We got it wrong: Met Police apologises for ‘causing offence’ after volunteer officer told Christian singer to ‘stop performing church songs outside church grounds’ – as they admit she ‘was mistaken’

We got it wrong: Met Police apologises for ‘causing offence’ after volunteer officer told Christian singer to ‘stop performing church songs outside church grounds’ – as they admit she ‘was mistaken’

The Met Police have apologised for inflicting offence after a volunteer officer instructed Christian singer to ‘cease performing church songs exterior church grounds’.

The pressure mentioned the officer mustn’t have instructed the Harmonie London, 20, to cease performing her songs – as she says she felt ‘humiliated’, ‘unhappy’ and ‘bullied’ following the confrontation.

Volunteer officer Maya Hadzhipetkova was accused of breaking the musician’s human proper to freedom of expression and faith right this moment after she threatened to remove her devices following a efficiency of Wonderful Grace.

The Met has since clarified that the supposed breach was as a consequence of unlicensed busking fairly than the content material of the songs she was singing.

However they added: ‘The officer was mistaken in saying church songs can’t be sung exterior of church grounds.

‘We’re sorry for the offence triggered and can take the educational ahead.’

Christian singer Harmonie London is again out on Oxford Avenue in London enjoying right this moment

Harmonie London is playing Christian music on Oxford Street in London again today

Harmonie London is enjoying Christian music on Oxford Avenue in London once more right this moment

The pressure added that they’re conscious of the commentary on social media relating to the incident and the clip was a part of a 43 minute dialog between the pair. 

In an unique interview with MailOnline right this moment, Harmonie instructed how the officer had threatened to grab her keyboard and audio system if she didn’t cease singing – having already carried out Wonderful Grace and the up to date music Goodness of God.

It comes as Scotland Yard continues to analyze Ms Hadzhipetkova and evaluate body-worn footage of the surprising incident on Oxford Avenue in Central London final Sunday. The Met has claimed the row was over a ‘particular bylaw associated to busking’ – whereas Harmonie argues that she was not ‘busking’, however as a substitute ‘sharing the gospel’.

After telling the singer she couldn’t carry out, Ms Hadzhipetkova caught her tongue out on the digital camera. Her actions drew widespread condemnation – together with from ex-Conservative minister Ann Widdecombe who mentioned ‘some individuals have gotten an issue on this nation with Christianity which they do not seem to have with different faiths’.

There aren’t any legal guidelines in opposition to singing on pavements, Christian or in any other case – solely council bylaws regarding having a busking licence and never blocking roads – and Harmonie mentioned the incident breached her article 9 rights to freedom of faith.

A bit of the extraordinary trade as onlookers watched on was shared on Instagram by Harmonie – who has vowed to proceed enjoying and singing. Again out on Oxford Avenue right this moment, she mentioned she needed to ‘carry love and peace to the general public’. 

Anti-crime campaigner Norman Brennan condemned the video as ‘not a great look’; Christian Concern’s Andrea Williams mentioned it was ‘surprising’; and former Residence Workplace particular adviser Claire Pearsall urged the police to ‘go and cope with precise crime’.

Harmonie mentioned she has beforehand been visited by Jimmy Choo, Romeo Beckham and Rio Ferdinand – and approached by Jay-Z and Cardi B in addition to Sony Music.

People watch and give money to Harmonie London as she performs on Oxford Street today

Individuals watch and provides cash to Harmonie London as she performs on Oxford Avenue right this moment

Gospel singer Harmonie London was stopped by officer Maya Hadzhipetkova on Oxford Street

Gospel singer Harmonie London was stopped by officer Maya Hadzhipetkova on Oxford Avenue 

At the end of the video the officer stuck her tongue out at the singer as she continued filming

On the finish of the video the officer caught her tongue out on the singer as she continued filming

On the time, the Met mentioned: ‘We’re reviewing physique worn video of this interplay – it is greater than 40 minutes lengthy. On the coronary heart of it is a particular by-law associated to busking. The officer is aware of she might have dealt with this otherwise and is chatting with her supervisor.’

Detectives added that they have been ‘working to grasp the context by which these feedback have been made’ – but additionally condemned among the ‘unacceptable’ posts on social media about Ms Hadzhipetkova which it described as ‘private and hurtful’.

Is it unlawful to sing Christian songs exterior of church grounds? 

There is no such thing as a legislation in England and Wales in opposition to singing songs on pavements, whether or not Christian or in any other case.

The volunteer police officer was due to this fact mistaken to recommend Harmonie London couldn’t sing ‘church songs exterior of church grounds’.

There are council bylaws regarding having a busking licence and never blocking roads – which might have been what confused the officer.

The Metropolitan Police has claimed the disagreement was over a ‘particular bylaw associated to busking’.

Busking will not be unlawful in England and Wales however there could also be sure byelaws or guidelines imposed by councils, corresponding to not making an excessive amount of noise.

Singers additionally could to instructed to keep away from blocking pavements, not displaying notices asking for cost and solely busking in sure components of a city or for a set time period.

The Westminster Metropolis Council coverage for Oxford Avenue is that it’s among the many busking and avenue leisure regulated areas of the West Finish.

Coverage states that there’s a ‘mild contact licensing scheme’ relevant within the space, which suggests anybody will ‘solely be capable to busk in designated pitches’.

Additionally they want to use for a licence to carry out, preserve to phrases and circumstances of the designated pitches, and abide by the circumstances of their licence.

Harmonie London recurrently performs worship music to passing consumers on Oxford Avenue and has greater than 300,000 subscribers on YouTube.

However she was stopped on Sunday by Ms Hadzhipetkova and instructed: ‘No miss, you are not allowed to sing church songs exterior of church grounds, by the best way.’

As onlookers watched and filmed exterior the John Lewis retailer, Harmonie protested her innocence to the officer, saying: ‘You might be, you’re (capable of sing church songs).’

However Ms Hadzhipetkova continued to insist that Harmonie couldn’t sing ‘exterior of church grounds until you will have been authorised by the church to do these form of songs’.

Harmonie mentioned ‘that is a load of garbage, you are allowed’ – however the officer then walked away and one other mentioned: ‘She’s not saying something anymore, thanks to your time.’

The singer mentioned: ‘Are you saying that you do not care concerning the Human Rights Act?’

She then accused Ms Hadzhipetkova of ‘laughing’ whereas she was strolling away. The officer then caught her tongue out.

In a later video, Harmonie quoted Article 9 of the Human Rights Act 1998 which protects somebody’s proper to freedom of thought, perception and faith.

Chatting with MailOnline right this moment concerning the incident, Harmonie – who lives in North London – mentioned she had been singing John Newton’s Wonderful Grace and Goodness of God – a recent music by Bethel Music launched in 2019 – and there ‘wasn’t any sort of criticism or noise nuisance’.

Harmonie mentioned Oxford Avenue is manned by safety, and if any of the companies have an issue they’ll contact a staff who would then ask to maneuver her on, however ‘there was no criticism’.

She mentioned that earlier than the video was filmed, Ms Hadzhipetkova had ‘approached me earlier than, harassing me, and I defined to her that it is freedom of faith, article 9 – I had my human proper to sing the gospel, it isn’t the identical as busking’.

She continued: ‘I am really sharing the gospel. She went off however she was very argumentative. She got here again, she actually marched as much as me, stood in entrance of me and mentioned cease your music now. She actually laughed at my human rights.

‘She wasn’t . She acknowledged, she knew, and one other officer acknowledged that you simply do have freedom of faith and to specific your self. 

Christian singer Harmonie London is back out on Oxford Street in London playing today

Christian singer Harmonie London is again out on Oxford Avenue in London enjoying right this moment

People watch and film singer Harmonie London as she performs on Oxford Street today

Individuals watch and movie singer Harmonie London as she performs on Oxford Avenue right this moment

Christian singer Harmonie London is playing on Oxford Street in London again today

Christian singer Harmonie London is enjoying on Oxford Avenue in London once more right this moment

A woman knees on the pavement in worship during the singing by Harmonie London today

A girl knees on the pavement in worship throughout the singing by Harmonie London right this moment

‘To be sincere, I sing gospel to glorify God. I am simply actually following the Bible, sharing the Good Information. It is simply a possibility to witness to non-believers as nicely.

‘I do not strategy individuals. I do not pressure individuals to hear. I sing they usually can select to hear – and if they do not, they’ll select to maneuver on. A giant crowd shaped, they have been actually begging the police to go away me alone.’

She mentioned she handed them paperwork printed from the Christian Concern web site which said her authorized rights to carry out, however the police ‘did not care’.

She added: ‘I packed my stuff. I did not wish to argue with them. They weren’t taken with something I needed to say. Once I talked about the human rights, that is when she caught her tongue out.

‘She acknowledged it, however to them it does not matter. It was a really controlling surroundings. One other officer was making jokes saying ‘I will go and do some crime then, catch some criminals’ – attempting to make a joke of it.

‘A person mentioned one thing alongside the traces of, ‘there is a girl over there being robbed and also you’re right here’. Everyone was upset.’

She claimed one other girl mentioned: ‘This can be a Christian nation’.

Requested how the incident made her really feel, Harmonie mentioned: ‘I simply felt very upset by the scenario. It was fairly humiliating. I felt downcast and unhappy. Even after I packed up she stood there saying ‘are you going’?

‘She did not even need me to face on the pavement. She was bullying me. She was form of laughing, form of like ‘Hey, I am on this highly effective place’. It was very intimidating.

‘I am 20, I am a quiet particular person. Though I sing I do not actually like consideration and that is not the type of consideration I search. I felt very humiliated and small. I felt like my human rights did not matter, particularly when she was saying that ‘you possibly can’t sing church music’.

The officer told her that 'you're not allowed to sing church songs outside of church grounds'

The officer instructed her that ‘you are not allowed to sing church songs exterior of church grounds’

Ms Hadzhipetkova then walked away along Oxford Street as the singer continued to film her

Ms Hadzhipetkova then walked away alongside Oxford Avenue because the singer continued to movie her

‘That they had a lot energy that they may create their very own legal guidelines. It was nearly like you do not care whether or not I’ve human rights. When a police officer is telling you that, and threatening to take your gear… an enormous crowd gathered to guard me.’

She added that the Bible encourages individuals to ‘sing God’s praises’ and that ‘I’ll proceed to do what I do.’

Harmonie additionally claimed that Ms Hadzhipetkova ‘threatened to take my gear’ and mentioned she would ‘seize it’.

She continued: ‘Then I believed to myself, what am I going to do? My gear may be very costly, Yamaha has given me the piano and AER has given me the audio system, they’re price about £3,000.

‘Once I do my gospel, I do not make that a lot cash. I simply make sufficient to cowl congestion cost, petrol, possibly some meals, after which I am attempting to file in a studio as a result of I am attempting to carry out my very own gospel album.

‘My gear’s been given to me by these huge names as a result of they take pleasure in what I do.’

She added that any council bylaws regarding busking ‘do not apply to freedom of expression, it is a human proper’.

Harmonie continued: ‘On the finish of the day I am not there to upset individuals and trigger a nuisance. I usually go there for 30, 40 minutes, sing gospel music, which is my alternative of music.

People watch and give money to Harmonie London as she performs on Oxford Street today

Individuals watch and provides cash to Harmonie London as she performs on Oxford Avenue right this moment

Harmonie London sets up her equipment this afternoon as she performs on Oxford Street

Harmonie London units up her gear this afternoon as she performs on Oxford Avenue

Christian singer Harmonie London is playing on Oxford Street in London again today

Christian singer Harmonie London is enjoying on Oxford Avenue in London once more right this moment

Harmonie London performs on Oxford Street today, two days after being confronted by police

Harmonie London performs on Oxford Avenue right this moment, two days after being confronted by police

‘Even a Muslim girl wrote on TikTok: ‘I am Muslim and I would like you to sing this louder’. I wasn’t inflicting anyone any bother or any offence. No companies referred to as them.’

Harmonie mentioned she had been performing Christian music for the previous 18 months, including: ‘I simply needed to do the music that is near my coronary heart, that I determine with, that is near me as an individual. It is music that I resonate with.’

She added that she had been performing because the age of 14 however used to sing songs by secular artists corresponding to Ed Sheeran and Adele.

Harmonie additionally confirmed that she had by no means had such bother earlier than – and one police officer even gave her cash, saying ‘do not hand over, preserve singing’.

She continued: ‘Everyone enjoys my singing, Jimmy Choo got here to see me and David Beckham’s son Romeo Beckham got here to see me, Rio Ferdinand got here to see me.

‘There’s fairly a couple of folks that flip up. I get numerous Individuals contacting me. The gospel part of Sony in America desires to signal me. I have been invited to America with Jay-Z. I have been approached by Cardi B.

‘In the mean time I am simply constructing my music and remaining impartial as a result of I do not wish to be signed and obligated into offers. On TikTok I’ve acquired 531,000 followers. My most up-to-date put up on Instagram reached 28million views.

Harmonie has mentioned that she will not be ‘busking’, however as a substitute ‘sharing the gospel’ when she sings

‘Individuals actually take pleasure in it. I am not there to trigger offence or upset to the general public. It is simply to carry love and peace to the general public. I get a whole bunch of messages, individuals saying I want this to church, I went to church due to this. Individuals are writing numerous issues.’

She added that she didn’t wish to name for any particular motion in opposition to the police officer.

Ms Hadzhipetkova beforehand lived in Bulgaria earlier than shifting to Cyprus in 2009 the place she lived for 5 years earlier than heading to the UK, in line with her LinkedIn.

Since shifting to London she has labored for Costa Espresso, All Bar One and as a pub supervisor on the Black Lion in Kilburn in North West London.

Pictures on her Fb web page confirmed how she has visited Dubai, Egypt, Paris, Lisbon and Amsterdam, and as soon as went on a highway journey down the US West Coast.

Amongst these hitting out on the video was former Conservative minister Ann Widdecombe, who referred to as for the officer to be ‘struck off from the voluntary pressure’.

She instructed GB Information: ‘She actually has acquired the legislation utterly mistaken and she or he was clearly having fun with herself fairly an excessive amount of, attempting to boss this lady round.

‘And there’s no foundation in any respect for saying you possibly can’t sing. I might stroll down the road singing Onward Christian Troopers and I might be committing no offence in any respect.’

Chatting with Premier Christian Radio’s Inspirational Breakfast right this moment, Ms Widdecombe was requested to verify there isn’t any legislation forbidding Christian songs being sung exterior church grounds.

She mentioned: ‘No, completely not. No. If there have been, the Salvation Military would not be capable to carry out on the street. No, after all not.’

People watch and film singer Harmonie London as she performs on Oxford Street today

Individuals watch and movie singer Harmonie London as she performs on Oxford Avenue right this moment 

Ms Widdecombe continued: ‘I believe they need to take very agency motion in opposition to this particular person, not least for sticking her tongue out, which was a gesture of contempt, not skilled. And clearly, she does not actually know the legislation, definitely does not seem to know the legislation.

‘I might have thought it wasn’t crucial for the police to grasp the context. They have the video, they’ll see what she mentioned now, is what she mentioned proper or not? And if it is mistaken, then they need to take motion.’

Requested whether or not it illustrated a wider level as to what’s an acceptable pure expression of religion, Ms Widdecombe mentioned: ‘There should not be any confusion. Clearly there are limits. And for instance, should you had a bunch of Christians standing exterior a mosque intentionally singing Christian hymns, that is likely to be thought-about provocative. 

‘However merely to be singing a Christian music on the street – individuals sing songs on the street on a regular basis. They are often faith-based, they are often simply strange rock n roll – does not matter.

‘I believe the purpose actually being illustrated is a few individuals have gotten an issue on this nation with Christianity which they do not seem to have with different faiths. And I simply suppose it is time that they learnt that Christianity is a part of variety, not excluded from it.’

Norman Brennan, a former police officer and anti-crime campaigner, additionally tweeted: ‘Of us, this isn’t a great look. A few of us try laborious to assist policing get again public misplaced assist respect and confidence and this doesn’t assist.’

And Andrea Williams, chief government of the Christian Concern marketing campaign group, instructed MailOnline: ‘One in all my favorite issues as I commute to work is to listen to Harmonie’s lovely worship.

‘She blesses tens of hundreds of individuals in the identical approach and brings concord to the streets. We want extra of this, not much less. It’s surprising that she has been handled like this.’

Ms Williams added: ‘There may be nothing unlawful about Harmonie singing worship songs on Oxford Avenue. 1000’s of individuals cease to take heed to her and the message of hope she result in the excellent news of Jesus. 

‘The officer confirmed a complete lack of information of the legislation and the human proper protections set out within the Human Rights Act 1998 the place Harmonie’s freedom to specific her religion on the streets is clearly protected.’

Former Metropolitan Police detective Peter Bleksley additionally commented on the video, tweeting: ‘Lawless Britain. The lady in uniform that’s…’

And former Residence Workplace particular adviser Claire Pearsall instructed TalkTV: ‘Actually ought to the police be going round telling individuals they cannot sing, they cannot pray, they cannot suppose one thing? Why do not they go and cope with precise crime?’

Nonetheless, Ms Hadzhipetkova discovered assist from former Met Police officer Raj Kohli, who tweeted: ‘I’m not positive it deserves the pile on it deserves. She made a mistake across the legislation and was unprofessional with sticking her tongue out. However she volunteers her time to be a police officer and deserves kudos for that.’

People watch and film singer Harmonie London as she performs on Oxford Street today

Individuals watch and movie singer Harmonie London as she performs on Oxford Avenue right this moment 

Nonetheless, Mr Bleksley responded to this, tweeting: ‘Right here we go of us; lately retired senior police officer, urges us to not put up about an ignorant and impolite particular constable, as a result of she’s a volunteer. So there you will have it, clear as day, how they again one another up, even once they act like rubbish. No surprise there is not any respect.’ 

Harmonie London has turn into a well-liked Christian avenue singer lately and now has almost 300,000 followers on every of Instagram and YouTube.

A few of her movies have attracted greater than 4 million views. Her newest clip posted on Monday was entitled: ‘Unpaid Volunteer Officer Would not Like Gospel Songs.’

The caption for the clip, posted at about 6pm, mentioned: ‘Particular constables are volunteer cops who make investments their free time to make an actual distinction to our metropolis. You’ll get an incredible quantity of pleasure from giving again to the neighborhood.’

Harmonie’s clip of the confrontation has up to now attracted greater than 5,000 likes and 1,500 feedback. MailOnline has contacted Ms Hadzhipetkova for remark.

In a sequence of tweets yesterday, the Met initially mentioned at 12.14pm: ‘This was filmed in Oxford Avenue, Westminster, over the weekend. We’re working to grasp the context by which these feedback have been made. We’ll replace as quickly as we are able to.’

In a second replace at 2.32pm, the Met added: ‘We’re reviewing physique worn video of this interplay – it is greater than 40mins lengthy. On the coronary heart of it is a particular by-law associated to busking. The officer is aware of she might have dealt with this otherwise and is chatting with her supervisor.’

It additionally mentioned in an hooked up put up: ‘We’re conscious of serious social media commentary. A few of the feedback are private and hurtful. That is unacceptable.’

Westminster Metropolis Council consists of the Oxford Avenue space amongst its busking and avenue leisure regulated zones of the West Finish. 

Coverage states that there’s a ‘mild contact licensing scheme’ relevant within the space, which suggests anybody will ‘solely be capable to busk in designated pitches’.

Harmonie London often performs worship music to shoppers in London (pictured today)

Harmonie London typically performs worship music to consumers in London (pictured right this moment)

Additionally they want to use for a licence to carry out, preserve to phrases and circumstances of the designated pitches, and abide by the circumstances of their licence.

The council confirmed to MailOnline that its busking coverage pertains to authorised pitches the place performers solicit cash for his or her act and has no bearing on the content material of what individuals sing. 

Busking will not be unlawful in England and Wales however there could also be sure byelaws or guidelines imposed by particular person councils, corresponding to not making an excessive amount of noise.

Singers additionally could to instructed to keep away from blocking pavements, not displaying notices asking for cost and solely busking in sure components of a city or for a set time period.

Particular constables are volunteer officers who’ve the identical powers as common officers and work at the least 200 hours yearly, equating to 16 hours monthly.

‘Specials’ are primarily based on one of many 12 primary command items throughout the 32 London boroughs and likewise put on the identical uniform as common officers.

Their duties embody responding to 999 calls, foot and car patrols, tackling delinquent behaviour, highway security initiatives and house-to-house enquiries.

People watch and film singer Harmonie London as she performs on Oxford Street today

Individuals watch and movie singer Harmonie London as she performs on Oxford Avenue right this moment 

Additionally they current proof in courtroom, assist police occasions and participate in ‘hotspot’ operations to deal with underage consuming, prison harm and public dysfunction.

These concerned – who usually have a full or part-time job as nicely – can profit from free journey inside London and a reduction on council tax inside Higher London.

Well-known specials embody the broadcaster and mannequin Penny Lancaster, who’s married to singer Rod Stewart, and volunteers with the Metropolis of London Police.

Different officers have been criticised for heavy-handed policing of buskers lately – together with one in 2021 left coated in blood as he was held to the bottom by 5 officers following an obvious row over performing in public in Bournemouth.

Additionally in 2011, a York busker was fined £200 for allegedly breaking Covid restrictions by enjoying the piano as a result of police mentioned it was inflicting individuals to congregate. 

And in Northampton final month, it was revealed that buskers thought-about a ‘nuisance’ within the city centre can be instructed to cease enjoying below new council guidelines.

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