Christian magistrate who said children do best with a mother and father loses appeal

Richard PageYoutube

A Christian magistrate who was removed from the judiciary after saying that it was in the best interests of children to have a mother and father has lost his appeal at an employment tribunal. 

Richard Page was removed from his post as magistrate by then Lord Chancellor Michael Gove and Lord Chief Justice, Lord Thomas, in 2015 after serving in the role for 15 years.

He later also lost his position as a non-executive director of the Kent and Medway NHS Trust after reiterating the view on BBC Radio 4. 

Mr Page appealed his dismissal on the grounds of discrimination and victimisation because of his Christian faith.

In a hearing on Wednesday, the Employment Appeal Tribunal upheld previous rulings determining that Mr Page had not been removed because of his belief but because of his decision to express it. 

In regards to his removal as a magistrate, Mr Justice Choudhury sided with the Employment Tribunal's ruling that Mr Page was dismissed because he had "chosen to advertise the bias that he would apply in the exercise of his judicial functions" and had "disregarded" an instruction to seek advice before speaking to the media. 

The judge said the Employment Tribunal was right to conclude that the views expressed by Mr Page "had not amounted to a protected act". 

"Whilst judges are not precluded from speaking out on matters of controversy, if they choose to do so, they must not undermine judicial impartiality or respect for the judiciary," he said.

"In the present case, [Mr Page's] remarks were found to be likely to prejudice impartiality." 

Delivering his judgement on Mr Page's challenge against the NHS Trust, Mr Justice Choudhury said the Employment Tribunal had not erred in ruling that he had been removed "because of the manner in which [he] had expressed his beliefs (rather than because of the beliefs themselves), including the fact that he had spoken to the media without informing the Trust and had done so in the knowledge that his conduct would be likely to have an adverse effect on the Trust's ability to engage with sections of the community it serves". 

Commenting on the outcome, Mr Page said: "I am deeply disappointed that the court has ruled that saying that a child will do better with a mother and a father is proper grounds for dismissal as a magistrate and as a director of an NHS trust. I'm also disappointed that Mr Justice Choudhury believes this viewpoint can be separated from my Christian faith.

"This shows that we are now living in a deeply intolerant society which cannot stand any dissent from politically correct views – even from judges. I hope that we can appeal this decision and restore freedom of speech across the country."

Andrea Minichiello Williams, chief executive of Christian Legal Centre, which has supported Mr Page in his legal challenge, said: "This case reveals frightening developments in our society. The judgment demonstrates a total lack of understanding of what it means to be Christian and what it means to live out your faith in the public sphere.

"But even more disturbing is the suggestion that simply holding the belief is sufficient to constitute a breach of his judicial oath. If upheld, this rules out conscientious, informed Christians from holding judicial positions.

"Richard Page only wanted to do what was best for the child - the 'gold standard' for cases involving the welfare of a child. For expressing his well-founded belief that a child will do better with a mother and a father he has been unfairly dismissed and ruled out of public life.

"This ruling is a serious infringement of the freedom of Christians to express their views, showing a deep intolerance for Christians who are prepared to say what they believe in public life.

"History will look back on this judgment with dismay at the judiciary's ignorance of and intolerance towards Christian beliefs."

The Christian Legal Centre said Mr Page would be seeking to appeal Wednesday's decisions." 

Andrea Williams discusses further the ruling and its implications in the video below: