DORSET Police has agreed more than £1,000 in costs to a Christian charity leader's solicitor, after a police officer used “reasonable force” to halt preaching during the first Covid-19 lockdown.

The force’s action has been described as “intimidating and humiliating”.

The incident took place in Blandford’s Market Place, at around 1pm on April 22, when police were called to reports of a Covid-19 breach.

Dominic Muir, a chief executive of Christian charities Now Believe and Jesus Fields, was standing on the back of his truck singing and preaching from the Bible with a microphone, which was considered by the force as “a breach of the Government’s Covid-19 legislation”.

A Dorset Police spokesperson added: “[Dominic’s] conduct was attracting other people to the scene, which was creating a gathering – something we considered also breached the rules in place.

“It is important to remember that there was a significant risk to public health at the time of these events as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.”

The spokesperson added: “The officer tried to engage with the complainant and encourage him to stop. However, he failed to cooperate so the officer used reasonable force to remove him from the truck.

"The complainant then left the scene voluntarily. In total, any detention by the officer in question lasted less than a minute.”

Following the incident however, Dominic sought help from the Christian Legal Centre, which assisted him with a letter to the chief constable of Dorset Police seeking compensation.

The force has now paid £1,250 to Dominic and his legal team - broken down, a £50 without prejudice offer to Dominic, which was accepted, and £1,200 in costs to his solicitor.

Responding to the settlement, Dominic said: “It was intimidating and humiliating to be confronted by the police in this way and treated as a potential criminal.

"I have no doubt that if I had continued to preach or sing, I would have been handcuffed, arrested and taken to the police station.

“During the pandemic I have honoured social distancing, but I also have a legitimate job to do, which is to preach the gospel."

He added: “For centuries, street preaching in the UK was an honoured profession that was respected and deemed essential to people’s physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.

"To be shut down by the police like this represented a huge shift for me and shows the extent of society’s secularisation.”