A Christian magistrate has today lost his appeal against the Lord Chancellor and Lord Chief Justice’s decision to remove him from the judiciary.
In the decision by Mr Justice Choudhury, the decisions of the Employment Tribunal were upheld, ruling against his claims for discrimination and victimisation because of his Christian faith.
Mr Page was removed from his post as magistrate in 2015, after 15 years of exemplary service, by then Lord Chancellor Michael Gove and Lord Chief Justice, Lord Thomas, for expressing his belief that it is in a child’s best interests to have a mother and a father.
Mr Page was later also blocked from returning to his position as a non-executive director of the Kent and Medway NHS Trust for having expressed the same view on a BBC Radio 4 documentary on Christians being squeezed out of public life. In a second judgment handed down this morning, the Employment Appeal Tribunal rejected Mr Page’s case against the NHS Trust, saying that it was not Mr Page’s belief but the fact that he expressed his belief that led to his removal.
In his ruling, Mr Justice Choudhury upheld the finding that, as a fact, LGBT people suffer disproportionately from mental illness and might be dissuaded from using the trust’s services because of the high profile coverage of Mr Page’s beliefs.
Mr Page, supported by the Christian Legal Centre, was represented by experienced religious freedom barrister Paul Diamond in both cases.
Mr Page will seek to appeal these decisions, given its important ramifications for the freedom of Christians to hold and express their beliefs in public life.
Commenting on his cases, Mr Page said:
“I am deeply disappointed that the court has ruled that saying that a child will do better with a mother and a father is proper grounds for dismissal as a magistrate and as a director of an NHS trust. I’m also disappointed that Mr Justice Choudhury believes this viewpoint can be separated from my Christian faith.
“This shows that we are now living in a deeply intolerant society which cannot stand any dissent from politically correct views – even from judges. I hope that we can appeal this decision and restore freedom of speech across the country.”
Andrea Minichiello Williams, chief executive of Christian Legal Centre commented:
“This case reveals frightening developments in our society. The judgment demonstrates a total lack of understanding of what it means to be Christian and what it means to live out your faith in the public sphere. But even more disturbing is the suggestion that simply holding the belief is sufficient to constitute a breach of his judicial oath. If upheld, this rules out conscientious, informed Christians from holding judicial positions.
“Richard Page only wanted to do what was best for the child – the ‘gold standard’ for cases involving the welfare of a child. For expressing his well-founded belief that a child will do better with a mother and a father he has been unfairly dismissed and ruled out of public life. This ruling is a serious infringement of the freedom of Christians to express their views, showing a deep intolerance for Christians who are prepared to say what they believe in public life.
“History will look back on this judgment with dismay at the judiciary’s ignorance of and intolerance towards Christian beliefs.”
Removed from the magistracy
As a magistrate of some 15 years’ experience, Mr Page was one of the three justices considering an adoption case in 2014. During a closed-door discussion with his two colleagues, Mr Page expressed his view that it was in the best interests of the child to be raised by “a mother and a father” rather than a same-sex couple. Mr Page expressed this view, not only because of his Christian faith, but because a report provided to the court by social services sweepingly claimed that children up for adoption do better with homosexual couples than heterosexual couples. The report also indicated that at least one of the applicants had been unsuccessful in a previous application for adoption.
Concerned by this and the politicisation of the case, Mr Page gave his reasoned view but was subsequently reported, and, following an investigation, disciplined by the Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice.
However, detailed analysis of some 400 research papers on the effects of same-sex parenting recently cast doubt over the politically correct orthodoxy that there is ‘no difference’ between the results of same-sex parenting and the parenting of a mother and father. Professor Walter Schumm’s Same-Sex Parenting Research, published by Wilberforce Publications, was released in September 2018 to positive reviews. In either case, social science in no way supports the claim made by social services.
Children ‘do best with a father and a mother’
In 2015, Mr Page spoke to the BBC about his experience in the context of a news report about obstacles to freedom of religion or belief in the workplace. He explained: “My responsibility as a magistrate, as I saw it, was to do what I considered best for the child, and my feeling was therefore that it would be better if it was a man and woman who were the adoptive parents.”
His comments, however, prompted further investigation, and in March 2016 he was removed from the magistracy.
NHS trust blocked return as non-executive director
Then in August 2016, he was told that an NHS panel, convened to consider his suitability to return to his role as a non-executive director of an NHS trust, was unanimous in its view that “it was not in the interests of the health service for you to serve.”
The panel believed that Mr Page’s 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.
The panel had received a single complaint about Mr Page’s views but Mr Page was made aware of almost 7,000 emails supporting him.