Former magistrate challenges sacking after saying adopted children were best placed with a mother and father

Richard Page had been a magistrate in a Kent family court for 12 yearsChristian Concern

A former magistrate has challenged his removal from the judiciary after saying that it was best for adopted children to be placed in families headed by a mother and father.

Richard Page, of Headcorn, Kent, is accusing the Lord Chancellor and Lord Chief Justice of discrimination on the grounds of his Christian beliefs. 

His barrister, Paul Diamond, of the Christian Legal Centre, told an appeal tribunal in London this week that judges should not be removed "because of political pressures". 

"Saying a child needs a mother and a father is not derogatory or deriding of people. It's simply a statement," he said.

Mr Page was sacked from the bench in 2016 for "serious misconduct" after airing his views about placing adopted children with heterosexual couples during a TV appearance on the BBC the previous year.  

This followed disciplinary action against Mr Page by the Lord Chancellor and Lord Chief Justice after he had raised objections in 2014 with fellow magistrates in private about placing children for adoption with homosexual couples.

In an unusual intervention, the then justice secretary, Michael Gove and Lord Thomas said Mr Page was being dismissed from the judiciary because his comments about gay adoption suggested he was "biased and prejudiced against single-sex adopters".

He also lost a position as a non-executive director at an NHS trust.

Naomi Ling, representing the Lord Chancellor and Lord Chief Justice, told the tribunal this week that Mr Page's comments had "undermined the judiciary".

"Mr Page went on national television. The statements he made publicly show that he would bring his personal views to bear, not just the evidence before him," she said. 

"He undermined his own impartiality, therefore he undermined the judiciary."

The panel hearing his appeal this week decided to reserve judgement. 

Andrea Minichiello Williams, director Christian Concern and Christian Legal Centre, said the case was "fundamental" to the freedom of Christians to be able to express their faith and views on the family in the public square.

"We want to be free as British citizens to speak," she said.

Mr Page is also in the process of a separate appeal against the loss of his NHS post.  A ruling has not yet been made in that case.  He claims he was unfairly dismissed by Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust because of his views.  An employment tribunal last year upheld the 2016 decision to remove him.