Press Release

Police caught out by street preacher evidence

13 March 2019         Issued by: Christian Legal Centre

The story of a Christian street preacher, whose video of arrest went viral across the world, has caught out the Metropolitan Police, who have had to change their story about what happened.

New evidence released today by Christian Concern backs up 64 year-old Mr Oluwole Ilesanmi’s claim that, following his arrest, he was driven by police to a remote location and left to make his own way home without money for a bus fare (see editor’s notes).

Police initially denied that they had driven the preacher anywhere. On being pressed, police changed their story and said that he was driven some 3.5 miles away to Hadley Wood.

However, Mr Ilesanmi’s bus ticket contradicts the police’s latest account, showing that he got on a bus at Wrotham Park 40 minutes after his arrest – which is 5.2 miles away from Southgate and outside London Transport zones.

That’s where he was de-arrested and left without any money to make his way home. In correspondence, the police force has claimed that they “checked that he had a bank card”. Mr Ilesanmi disputes this saying that he only had a London Oyster card, but in any case, the bus service Metroline does not accept card payments, nor was there an ATM nearby.

Andrea Williams, Chief Executive of Christian Concern, said: “We are astonished at the police’s actions. It was bad enough Oluwole being unnecessarily arrested for preaching the gospel, but how he was treated afterwards, and the statements the police have given to an outraged global public, have added to the clear picture that something has to change within the police.

“That is why we have launched a petition, not only calling on the Home Secretary to do more to protect freedom of speech on our streets, but also for an urgent review into how the police are trained to act within the law.

“We support a number of street preachers on a weekly basis who are being silenced by the police, and we will continue to stand with Oluwole as he considers what action he wants to take next.”

Notes for editors:


Pastor Oluwole Ilesanmi, 64, who is receiving support from Christian Concern, was arrested after preaching the gospel outside of Southgate tube station in North London on February 23rd.

Shortly before the arrest, Ambrosine Shitrit from Campaign4Truth and Eye on Antisemitism had seen Oluwole interacting with another man who turned out to be a Muslim. She thought the Muslim was about to assault Oluwole and she went over and started filming with her phone. There was a robust exchange of views between the Muslim and Oluwole about each other’s religions. When the police came in response to a 999 call, the Muslim man left the scene.

The footage that Ambrosine subsequently posted online ( sparked outrage amongst Christians and non-Christians alike from the US to Nigeria.

But the story does not end there.

When Christian Concern spoke to Oluwole about his experience, he explained that after searching him, the police drove him away to Wrotham Park, a remote area outside of the London transport zone. Here he was de-arrested, which shows that the police concluded that he had committed no crime.

When journalist Marcus Jones of Premier Christian Radio asked the Met Police on February 26th whether they agreed that he had been driven away to this location, the Met Police expressly denied it. In an email exchange they said:

No – that is not correct. The man who was arrested was walked approx. 200m away; de-arrested and shown to a nearby bus stop.

On Friday 8th March, Christian Concern released a map showing the route that Oluwole says the police took him, and where he was taken to, presenting that this is some 5.2 miles from Southgate tube.

After Christian Concern released this information, a journalist (see editor’s notes) then asked the police to confirm that they were sure that Oluwole was not driven away before being de-arrested. Amazingly the police changed their statement, stating that instead of 200m, Oluwole was driven 3.5 miles to Hadley Wood, a location just inside the London transport zone. They also stated that officers had checked if Oluwole had a bank card on him.

This is still not true and Oluwole has the evidence to prove it. Oluwole was not taken to Hadley Wood, but to Wrotham Park, which is still some distance from the location the police have specified and is outside of the London transport zone. He had an Oyster card with him which was not accepted on a bus he could get on at this location, and he is clear that he did not have a bank card on him when the police searched him. Bank cards are in any case not accepted on the 84 Metro Line bus which he eventually caught (see Furthermore, there are no ATMs anywhere near the place where the police left him.

Thankfully, a member of the public paid the £2.00 bus fare for Oluwole to get back to Barnet where he could then use his Oyster card to get back to Southgate. He still has the ticket which validates his account of what happened (see images below). Despite all the police efforts to silence Oluwole and to ensure he would not continue to preach outside Southgate tube, he made his way back there and preached for another two hours that evening.

Email exchange between journalist and police

Here is an email exchange between a journalist and the police about whether Oluwole was taken 200m or 5.2 miles away after being arrested. It has been edited to remove unnecessary information, but the quotes are verbatim unless otherwise indicated.

8 March 2019 12:56
From: Met Police
Re location of de-arrest – The man who was arrested was walked approx. 200m away; de-arrested and shown to a nearby bus stop.
8 March 2019 13:07
From: Journalist
OK thanks [name omitted], so he was definitely not transported in any vehicle by the police officers?

8 March 2019 13:21
From: Met Police
No, having spoken with the borough our line, as you’ve seen, is very clear… (That said, I’m always anxious where there are two accounts so blatantly at odds. I take it you’ve spoken with the man? And he describes quite specifically being driven some distance?)
8 March 2019 13:24
From: Journalist
Thanks for your help. Mr Ilesanmi is very clear; he says that he was taken in a vehicle by the officers and driven some distance away, to Wrotham Park, where he was left. Appreciate your efforts with this.
8 March 2019 18:39
From: Met Police
This is the correct information. Apologies for the earlier incorrect response.

Having walked away from Southgate tube station with officers, the man was driven approx. 3.5 miles to Hadley Wood in north London, where he was left at a bus stop.

The arrest was made in order to prevent a breach of the peace, both due to reports to police about the man’s behaviour and concerns for his own welfare were he to continue to engage with members of the public at the station. The man was later de-arrested.

= Why was he taken so far?

As the man indicated that he wished to continue his activities at Southgate tube station, officers felt it necessary to take the man some distance from the station in order to prevent a breach of the peace at that location.

= Was it established whether the man was able to pay to travel home?

Yes, officers checked that he had a bank card.
8 March 2019 19:06
From: Journalist
Thanks [name withheld], given the earlier incorrect information please could the below be clarified? Mr Ilesanmi says he was taken 5.2 miles away and dropped at the edge of Wrotham Park outside of the London transport zone. He also insists that he had no money on him when he was left by the police. I just want to be sure on the exact distance: is the 3.5 mile figure an exact distance or an estimate? Thanks
8 March 2019 19:12
From: Met Police
Distance below is approximate.
The man was driven approximately 3.5 miles to Hadley Wood in north London, where he was left at a bus stop. As stated below, the man was left at a bus stop with a bank card. 

  • Share