A Christian street preacher who was arrested for spouting homophobic comments at a gay shopper and subsequently cleared, has claimed that the police did not give him a Bible whilst an “Asian prisoner” received a Quran upon request.
Evangelist Tony Rollins, who has spent 19 years trying to “save souls” through public sermons in Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Coventry, is demanding to know why it took so long to return his King James Bible, taken by police as evidence following his arrest last April.
The 49-year-old wants to know why it was considered evidence at all. It was never presented during his trial following unsuccessful claims that his strict, public pronouncements on the sanctity of marriage constituted a public order offence.
Disabled Mr Rollins also claims that, despite repeated requests, officers refused to give him the Bible to read while he remained in custody for six hours after being arrested for the Coventry shopping centre sermon on the “perils of homosexuality”.
The cleric told the Sunday Mercury – a government guide for Muslims who need to pray that there was a stencilled sign on the ceiling stating “Mecca this way”. Mr Rollins also claims one Asian prisoner revealed he had asked for a copy of the Quran and was told the request would not be an issue.
The preacher has now demanded an apology from senior officers at Coventry police.
“There wasn’t an arrow pointing to Rome for Roman Catholics or Jerusalem for Jews,” he said.
“I probably shouldn’t say it, but if they had arrested a Muslim or someone from any other religion and found them not guilty, would they have waited eight months to give them their sacred book back?
“Sikhs, Hindus, Muslims – if they’d taken their book and not given it back, would there be any comeback?”
A West Midlands Police spokesman said there was no record of Mr Rollins asking for a Bible during his stay in cells. As policy, religious literature, including the Bible and Quran, are kept at the custody suite, available to prisoners who need them.