Lib Dems accused of deselecting candidate for Christian faith

David Campanale(Photo: X)

The Liberal Democrat party has been reported to the equalities watchdog over accusations that Christian members are being treated unfairly. 

The complaint to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) alleges that David Campanale, a practising Anglican and former BBC journalist, was deselected by the party "based on his Christian faith", The Telegraph reports. 

Campanale is set to be replaced as the party's prospective MP candidate for Sutton and Cheam after an alleged two-year campaign by local party members and LGBT activists. They allege that he did not sufficiently disclose his Christian faith during the selection process, which he denies. They also take aim at his links with the Christian People's Alliance.

The complaint to the EHRC alleges that the Lib Dems have tolerated a "hostile environment" for people of faith and "emboldened those who believe Christians should be driven out of public life". The party is also accused of failing to investigate serious allegations of discrimination and harassment.

The Telegraph reports that one official allegedly told Campanale, "We had no idea we were selecting another Tim Farron," a reference to the former Lib Dem leader who stepped down after being pressured over his Christian beliefs. 

The EHRC is being asked to launch an investigation into the claims concerning Campanale. 

"This evidence depicts a supposedly liberal organisation allowing clear religious discrimination and hostility to thrive within its ranks," the complaint states, according to The Telegraph.

"It suggests that Mr Campanale was driven out from his democratically elected position not because of any objective failings or wrongdoing but because a vocal group within SBLD [Sutton Borough Liberal Democrats] refused to tolerate his Christian worldview."

It added: "Although Mr Campanale has submitted evidence of religious discrimination, harassment and victimisation perpetrated against him to party authorities at all levels over a two-year period, no appropriate action has been taken. We believe that only an external investigation by the EHRC can now secure justice."

A spokesperson for the Lib Dems denied the allegations, "The Liberal Democrats are home to people of all faiths and none, including many Christians.

"Three Liberal Democrat MPs in neighbouring seats to Sutton and Cheam are practising Christians, including party leader Ed Davey, and the party's candidate selection process is overseen by the Reverend Margaret Jane Joachim."