Gospel singer ordered to stop busking in London by volunteer cop 'shocked' to see officer stick tongue out at her

4 February 2024, 13:10

Gospel singer stopped by police officer who 'made a mistake but tried her best'

By Will Taylor

A gospel singer who was stopped by a volunteer police officer and was told she needed permission to perform outside of church grounds has described her "shock" at seeing the constable stick her tongue out.

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Maya Hadzhipetkova, a special constable, stopped Harmonie London from performing on London's Oxford Street last weekend - sparking fury as the footage was posted online.

Harmonie, a 20-year-old gospel signer who regularly performs in central London, as well as to a 300,000-strong YouTube following, filmed Hadzhipetkova try to shut her down then stick her tongue out at the camera.

The officer intervened despite there being no laws against religious singing on the pavement - just local bylaws over busking licences and obstructing roads.

Harmonie told LBC's David Lammy: "I was shocked. You don't expect an officer to act like that, special or not.

Read more: ‘She was doing her best’: Met chief defends volunteer officer who told Christian busker ‘you can’t sing outside church’

"You don't expect to be treated that way. I was really confused, I just left.

"What she didn't understand is democratic values, respect, equality, fairness, freedom, and none were displayed to me."

She said she would understand being shut down if her signing offended people, but a massive crowd had formed to watch her and businesses were supportive.

"Everyone was just outraged," she said. "They were like, 'let her sing!'

"Busking shouldn't be confused with sharing the gospel. I'm within my human rights."

Read more: Moment volunteer cop tells Christian singer she is 'not allowed to sing church songs outside church'

The Met has apologised and launched a probe into what happened.

"We're reviewing body worn video of this interaction - it's more than 40 minutes long. At the heart of this is a specific by-law related to busking," a statement said last week.

"The officer knows she could have handled this differently and is speaking to her manager."

In the footage, Hadzhipetkova told Harmonie: "You're not allowed to sing church songs outside of church grounds, by the way."

The confrontation took place outside John Lewis on Oxford Street, where Ms London defended her right to sing the songs.

She hit back: "You are, you are, you are."

The unpaid volunteer stuck her tongue out at the singer
The unpaid volunteer stuck her tongue out at the singer. Picture: Instagram

But the officer told the gospel singer she could not sing "outside of church grounds unless you have been authorised by the church to do these kind of songs".

Harmonie told her "that's a load of rubbish, you're allowed" before the Hadzhipetkova walked away.

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The singer said: "Are you saying that you don't care about the Human Rights Act?"

The volunteer officer is accused of laughing then stuck her tongue out at the singer's camera.

The video, which is titled 'Unpaid Volunteer Officer Doesn't Like Gospel Songs', has sparked a backlash online.

Former police officer and anti-crime campaigner Norman Brennan tweeted: "Folks, this is not a good look. Some of us are trying hard to help policing get back public lost support respect and confidence and this does not help."

Hadzhipetkova lived in Bulgaria then moved to Cyprus in 2009 before moving to the UK in 2019.

She has also worked at Costa Coffee as well as in pubs and bars.

As a special constable, Hadzhipetkova has the same powers as a full-time officer but carries out the role part-time.

They have to give up at least 16 hours a month to police across London. Special constables are given free travel throughout the capital and get a discount on council tax alongside a range of other bonuses.

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