The video of the arrest of Pastor Oluwole Ilesanmi has sparked outrage from Christians and non-Christians alike across the UK and the globe. But the story does not end with his arrest, it gets worse. Here Christian Concern’s Tim Dieppe explains what happened and how the actions of the police have been exposed.
The video of the arrest of street preacher Oluwole Ilesanmi on Saturday 23rd February outside Southgate Tube station quickly went viral, causing outrage all over the world.
Oluowole was preaching on the streets as he often does. The police officers confront him and then arrest him for breaching the peace. However, it is clear from the video that there is no-one whose peace is being breached.
Shortly before the arrest, Ambrosine Shitrit from Campaign4Truth and Eye on Antisemitism had seen him interacting with another man who turned out to be a Muslim. She thought the Muslim was about to assault Oluwole. 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.
Police deny driving him away
When we spoke to Oluwole about his experience, he explained that after searching him, the police drove him away to a remote area before being de-arrested. Since he was de-arrested, it is clear that the police agree that he had committed no crime.
When journalist Marcus Jones of Premier Christian Radio asked the Met Police whether they agreed that he had been driven away to a remote 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.
It is astonishing that the police should deny what happened since their own GPS tracking on their police cars would confirm Oluwole’s story.
Police change their story
On Friday we put out a map showing the route that we believe the police car took, and where Oluwole was taken to, explaining that this is some 5.2 miles from Southgate Tube.
Journalists then asked the police to confirm that they are sure that Oluwole was not driven away before being de-arrested.
Here is the text of an email exchange with a journalist about this. 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
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
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
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.
New police story is still not the truth
Oluwole was not taken to Hadley Wood. He was taken to Wrotham Park which is some distance away from Hadley Wood and is outside the London Transport zone. He had an Oyster card with him which was not accepted on the bus. 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. Furthermore, there are no ATMs anywhere near the place where the police left him.
Oluwole had to work out where he was with his smart phone and then catch a bus back to High Barnet. When a bus came, he was told that his Oyster card was not accepted on this bus. He explained that he had been dropped there by the police and asked how he was going to get back. The driver asked him to leave the bus. He said that a passenger would help him, whereupon a passenger did volunteer to pay his £2 bus fare in cash. He still has the ticket which validates his account of what happened.
Here is a video reconstruction of what happened to Oluwole:
What happened to police integrity?
I would normally like to believe that I can trust the police, but this has raised serious questions about the levels of corruption in the Met Police. It is one thing to make a mistake, it is quite another to then attempt to cover it up with falsehoods.
Sign the petition
If you have not already, please sign our petition to the Home Secretary asking him to review the guidance to police officers regarding street preachers. Please share on social media and to your friends. Thousands have already signed, but many more would add to the pressure on the Home Secretary and the police.
We hope and expect that God will use the exposure of police practice from the arrest of street preacher Oluwole to force a change in police practice and to challenge their integrity in telling the press what happened.
Find out more about Oluwole Ilesanmi