Uxbridge Court Finds Pastor Sherwood Innocent
Special Report by Roland Parsons
That any police force would attempt to criminalise the Bible message on Christian Marriage should be a wake-up call to Christians in Britain. At Uxbridge, the constituency of the Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the Pastor of a church in north London had preached in the town centre outside the tube station on 23 April 2021 that Christian Marriage can only be between one man and one woman. The preacher had stood on a 2 step ladder, Bible in hand with Bible texts displayed and using his natural voice. Now on 7 April 2022 at 10.15am the Pastor John Sherwood, age 72, sat with a serious face in front of the Deputy District Judge in Court 2 of the Uxbridge Magistrates Court. The Criminal charge against the Christian Pastor written on the wall outside the Court read, “Using threatening/abusive words/behaviour likely to cause harassment alarm or distress”.
Queens Counsel, Jane Osborne, defending Pastor Sherwood asked Mr Draycot “Was the point of the message about man created men and women and that was how God intended it?” Mr. Draycot replied, “I would say so. Yes.” Queen’s Counsel asked “What did you hear about Homosexuality?” Referring to the second time he walked by, when the Police had arrived, Mr. Draycot said there, “Was a statement that it was sin. It’s wrong in God’s eyes and it says so in the Bible.” He was then asked if he remembered him saying “We are all sinners and that liars are sinners.” Mr. Draycot said “I cannot remember, it was now a slanging-match.” Mr. Draycot confirmed that Mr. Sherwood had not threatened him or singled him out. Mr. Draycot had his two year old daughter with him and he thought there should, “Not be someone expressing a point of view when children are around.”
The Prosecutor then called Police Constable Francesca Beadle to the Witness Box, who with PC Dayo and PC Ade had arrested and handcuffed the Pastor. She had “Made him aware that a single member of the public had complained and she impressed on him the nature of his preaching”. A video clip was then played showing the Pastor debating vigorously with the Police what it was legal to say.
The Pastor gave examples to the police including reading to them from the Bible “For man to lie with man is abomination.” “Just declaring what God said. I am going to preach.” A police man responds, “If we get one more call you are coming with us”. The Pastor says “Everyone of us is a sinner. Fornication and lying is sin.” Someone responds “When it becomes offensive it becomes an offence.” The Pastor is heard saying to the police “There is no public disorder here. We are preaching the Gospel. I am exercising my freedom of speech. I am not going. I must preach the word of God.” PC Beadle at the end of giving her evidence said “We continued to try to get him to understand that people were upset. At 13.50 hrs, we said we would arrest him under Section 5 of the Public Order Act. Following the Caution he said “I was preaching the Bible, only man and woman, not man and man, not woman and woman”.”
Queen’s Counsel for Pastor Sherwood asked PC Beadle, “While you were there did he say anything abusive?” P.C. Beadle replied, “Not abusive.” Asked again she said “Not abusive. No.” She was asked if there was a scene of disorder. P.C. Beadle replied “No scene of disorder. There were a few shoppers. There was disorder because someone had flagged us down”. Queen’s Counsel asked “No risk of disorder?” She then replied, “It could change, but no concern particularly.” Queen’s Counsel, “You had the Bible read to you?” PC Beadle replied, “Yes”.
The Prosecutor then went through the police interview transcript where the Pastor had said at the Interview with the three arresting police officers “I was preaching the Gospel and doing my work. I said men cannot re-produce biologically so just stating a fact. I do not accept that any of my words are offensive. We bring morality and righteousness. No-one came up to me and said I am offended. You (the police) were very disorderly as Christians witnessed. I respect all members of the public. The Protestant Reformed Religion is under the Crown and so are you.”
The Defendant John Sherwood in the Witness Box said, “I have preached in the Open Air for 35 years and at Uxbridge for 3 to 4 years. I preached on Genesis Chapter 1 on Creation, male and female made in the image of God to be fruitful and to multiply and about the ‘Bridegroom’ and the ‘Church’ being Jesus Christ and the ‘Bride’. On Homosexuality, I referred to it because 2 men or 2 women could not multiply biologically. I preached the Biblical view — “A man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and shall become one flesh so that what God has joined together no man should put asunder.” Asked to define sin he said, “Contravention of the 10 Commandments is sin. Including “Thou shalt not commit Adultery” which is all sexual activity outside marriage.” He had preached for “10 or 15 minutes to not a vast crowd. I did not address individuals. I was not aware of any hostility at all. I spoke of the Beauty of the family, that we have got Brothers and Sisters, Mother and Father. My motivation was to bring people to Salvation.”
Queen’s Counsel then continued the ‘Defence’ by asking the Pastor “Did Homosexuality form a large part?” The Pastor replied, “No. It came to light when the Police arrived. It had not been an issue leading up to that.”
Suddenly the Court Case took an extraordinary turn. The ‘Defence’ was stopped by the Judge including not having the two Defence Witnesses, Rev. Peter Simpson and Mrs. Patricia Newman. Then the Prosecutor, Mr Patel, summed up the prosecution evidence. Finally Queen’s Counsel, Jane Osborne, referred to the Case Law of Redmond-Bate 1999 in which those judges declared “Freedom of Speech, included the Irritating, Contentious, Eccentric, Heretical, Unwelcome, and Provocative. It includes not only the inoffensive. Freedom only to speak inoffensively is not worth having.” Queen’s Counsel continued “His intention was to spread the word of God. Beliefs he holds closely. He came (to Uxbridge) 3 years before because of community tension. To dispel that tension every 2 weeks for 3 years. His conduct was reasonable. Therefore not guilty.”