Sacked Christian magistrate now suspended from NHS trust over views on gay adoption

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

The Christian magistrate who was removed because of his opposition to same-sex adoption has now been suspended by the NHS trust on which he served as a non-executive director. 

Christian Concern described it as "yet another example of the way in which Christians are being forced out of public life for holding Bible-based beliefs."

Richard Page, 69, was suspended while the trust "considers whether it is in the interests of the health service" for him to remain in his post.

It comes three weeks after he was removed from his post as a magistrate which he had held for 15 years.

Andrew Ling, chair of the Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust, asked the trust development authority to suspend Page after his removal as a magistrate by the Lord Chancellor.

In view of Page's comments on BBC television about adoption, he said, if he continued on the trust this would have a big impact on staff, patients and "the perception of living the Trust values".

Ling said: "The recent publicity you have courted is likely to further undermine the confidence staff, particularly Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered staff, have in the leadership of the trust. Links between the stigma often associated with being LGBT and poor mental health are well established." He said it was vital that patients and local people were confident the trust would challenge stigma or discrimination and treat everyone fairly and impartially.

Page, from Ashford in Kent, came to public attention after he was challenged over an adoption case where he disagreed with fellow magistrates that placing a child into the care of a same-sex couple was in the child's best interest.

He was reported and reprimanded and attended re-education training.

A few months later he told BBC television that there was insufficient evidence to convince him, as a magistrate, that placing a child in the care of a same sex couple was in the child's best interests, which led to a further investigation by the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office's disciplinary panel.

The Lord Chief Justice and the Lord Chancellor removed him from office. He is currently appealing the decision and suing the Lord Chancellor with the support of the Christian Legal Centre, which has been working on the case.

Page said: "Last week, the Prime Minister distributed an Easter video in which he commended Christians, and the Church for their vital role in society, stating that we are a Christian country and should be proud of it.

"However, his Government has brought in laws which effectively silence Christians and remove them from the public square. It would appear no longer possible to be a Christian, to state what the Bible actually says and what the Church has believed for 2,000 years, and maintain a role in public life in today's Britain. My seat on the NHS trust came as a result of my long service in mental health and total commitment to the NHS – none of that has changed.

"The trust says in his letter that it is committed to 'challenge discrimination and treat everyone fairly and impartially' – all evidence to the contrary! What about treating my views, held by billions of Christians around the world, equally and fairly?

"What the Prime Minister, Government and NHS trust fail to recognise is that the reason why so many Christians make such a huge contribution to society – which they are all keen to acknowledge – is that we are all motivated to do so by our Christian faith and our love for Jesus Christ whose death and resurrection we remember this weekend.

"If the current trend continues, and Christians are systematically removed from public life, one by one, profession by profession, then who will pick up the pieces?"

He added: "What if Christians are forced to withdraw from the NHS, the law and education, where will this country be?"

Andrea Williams of the Christian Legal Centre said: "It would seem that the political elites wants to remove people that believe in Jesus and the message we celebrate today from public life."

She called on MPs to look afresh at the equality legislation.

"This Easter, it is time for MPs and the Government to wake up and see how Christians are being forced out of our nation's public life, and to act before it is too late."

A trust spokesman told Christian Today: "We can confirm that we have suspended Richard Page from Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust Board. Our decision follows Mr Page being removed from the magistracy after the public comments he made about single sex adopters.

"As an organisation that takes equality and diversity very seriously, we have considered and discussed the impact this might have on our staff and our service users. We have come to the decision that Mr Page's comments could potentially impact on the confidence of current or future patients and for that reason we have suspended Mr Page from his non-executive position."