While confirming that he was arrested on Sunday, March 29 for breaking the ongoing territorial curfew, head pastor of the New Life Baptist Church, Bishop John Cline described the ordeal as a ‘misunderstanding’.
Following the short-lived experience, Bishop Cline claimed he was given permission by Minister of Health Carvin Malone.
Cline said he had initially applied for 20 passes for his church members to attend a sermon on Sunday, but that request was denied.
“I was told by the ministry that I could [only] get three,” the Bishop said.
He further claimed that the passes were not given to him because the office issuing the passes had already closed on Friday.
The clergyman said he proceeded to contact Minister Malone via telephone, and during their conversation, he was given verbal permission to attend church.
“I told him the names of the persons, I told him the time, and then he said to me, ‘OK, you can go ahead’,” the Bishop said.
Cline further claimed that Malone advised him that the relevant authorities would have been made aware. But, at approximately 11 am on Sunday, the police visited his church in Duffs Bottom on Tortola and accosted him.
He said he along with three others were at the church, but he was the only one without a physical pass. The others were government workers, and they had their passes for their respective jobs.
Live online sermon
Their presence at the church was to conduct a live sermon and to stream a pre-recorded praise and worship session to their audience via social media.
Cline said while the police did not put handcuffs on him, he was told that he was under arrest. He was then taken to the Road Town Police Station where the minister in question reportedly confirmed to the police that he had in fact given the bishop permission to be at church.
Cline was subsequently cautioned and released.
When BVI News contacted Police Information Officer Akia Thomas she said she was unable to give the name of the individual. She, however, said: “I can confirm the arrest of one male for breach of curfew. He was cautioned and warned for the offence and released.”
BVI News’ attempts to contact Malone to corroborate Bishop Cline’s claims were unsuccessful up to press time.
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