Paul Wilson successfully defends Trent College against religious belief discrimination claims brought by its former School Chaplain.
Paul Wilson has successfully defended Trent College against all claims brought by its former School Chaplain in the Nottingham Employment Tribunal after a trial lasting 3 weeks. The Claimant, Reverend Bernard Randall, was employed as the School Chaplain at Trent College, the independent day and boarding school in Long Eaton between Derby and Nottingham.
He was dismissed in August 2019 after delivering the same 10 minute sermon twice at the School’s morning chapel service. The sermons could be understood as delivering a message that marriage could only be between a man and a woman, that sex outside that relationship was wrong, that to be transgender was wrong and that religious belief permitted discrimination. The sermons were delivered to year 7 and 8 students (ages 11 to 13) and to years 9, 10 and 12 students respectively. The Tribunal found that he had delivered the sermons in response to the School’s implementation of a programme called “Educate and Celebrate” in 2019 which was designed to ensure that the School was a welcoming environment for LGBT+ students and staff. He appealed against his dismissal and was reinstated with some management conditions in September 2019.
He alleged that his treatment during the ensuing disciplinary proceedings including a referral to Prevent and to the LADO, his dismissal and subsequent reinstatement with conditions, amounted to direct religious belief discrimination because of his religious beliefs and to interference with his Article 9 and 10 rights under the ECHR. He relied upon his beliefs that marriage could only be between a man and a woman, that sexual activity should only take place within such a marriage and that people cannot change their sex. He argued in the alternative that the treatment amounted to religious belief harassment. He also claimed that he had been victimised after not being allocated an academic timetable in 2019/2020 and 2020/2021 and following his dismissal on the grounds of redundancy in November 2020 and that he had been unfairly dismissed.
The Tribunal, following the Court of Appeal in Page v NHS Trust Development Authority  EWCA Civ 255, found, in essence, that the sermons amounted to an objectionable manifestation of his religious beliefs (i.e. he manifested his beliefs in a way to which objection could justifiably be taken) and that the School’s actions were justified by its need to safeguard the welfare of its students and to comply with the Independent Schools Standards Regulations 2014 which required the School to actively promote principles “which encourage respect for other people, paying particular regard to the protected characteristics set out in” the Equality Act 2010.
The full decision can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/employment-tribunal-decisions/mr-b-randall-v-trent-college-ltd-2600288-slash-2020
Paul was instructed by Abbi Copson and Yassar Sadiq at Irwin Mitchell, Birmingham.
Written by Guy Dunwoody