Pastor Mark Gordon spoke of his delight after being cleared of a charge of obstructing police, but warns that community relations with the PSNI have been "soured" by their pursuit of a conviction against him.
The community development worker and co-pastor at Shiloh Christian Fellowship, Bangor, (pictured) was found not guilty of a charge of obstructing police, at Newtownards Magistrates Court on Friday, October 18.
He was accused of having prevented police from entering his Bangor home on February 28 as they sought his friend Jamie Bryson over his role in protests at Belfast City Council's change in Union flag policy.
Mr Bryson had been on the run from police for 24 hours when he was found at around 4.50pm on February 28, lying on a bed in an attic room in Mr Gordon's house.
Speaking to the Community Telegraph after Friday's verdict, Mr Gordon said: "First and foremost, I'm delighted with the not guilty verdict. From day one I've said I was not guilty; I was trying to ascertain why the PSNI were at my door after I had been speaking to Chief Superintendent Grimshaw at 10am on February 28 to try to help and support police and find a way forward."
He said he opted to go to court in order to prove his innocence, despite amassing a legal bill of around £1000 and being denied legal aid: "This has definitely soured relations with the police. I've worked closely with the police for 16 years and I'm now reflecting on what level of support I'll be giving them. And it's not just me, this has made other community groups and agencies question their role and current protocol when working with the police."