Northern Ireland

Controversial preacher Todd Bentley refused entry into the UK

A controversial Canadian preacher, who claims he can cure illness by kicking people in the face, has been refused entry to the UK, the Home Office has confirmed.

Todd Bentley describes himself as a "healing evangelist, revivalist, and author" and is based in the US.

He had been invited to preach at Portadown Christian Centre, County Armagh, next month.

However, local clergy had raised concerns with his unorthodox methods.

These are said to include choking people and pushing them over.

A Home Office spokesperson said: "We can confirm that Mr Bentley has been excluded from the UK."

"The government makes no apologies for refusing people access to the UK if we believe they are not conducive to the public good.

"Coming here is a privilege that we refuse to extend to those who might seek to undermine our society."

Mr Bentley responded to the ruling on his website.

"I am deeply saddened by the recent decision of the UK government regarding my entry into the country. At this point, we are thankful to God for the support from our friends in the UK who truly love Jesus and embrace the supernatural, faith and healing.

"Please continue to stand with us in prayer regarding this decision and our return to the UK."

The BBC contacted George Elliott, the pastor of Portadown Christian Centre, but he declined to comment on the matter.

The Presbyterian Church, which has no connection with the centre, has issued a statement saying: "Violent activities reported as part of Mr Bentley's faith healing technique have no part whatsoever in our understanding of a loving, caring and compassionate ministry that is sought, often by weak, frail and distressed people."