A Christian who claims he was sacked from his positions because of his beliefs has taken the NHS to court.
Richard Page, 71, was dismissed as a magistrate by the Lord Chancellor and Lord Chief Justice, after saying it was in a child’s best interests to be raised by a mother and a father. Then in March 2016, he was suspended from his role as a non-executive director of Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust, which said his expression of his views had undermined the confidence of staff, particularly LGBT staff.
Mr Page, who has nearly 20 years’ experience as a finance director for various NHS Trusts, is bringing a claim of discrimination, harassment and victimisation against the NHS Trust Development Authority, under the Equality Act 2010. A four-day hearing has begun at Croydon Employment Tribunal.
He had opposed an application by a same-sex couple to adopt a child, and expressed his belief that children should ideally be raised by a mother and father while working as a magistrate on a family panel in 2014. The court clerk and two other magistrates sitting with him lodged official complaints against him.
He was dismissed as a magistrate by the Lord Chancellor and Lord Chief Justice who said his comments suggested he was “biased and prejudiced against single sex adopters”, and that he was influenced by his Christian beliefs rather than by the evidence.
In 2016 he appeared on a number of TV programmes putting his views. Andrew Ling, chairman of the Kent and Medway Trust, wrote to him saying: “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.”
In August 2016 Mr Page was told that an NHS panel, convened to consider his suitability to return to his role as a non-executive director, was unanimous that “it was not in the interests of the health service for you to serve”. The panel said his actions were “likely to have had a negative impact on the confidence of staff, patients and the public in you as a local NHS leader”. He was told that the panel’s decision would disqualify him for any further appointment as a non-executive director of any NHS Trust.
As well as his case against the NHS, Mr Page is continuing his legal action against the Secretary of State for Justice, claiming that his dismissal as a magistrate was unlawful and discriminated against him on account of his Christian beliefs.
“It is quite extraordinary that I should have been dismissed not only from the Magistracy for holding this view, which I fully believe to be in the best interests of the child, but from the NHS as well,” he said.
“It seems to me that if this kind of political correctness continues, Christians will no longer be able to hold positions of public office unless they capitulate their deeply-held and once-mainstream beliefs to the new liberal orthodoxy.
“My case raises serious issues of freedom of belief and expression in the workplace. It could have major implications for how public bodies treat staff who hold religious beliefs.”
Mr Page is being supported by the Christian Legal Centre.