A Christian street preacher was reported to counter terrorism police squad after publicly calling a transwoman a man and criticising homosexuality landed him with a criminal offence.
David McConnell, 42, who is regularly abused in the street for expressing his controversial views on sexuality, will this week launch an appeal over his 2021 conviction.
The Probation Service carried out a pre-sentence report on McConnell to assist the sentencing magistrates, commenting in it that his faith had turned him away from a ‘troubled, aimless past’ to become a ‘hard-working family man.’
It can now be revealed the probation officer stated that as McConnell ‘is viewed to be persistently and illegally espousing an extreme point of view,’ the officer ‘routinely liaised with my colleagues in the Joint Counter Terrorism Team’.
The probation report added: ‘They [CTT] have no further information on Mr McConnell that would suggest their intervention would be likely or helpful.’
Street preacher David McConnell, 42, was reported to counter-terror police for statements he made referring to a trans person
Campaigners backing his case spoke of their alarm that people were being labelled potential terrorists for not agreeing with ‘LGBTQ ideology.’
McConnell was addressing a crowd in Leeds city centre in June 2021 when he was filmed saying that ‘adulterers, drunkards and homosexuals will not inherit the Kingdom of Heaven.’
The letting agent, from Wakefield, said homosexuality was an ‘abomination in the eyes of God’ and that lesbianism was ‘unnatural’.
McConnell then referred to a transgender woman who challenged him about his views as ‘this gentleman’ and ‘a man in woman’s clothing.’
He continued to preach and was reportedly verbally abused by members of the public, assaulted, and at one point had possessions stolen, including an amplifier.
When a police officer turned up McConnell refused to accept he was doing anything illegal, but was arrested and held in custody for 14 hours.
The preacher has been criticised for comments he has made about trans and gay people, including saying that homosexuality was an ‘abomination’
Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, said yesterday: ‘What state are we in as a society when police fail to protect a street preacher who is assaulted, abused, and has his belongings stolen simply for stating biological reality? The abuse against David McConnell didn’t stop there – he was arrested, convicted and reported to counter-terrorism.
‘This case represents a disturbing trend in our society which is seeing members of the public and professionals being prosecuted and reported as potential terrorists for refusing to celebrate and approve LGBTQ ideology.’
She added that police had acted in a ‘deeply illiberal’ manner by arresting McConnell and added: ‘The Bible teaches clearly that we are born male and female; this belief and the freedom to express it in public without fear of being arrested or reported as a terrorist to Prevent must be protected.’
McConnell said: ‘George Orwell said: “Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows.” By that he meant that if we cannot speak truthfully, society will fall apart.
‘That is what is happening at the moment. When I was told I had been reported to counter-terrorism I just thought: “What has happened to this country?”‘
‘How I have been treated has been totally unreasonable and should concern anyone who cares about Christian freedoms and free speech in this country.’
McConnell has been street preaching across northern England for more than 15 years to ‘share the Bible’s message.’
He was ordered to do 80 hours unpaid work after being convicted at Leeds Magistrates Court of an offence under the Public Order Act of causing harassment, alarm or distress.
Commenting on the case last year, Elizabeth Wright, from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), said: ‘People have the right to hold opinions and express their views. But when words cross the line between a legitimate expression of religious views, and become distressing and threatening, the CPS will prosecute offenders if our legal test is met.’