[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
Launch consoleBBC News in video and audio
Last Updated: Thursday, 28 September 2006, 16:30 GMT 17:30 UK
Anti-gay leaflets charge dropped
Stephen Green
Mr Green's supporters shouted "Hallelujah!" at the case's outcome
A Christian campaigner has been cleared of using threatening words and behaviour when handing out leaflets at a gay and lesbian event in Cardiff.

Stephen Green, 55, said he may take legal action after a court case against him was dropped for lack of evidence.

Mr Green, from Carmarthen, is the national director of the evangelical lobby group Christian Voice.

South Wales Police have insisted they were right to arrest Mr Green.

Supporters of Mr Green shouted "Hallelujah!" and clapped at Cardiff Magistrates Court as a legal adviser announced the Crown Prosecution Service's decision not to proceed with the case.

It is important that Christians should be able to stand up for the Gospel and resist any attempt by the police to trample our civil rights
Stephen Green, Christian Voice

He was arrested when he refused to stop handing out leaflets at the entrance to Cardiff's Mardi Gras gay and lesbian festival in Bute Park earlier this month, which was attended by around 40,000 people.

The leaflets quoted the Bible and that told gays: "Turn from your sins and you will be saved."

He was held in a police station for four hours and was charged with using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress after he refused to accept a caution from the force's Minorities Support Unit.

'Blasphemous'

Mr Green denied the charge, claiming his freedom of speech was being infringed. After the case, he described his arrest as "a big wake-up call to evangelists".

The father-of-one said his treatment on the day of the festival was "disgraceful" and promised he would return to the next festival with even more supporters.

He said: "The police should concentrate on nicking villains instead of people like me going about my lawful business.

"It is important that Christians should be able to stand up for the Gospel and resist any attempt by the police to trample our civil rights.

"I'm quite pleased the CPS had the good sense to drop this case at an early stage. The police should never have arrested me in the first place, let alone charged me."

Mr Green had previously protested at the city's Wales Millennium Centre outside performances of Jerry Springer: The Opera, claiming it was blasphemous.

'Vulnerable'

Mr Green's solicitor, Mark Williams, said he regarded his client's arrest at the Mardi Gras as "an abuse of police powers" and said they would be taking action in the civil courts.

South Wales Police force has defended its handling of the case, saying the CPS decison not to go ahead with the presecution of Mr Green due to insufficient evidence did not "challenge the legality" of his arrest.

It added that the force had a "proven record" of supporting the freedom of expression in facilitating marches and demonstrations over many years.

Deputy Chief Constable David Francis said: "Equally, we are very proud of our stand on supporting and protecting the most vulnerable in our communities, especially those who are the victims of prejudice and discrimination, harassment and even hatred."


SEE ALSO
Christian denies anti-gay charge
06 Sep 06 |  South East Wales



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific