A Leeds city centre preacher who was arrested after an angry crowd challenged his ‘hateful’ friend says he is suing the police for unlawful arrest.
Andy Nix, 63, stood beside his friend, also a preacher, who was telling crowds “turn from your wicked ways” and “put your trust in God” as crowds jeered at them, in footage which surfaced in July.
Crowds shouted back “you’re hateful’, challenging the preacher’s words.
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But Andy Nix, 63, has criticised West Yorkshire Police after he claims a member of the public tried to “wrestle” his cross off him.
He claims officers arrested him and held him in a cell overnight.
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Speaking about the incident on July 6, he said it was the most “shocking” thing that has happened to him.
He told LeedsLive he was stood beside his friend beside Debenhams in Briggate, who was accused of preaching ‘hateful’ homophobic views by an angry crowd.
Andy said he was then was arrested and held in a cell overnight.
Andy’s bail form lists his offence as ‘racially/religiously aggravated harassment/alarm/distress by words/writing’.
But Andy denies the offence and is now suing the force.
‘Tried to wrestle my cross off me’
Andy has claimed he was “unlawfully arrested” and thrown in a cell
Andy said: “I was with a friend, who was preaching at the time, just by Debenhams. I was standing there with a cross. There were 12 to 16 very hostile people.
“One particular guy was very vocal, he suddenly lunged forward and tried to wrestle my cross off me. He literally came and grabbed me. I held on to it. A police officer got involved. At one point she [the officer] tried to get the cross off me and give it to him.
“Then he went away. The police didn’t try and question him, they didn’t try to arrest him or anything. They just let him go.
“She said to this guy, ‘leave him – they’re not worth it’.”
The 63-year-old claims to have video evidence supporting his version of events, adding that The Crown Prosecution Services (CPS) dismissed the charges against him.
Andy said during his stay in a cell, police officers thumped on his cell door at 2am. They woke him up to question him but he refused and said he’d speak to them later – at a less ungodly hour. The preacher is also making a complaint about this as he believes it was against his human rights.
Andy Nix works as a special needs teaching assistant and preaches in Leeds city centre on weekends
(Image: Samuel Port)
Andy added: “The most shocking thing is how now, compared to 10 or 15 years ago, the police are not interested in protecting the freedom of speech with people like us. They’re only interested in being politically correct.
“Anyone who makes any false accusation like ‘oh they’ve been homophobic’ – they just take that as truth and ask us to stop. They do anything to make their own lives easier. That’s the most shocking thing, the hostility of the police.”
West Yorkshire Police said they are presently unable to respond to Andy’s allegations, whilst legal matters are underway as Andy has made a claim for damages.
A force spokesperson said: “West Yorkshire Police has received a claim for damages relating to this matter and is therefore unable to comment further at this time.”
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Andy’s legal team at Christian Concern has also been asked for a comment.
Andy, from Roundhay, is a father-of-three and a special needs teaching assistant. He preaches in Leeds city centre most weekends, holding his large homemade cross aloft, bellowing his beliefs to passing shoppers in Briggate.
The “evangelical Pentecostal” preacher said he was motivated to spread the word of God ever since a miraculous event in 1980.
He claims his speech impediment, a stutter, was miraculously healed after converting and he now sees it as a “gift” bestowed up him to “speak without fear” to the public.
Andy also believes in the supernatural – that people can “speak in tongues” and “God still heals”.
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