Mr Howard often asks shoppers if they are "sinners or winners"
A street preacher is fighting a council who wants to silence his daily megaphone sermons to shoppers.

Westminster Council has applied for an Anti Social Behaviour Order (Asbo) against Philip Howard, 52.

Mr Howard, from Paddington, west London, is well known for his fiery preaching, often telling passers-by: "Don't be a sinner, be a winner".

The council wants to prevent him from using his loudspeaker in Oxford Street and the surrounding area.

It said it had applied for the order following complaints about Mr Howard from the public.

I appreciate what I can do can be challenging and I think this nation needs a challenge because this nation's got no soul
Philip Howard, street preacher

The council alleges that he has acted in an anti-social manner likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress.

But Mr Howard said the council had chosen to listen to "a few of the moaners" rather than "the majority" who come and pat him on the back.

"I appreciate what I can do can be challenging and I think this nation needs a challenge because this nation's got no soul," he said.

"This city's got no soul."

A street newspaper vendor in Oxford Circus, where Mr Howard makes his regular exhortations, said he was harmless.

'Over and over'

"Everybody knows Phil in the West End," he said. "He doesn't do any harm. He walks up and down, he does a little bit of preaching."

Another vendor, tired by his preaching, said Mr Howard would not be missed.

"For 10 hours a day, you've got preachers and they say the same things over and over again," he said.

The case is being heard by Horseferry Road magistrates and is expected to finish on 5 May.


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