Press Release

Tory councillor reveals police threats to storm council building and arrest him during planning meeting for free speech beliefs

19 May 2024         Issued by: Christian Concern

A democratically elected Conservative councillor has launched a formal complaint to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) after officers threatened to storm a council building and arrest him if he attended a planning committee meeting.

An unprecedented story, the complaint launched by Cllr Anthony Stevens, 51, from Wellingborough, calls for an investigation into ‘the methods, motives and conduct’ of officers at Northamptonshire police.

The evidence includes during a series of incidents officers openly stated that they wanted to ‘remove’ Cllr Stevens as an elected councillor for his free speech beliefs.

The story involves arrests, interrogations, media censorship and collusion between police officers and Labour party activists.

The beliefs expressed by Cllr Stevens in a handful of tweets to 76 followers on X/Twitter, included backing a fellow Conservative councillor’s right to express his Christian beliefs.

Other than these tweets, no other evidence has ever been presented by Northamptonshire police to justify the arrest or their subsequent actions.

The IOPC complaint, is supported by the Christian Legal Centre and backed by a long-standing local Conservative councillor in Northampton, Cllr Jonathan Ekins.

In a witness statement provided by Cllr Ekins, he said he was called by Detective Constable, Amelia Thompson, who did not initially provide her name, on three separate occasions.

The first time was the week before Cllr Stevens was arrested in August 2023, without warning, at his home in front of his children for an alleged ‘hate crime.’

Arrested in front of children

Cllr Ekins was told by DC Thompson that Cllr Stevens was going to be ‘arrested for a serious offence’, and that he must not alert him of the pending arrest.

Without giving any details of the alleged ‘hate crime’, Cllr Ekins was told that the police ‘in their opinion’ did not think Cllr Stevens was ‘a fit person to be a councillor’ and that he should be ‘removed’ from office.

Cllr Ekins said he responded categorically that ‘nobody can do that as he is a publicly elected member of the council.’

My response was clear”, he added, “I replied it was not within my power to remove anybody from being a councillor. I said “Nobody can do that. He is a publicly elected member of the council. All we could do would be to suspend him from the Conservative party group. But he still sits as an independent on the council because he was legally elected as a member.”

Nonetheless, on 8 August 2023, the police arrived unannounced at Cllr Stevens’ home, searched him in front of his wife and children and told him he was under arrest for a public order offence under section 19 of the Public Order Act 1986.

Detained at Kettering police station, he had his fingerprints and DNA taken and was placed in a police cell for 6 hours.

Taken to the interview room, he was interrogated and told that he had been arrested for allegedly ‘inciting racial hatred’. Shocked, Cllr Stevens responded: ‘That is ridiculous, I am no racist.’

He was then told that members of the local Labour Party, Cllr Tony Aslam and activist, Jack Summers, had reported him to the police.

Backed cancelled Christian counsellor

The focus of the police interview, however, centred on an incident weeks earlier that had rocked Northamptonshire Council and gained national and international media attention.

In July 2023, Cllr King Lawal, another Conservative councillor in Northamptonshire, had been suspended by the local Conservative group and cancelled from several organisations for saying on X that ‘Pride is Sin.’

Following coordination between Labour activists and local media, Cllr Lawal was forced to step down from his own business for the comments and even barred from the local library.

Following news breaking in the media that Cllr Lawal intended to explore his legal options and was being investigated by CCHQ, Cllr Stevens retweeted a petition calling for him to be reinstated and commented: ‘If you value free speech please sign and share’.

He also shared a video of Cllr Lawal, who has since been fully vindicated, being interviewed on GB News by Conservative MP, Jacob Rees-Mogg. Cllr Stevens tweeted: ‘That is my friend, everyone has a right to their beliefs, people can disagree as is their right but to ruin their standing because of them is wrong.’

Officers showed Cllr Stevens these posts and asked him why he supported the petition. Cllr Stevens stated that he is a free speech absolutist and that even if he does not agree with someone/something, he believes in their right to express their beliefs.

He was then asked if he agreed with Cllr Lawal’s original tweet that ‘Pride is a sin’, including LGBT events. Cllr Stevens said that it did not matter whether he agreed with what he said or not, he believed he had the right to say it without having his life torn apart.

Cllr Stevens was also questioned about two other historic posts he made on X between March and May 2023.

One tweet involved a video of a man burning a copy of the Qur’an which the Twitter user said an individual should be free to do without fear in a free society. Cllr Stevens retweeted and simply wrote ‘Yep’.

Another tweet used to justify his arrest involved retweeting, without comment, a video on how the Metropolitan police had treated a Christian street preacher compared to a Muslim preacher.

The video showed the arrest of Christian preacher Oluwole Ilesanmi in Southgate, London, in 2019, a video that has been viewed over 10 million times globally.

The police officers told Cllr Stevens that the original tweet he had shared had been posted by a member of Britain First. Cllr Stevens said he had not known this and had not known who Britain First were. He only re-posted the video as disturbing evidence of religious discrimination in law enforcement.

The interview finished, his mobile phone was seized to be searched for further evidence and he was then released on police bail.

Media censorship

Going to the media with his story, Baroness Jacqueline Foster tweeted the Chief Constable of Northamptonshire Police, Nick Adderley, describing what had happened as an ‘appalling episode and breach of free speech’.

She urged the police to drop the charges so that Cllr Stevens can ‘get on with his life.’

In response, Adderly said he had requested a ‘review’ of the ‘circumstances and facts of the case.’

Since Cllr Stevens’ story broke, Nick Adderley has been suspended and is facing two criminal inquiries, including for fraud.

At the time Cllr Stevens’ story broke, Lord Macdonald, former director of public prosecutions, said: “It is essential that police officers are properly trained in the importance of free speech rights and the particularly strong protection that the law gives to political speech.

“Some cases reveal an alarming ignorance and are bound to chill public participation in democratic debate. Causing offence is not, and never should be, a crime. If it becomes so, we will lose something precious treasured by generations of Britons.”

Instead of the case being dropped against him, however, while media interest in the story was building, Cllr Stevens received a letter through his door from Detective Inspector Mark Hopkinson from the Criminal Investigation department.

The letter, which was also sent to other media outlets, aimed to prevent the media from covering the story any further and to intimidate Cllr Stevens into silence.

Such was the level of intimidation, that media outlets, such as GB News’ ‘Free Speech Nation’, pulled planned interviews with Cllr Stevens.

In response, his lawyers wrote to the police stating:

The arrest of our client, a democratically elected office-holder, for social media posts about matters of public interest, is self-evidently a matter for legitimate media attention, public debate and criticism.”

The letter accused the police of “an outright attempt to intimidate our client and media organisations and to stifle legitimate criticism of the police. Such behaviour is wholly unacceptable for a police officer in a free country.

“Please note that our client will not be intimidated and fully reserves the right to inform the public about your client’s oppressive, arbitrary and/or unconstitutional conduct. All our client’s rights are fully reserved.”

Threat to storm council building

Despite the arrest and censorship, on the 26 September 2023, in his role of Vice Chair of the Planning Committee at Wellingborough Town Council, Cllr Stevens attended the monthly committee meeting.

Days following the meeting, which passed without incident, Cllr Ekins said that he received another call from DC Amelia Thompson.

She alleged that Cllr Stevens had breached his bail conditions by attending the meeting, as the Labour councillor, Cllr Tony Aslam, who had originally made the police report, was also in attendance and had complained.

Cllr Ekins relayed that Cllr Stevens had arrived at the meeting first and that the two men had not interacted in any way.

Cllr Ekins said: “DC Thompson then continued to say that Anthony Stevens would not be allowed to attend another planning meeting. If Tony Aslam was present and if the police became aware that was going to happen, they intended to turn up at the meeting and arrest Anthony on the spot.

“My response was, rightly, to remind DC Thompson that she would be welcome to try but that, as Chair of the committee, I have the right to forbid entry to any persons in the meeting room and to instruct the Security officials to remove the police for public disruption of a democratically constituted meeting.”

Bail conditions and case dropped

In an effort to prevent him carrying out his duties, on 1 November 2023, Cllr Stevens’ bail conditions were extended and included him being unable to attend council committee meetings at the same time as Cllr Aslam.

Cllr Stevens challenged these conditions, accusing the police of ‘interfering with the democratic process of Wellingborough Town Council and the administration of my duties as an elected representative in particular.’

In December 2023, however, Cllr Stevens was phoned out of the blue by the police and was told that the case against him was dropped on the advice of the CPS and that there would be no further action.

Northamptonshire Police, with no explanation or apology, put in an email: ‘I write to inform you that Mr Anthony STEVENS has been informed this evening of the Crown Prosecutions decision that there will be No Further Action in relation to his involved case.’

Following his vindication, Cllr Stevens’ lawyers are now calling for an investigation into the police’s conduct, a public apology exonerating him from accusation of being a racist, and a written assurance that his DNA, fingerprints, and personal records will be destroyed.


Responding to the news, Cllr Stephens said: “I have been repeatedly horrified by the actions of the police and subsequent revelations regarding their conduct. Their actions were lawless, totalitarian, an abuse of power, politically motivated and biased, you name it, the list is endless.

“The police openly colluded with a political party in seeking to lawlessly remove a legally elected councillor because I support an absolute right to free speech.

“My reputation, business, health and even my relationships, have been seriously affected by this abuse of police power.

“I therefore have no choice but to pursue this matter and to expose what has happened. We cannot allow this to happen again in Northampton or at any other police force across the country.

“In a true democratic society, you cannot have people being arrested for a few tweets. We must have debate; we must have the freedom to criticise and offend each other.”

Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, said: “The root cause of what happened to Anthony Stevens stemmed from a Christian Conservative councillor expressing his belief that ‘Pride is Sin.’

“Labour activists in Northamptonshire simply could not handle a democratically elected member expressing these beliefs. They sought to root out anyone, like Anthony, who dared to support these beliefs in any form.

“The collusion with the police in this matter should deeply concern everyone. What happened undermined and trampled on our law, democracy and freedoms on every level. The police in this case acted without restraint land they weaponised their authority to shut down beliefs that do not align with secular orthodoxy.

“The media should be especially concerned by how the police censored and prevented them from covering the story.

“The idea of the police storming and arresting a councillor during a planning committee meeting is farcical, but in this case, it was a genuine and real threat and therefore terrifying for those involved.

“Be assured that if this is happening in Northampton, it will be happening in other parts the country. The culture being set in the police force needs to change. We admire Anthony’s courage to pursue justice and to expose what has happened to him and will support him at every step.”


Notes to editors:

Photo of Cllr Anthony Stevens

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