Sacked chaplain takes legal action against headteacher

Rev Dr Bernard Randall(Photo: Christian Legal Centre)

A school chaplain who was fired after telling pupils they did not have to agree with LGBT ideology is taking legal action against his former headteacher. 

Rev Dr Bernard Randall, 51, was sacked for gross misconduct Trent College in 2019 and was reported to Prevent, the government's counter-terrorism programme, over a sermon he gave in the school's chapel. 

Prevent later dismissed the concerns after finding that there was "no counter terrorism risk, or risk of radicalisation" in his sermon.

His local Church of England diocese, the Diocese of Derby, later carried out its own investigation and concluded that he posed a "moderate" safeguarding risk to children. He has not been allowed to preach a sermon for the last four years. 

His latest legal action comes after he lost his unfair dismissal claim at an employment tribunal in February.

The Christian Legal Centre (CLC), which is supporting him, said the ordained Church of England chaplain was "secretly reported" to the Teaching Regulation Agency (TRA) the following month by Trent headteacher Bill Penty.

The CLC claims that Mr Penty called on TRA to launch an investigation into Dr Randall's actions and hold a misconduct hearing, and also referred Dr Randall to the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).

The TRA decided not to take forward a case against him but the DBS is yet to make a decision. If it finds against him, it could result in him being banned from working with children and as a vicar.

Dr Randall has launched legal action against Mr Penty, claiming victimisation, continued harassment, and discrimination on the grounds of his Christian beliefs.

Commenting on his legal action, he said the referral "felt vindictive and malicious". 

"I am relieved that the TRA has decided to not bring a case against me, but I am horrified that it has got this far," he said.

"Prevent and TRA referrals appear to be being weaponised to intimidate and silence anyone who dares speak against the prevailing secular orthodoxy on human sexuality and identity.

"It is deeply concerning that the school has also tried to use my freedom to speak to the media about what has happened to me to justify a referral.

"What has happened sends a message to Christian teachers, and any professional who does not celebrate and promote gender identity in schools, that not only will you be sacked, but you could be barred from the profession indefinitely if you fail to comply.

"You can no longer teach or encourage debate among children or adults that there are any viewpoints other than embracing full-on LGBT+ ideology. This is untenable in a truly free and democratic country, and every teacher, pupil and parent should be concerned about the ideology being forced onto schools, often without parents having any knowledge of it.

"I'd love to move on with my life, but now have no choice but to continue to fight for justice."

CLC chief executive Andrea Williams said: "It should be of concern to everyone when a mild-mannered vicar ends up being reported as a safeguarding risk for saying you can believe marriage is between a man and a woman. If Bernard Randall is deemed not fit to work with children by the Church of England and school authorities, then none of us are safe.

"To throw him out of the vocation he loves, report him to the local authority for safeguarding and stop him working with children, is to wreck his life. He has not been allowed to preach a sermon for over four years. There's nothing good or kind about this.

"Bernard's case shows vividly the intolerance of tolerance. We need more teachers and chaplains, like Bernard, working with children, not less."

Trent College has been contacted for comment.