Police storm church broadcast in Milton Keynes over loud music

Police storm church broadcast in Milton Keynes over loud music

Police stormed into a church broadcast and incorrectly told a minister he was to be prosecuted for breaking Covid regulations.

Officers attended Kingdom Faith Ministries International Church in Milton Keynes last week after reports of loud music.

The pastor was told too many staff were running the online service forcing it to stop, a church spokesman said.

Thames Valley Police said there was a “misunderstanding” and apologised.

Rev Daniel Mateola was holding a legal broadcast service in the church to 150 online members of his congregation when two police officers arrived at the building on November 20, the Christian Legal Centre said.

The officers claimed there were too many people supporting the broadcast and demanded they leave.

The guidelines say “the numbers or people involved should be kept as small as possible to minimise risks and participants should follow social distancing guidance” but also states that technical support, musicians and singers are allowed if that is part of the usual form of worship.

When the pastor tried to refer police to the government guidelines on the safe use of places of worship during the pandemic, and insisted what they were doing was legal, a further seven officers were called, the centre said.

Pastor Mateola said officers had “escalated” the situation “unnecessarily” and the service had to be halted as staff left the building.

The Christian Legal Centre said four days later on 24 November officers went to Pastor Mateola’s home and informed him he was to be prosecuted for breaking government regulations.

An officer told him he had “broken coronavirus regulations…the music was blaring out loud”.

Pastor Mateola, who is one of a number of church leaders pursuing a judicial review against the English and Welsh government’s decision to close churches, said both incidents left him “deeply shocked” and that he was “being treated like a criminal”.

Thames Valley Police has apologised and said he will not face prosecution.

Ch Supt Robert France, from the force’s coronavirus response team, said: “It appears in this case that there has been a misunderstanding by our officers of the legislation in place in what is an ever-changing and complex area of enforcement.

“There has been a mistake in the issuing of this ticket and I would like to apologise for the distress I know this is likely to have caused.”

Leave a Reply