Friday, 20 July 2007

Hereford tribunal decision: full judgment

The full judgment of the employment tribunal in the case of John Reaney v the Hereford Diocesan Board of Finance has been placed online by the Diocese of Hereford. It’s a 1.2 MB pdf file made up from scans of a fax so it’s not of the highest quality, but it is legible.

Update an html copy of this can at present be found here. (This URL will likely be replaced in the next day or so.)

An amended html copy is now available here. (Many thanks to pluralist for scanning the original PDF.)

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 20 July 2007 at 2:22pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England | equality legislation
Comments

This is actually a win for both sides. +Hereford clearly discriminated by not applying Issues properly, but in making that ruling the Tribunal clearly demonstrates that ANY Synod motion or House of Bishops statement on doctrine is a valid exemption under section 7(3) of the 2003 Employment Equality Regulations. My analysis here - http://www.peter-ould.net/2007/07/20/hereford-judgement-online/

Posted by: Peter O on Friday, 20 July 2007 at 3:46pm BST

This is not about "sides". This is about a human being who was grievously wronged by the Bishop of Hereford, even if the Bishop of Hereford is not willing or able to show any regret or penitence for what he has done.

I gather the good Bishop has an article in the Church Times on marriage this week. After reading paragraphs 37 and 42 of the Tribunal decision, I wonder why he thinks this is a good moment for him to pontificate, literally, on this subject.

Posted by: badman on Friday, 20 July 2007 at 4:28pm BST

NO ! The house of bishops do not legislate for the C of E. Their 'statements do not have the force of Law. Thank God !

Posted by: L Roberts on Friday, 20 July 2007 at 4:47pm BST

I couldnt open the link to the judgment, either here or on the Herford website, accessed by Google.

However I did come across this (below), which begins to make me wonder if there;s something in the Hereford water !


A BALANCED APPROACH TO NEW PRIESTS!
July 02nd 2007

' The Diocese of Hereford, the Church of England locally, ordained six new priests on Sunday 1st July at a special service in Hereford Cathedral. The six will be known as deacons for the first fifteen months before a further service in September next year.....'

Boy oh boy !


Posted by: L Roberts on Friday, 20 July 2007 at 4:57pm BST

I've checked, and I can download the file. Perhaps your browser doesn't like pdf files. It can sometimes be easier to download the file to your hard disk first and then open it from there.

I think the six "new priests" in Hereford will be called deacons for the next fifteen months because that is what they are. The further service in September next year will be their ordination to the priesthood. The list of Petertide ordinations in the Church Times (6 July 2007) lists all six as new deacons.

Posted by: Peter Owen on Friday, 20 July 2007 at 5:52pm BST

L Roberts,

I think you'll find that the tribunal ruled that House of Bishops statements and documents DO legislate for the Church of England. The legal issue was not whether "Issues" was validly applied to the employment of a senior Diocesan post but rather whether in this instance it was applied correctly.

Perhaps you need to read the judgement and legal opinion on it before deciding what it did or didn't say.

Posted by: Peter O on Friday, 20 July 2007 at 7:05pm BST

Hereford's Equal Opportunities policy is clearly not worth the paper it is written upon. All that guff about not discriminating on grounds of sexual orientations is clearly nonsense. That's exactly what they did. The Church by its very nature has discrimination built into its very fabric. EO statements are worthless.
Why the obsession with 'lifestyle'? Clearly they are not interested in your house decoration, fabrics, holidays, dress sense or hobbies. What they actuall mean is what and who you do in bed. Why be so mealy mouthed about it?

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Friday, 20 July 2007 at 7:12pm BST

Peter O is wrong - the judgment made it clear that those issues were only taken into account because this post could reasonably be seen to be one of the 'handful' other than clergy where the exemption would come into play
Yet even so, they found for the claimant.
Its really a very bad result for the church, and not one they were expecting.

Posted by: Merseymike on Friday, 20 July 2007 at 7:14pm BST

MM,

Once again you miss the point. The judgement clearly states in sections 102 and 103 that Issues (and other Anglican statements / synod motions) applied in this case and would apply to all senior church lay appointments (and de facto to all clergy). The legal principle of interest here was that the tribunal ruled that ANY such Church of England statement would be a valid exemption under section 7(3) of the 2003 Act (sections 51 to 53 of the judgement).

Priddis was found guilty of discrimination in section 105 of the judegment because he misapplied "Issues". Priddis acted illegally NOT in that he questioned Reaney about his sexual behaviour prior to the interview NOR in that he asked Reaney what his likely sexual behaviour would be were he appointed (section 103 of the judgement). Priddis acted illegally in that he did not accept Reaney's statement that he would be celibate.

Have you actually read the judgement or are you just spouting opinions based on your own moral judgement and not the legal process? If you're going to criticise what I've just written then please cite the relevant sections of the judgement to show where my interpretation is incorrect. "Because I say so" ain't going to cut it.

Posted by: Peter O on Friday, 20 July 2007 at 8:41pm BST

L Roberts,

I think you'll find that the tribunal ruled that House of Bishops statements and documents DO legislate for the Church of England. The legal issue was not whether "Issues" was validly applied to the employment of a senior Diocesan post but rather whether in this instance it was applied correctly.

Perhaps you need to read the judgement and legal opinion on it before deciding what it did or didn't say.

Posted by: Peter O on Friday, 20 July 2007 at 7:05pm BST


P.Oalds

You seem to love putting people straight.

This ruling cannot confer upon HoB statememts the legality which they lack.

Posted by: L Roberts on Friday, 20 July 2007 at 10:32pm BST

think the six "new priests" in Hereford will be called deacons for the next fifteen months because that is what they are. The further service in September next year will be their ordination to the priesthood. The list of Petertide ordinations in the Church Times (6 July 2007) lists all six as new deacons.

Posted by: Peter Owen on Friday, 20 July 2007 at 5:52pm BST

Of course the Church Times lists them as having just been ordained deacon. For that is what they are. However, the Hereford Diocesan website say they have been ordained priest --as the part from the website which I quoted makes clear. If only they'd put it as clearly as Peter Owen !

I wonder if they are, one way and another, accident prone.

Thanks for the help with trying to open the file.

Posted by: L Roberts on Friday, 20 July 2007 at 10:38pm BST

No, Peter, we knew that clergy were not covered in any case, and all this judgment does is confirm that only a very few other posts are covered, and even those can still have the law applied to them. Thats why the Church lost the case.
Its you who has only chosen to read the parts of the judgment which you choose to. See what it says about both direct and indirect discrimination.
Anyway, the Church will have to watch their step because this is just the sort of publicity they do not need. I wouldn't imagine there would be many similar cases because gay people have more sense than to join such an organisation - well, other than the self-oppressed ones, poor dears.

Posted by: Merseymike on Saturday, 21 July 2007 at 12:39am BST

....perhaps you could also look at 107 which states clearly that lay people should not be expected to be celibate!
I think, Peter, the fact that you are the sole optimistic voice speaks volumes. And you are the only person whose convoluted thinking extends to seeing this as another way of trying to deal with civil partnerships even though the relevant legislation has nothing to do with employment law.
The reason the Church doesn't want to do anything about civil partnerships is simple. Their stance has, constantly, stated that civil partnerships are not gay marriage. To issue a ban on civil partnerships would be not only to admit that they got it wrong, but also that gay civil marriage exists!

Posted by: Merseymike on Saturday, 21 July 2007 at 12:47am BST

"It's official: love comes first"

So begins a Church Times piece by Anthony Priddis. Not a commentary on this weeks's big news - which was too late for the print-run - but on parents who are too busy earning a living to devote time to each other or to their children, and on the importance of marriage. I could agree with most of what the bishop said.

Plenty in the Judgement to read, mark and inwardly digest.

It is noteworthy that "religion" is defined as "The Church of England" and not "Anglicanism".

"Issues" - which quaintly refers to "homophiles" and coins the word "heterophile" - was used in the selection process *because* there was a gay candidate. Lambeth 1998 1:10, which replaced the softer "chastity" with "abstinence", is only mentioned once and not examined in detail - some won't like this demotion of their sacred cow.

Clearly, dioceses which claim to adhere to Equal Opportunities standards must do so in practice. Most importantly, the Church does itself no favours by denying highly talented employees the right to enter loving, faithful relationships.

Love really should come first.

Posted by: Hugh of Lincoln on Saturday, 21 July 2007 at 3:26am BST

This was an interesting case, one that (nearly!) all concerned say should never have happened.

Apart from the tenor of the interview between the bishop and Mr Reaney the “facts” of what had happened to him were not in dispute. The proceedings began with the bishop reading his statement into evidence and it was immediately clear how the claimant was almost certain to succeed.

Our canon lawyer was in court and made notes for the claimant’s legal team on all the salient “claims” made by bishop Priddis for authority etc., some of which Peter Ould mentions above, but despite this the claimant’s team were not going to be distracted from an obvious winning position given them by the bishop himself.

We were comforted by the fact that no precedent would be decided here and that Mr Reaney would clearly win his suit.

I think it rather silly to make any wider claims for this judgment, this type of tribunal is not going to give any help to the Church of England in the situation described by the bishop of London here: “The Church of England has not always been clear about the relative weight and authority of the documents it produces and the contexts in which they should be construed.” http://www.thinkinganglicans.org.uk/archives/001950.html

When the Judicial review of these employment regulations was completed it was clear that the number of jobs excluded was going to be very small. http://www.hmcourts-service.gov.uk/judgmentsfiles/j2478/amicus-v-ssti.htm The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Cardiff (and others) misread the judgment completely and launched an all out attack on gay teachers the following year http://icwales.icnetwork.co.uk/0100news/0200wales/tm_objectid=15386326&method=full&siteid=50082&headline=outrage-at-archbishop-s-views-on-gay-teachers-name_page.html only later to realise this was illegal.

Just how small this list will be, remains just as confused. Religious organisations will have to argue in each case! If some of these are appealed then, and only then will we begin to have some case law and precedents on which to build a clear set of guidelines.

Notwithstanding all this – the real message from the court over those days was the sad loss of a great candidate for the job – it struck everyone there. There were no winners – all of us lost.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Saturday, 21 July 2007 at 10:24am BST

Martin cites a letter from Richard Chartres who says, " “Issues in Human Sexuality” set up one moral standard for the laity and another for the clergy. This is clearly an incoherent position which is demeaning to the laity".

Paradoxically, the Tribunal made an entirely coherent position out of an incoherent one, which was quite the opposite of being "demeaning to the laity"!

And the Archbishop Council's submission which became Regulation 7(3)fell on the two limbs in(b).

So far from the assertion made by the Bishop of Carlisle in his letter to the Church Times this week (concerning the interpretation of natural disasters) that "the Government has taken to itself the right to insist on its own version of morality. It has supported a choice of lifestyles, both heterosexual and homosexual...Over specific issues, Christians who cannot agree with the Government's stance are required to do so by law", the Church lost on the application of its own policies as much as it did on the application of the Regulations.

The Tribunal merely enforced what was the Church's stated policy.

The Church will need to define precisely what it means by "behaviour" as clearly, in the words of Issues in respect of the Clergy: "it is a grossly unfair assumption to regard two people of the same sex who choose to make their home together as being some form of erotic relationship" and "it has always been the practice of the Church of England to trust its members and not carry out intrusive interrogations in order to make sure they are behaving themselves".

We also need to be clear about what are the "strongly held religious convictions" in 7(3)(b)(ii), and "significant number". A "religion's followers" are the laity as much as the clergy, so what tests are used to determine their "convictions"?

Posted by: Hugh of Lincoln on Saturday, 21 July 2007 at 6:11pm BST

"And the Archbishop Council's submission which became Regulation 7(3)fell on the two limbs in(b)."

Correction: The Respondents' case fell on 7(3)(c)(i)&(ii), on whether Reaney complied with Issues. As Martin seems to say, if the Respondents would so easily fail on (c), there was no need to dwell on (b) - doctrine and religious conviction - which was harder to unpack.

Although the (lower) Tribunal does not set legal precedents, the Church will be forced to examine the wider implications whether an appeal is forthcoming or not: the regulation of Equal Opportunities policies, corporate governance and systems and controls to prevent any future claims.

Unlike government or profit-making organisations, the Church is dependent on voluntary donations. Who foots the bill for successful claims like these? The laity, it seems. You cannot squander cash without awkward questions being asked.

Posted by: Hugh of Lincoln on Sunday, 22 July 2007 at 12:25am BST

Hugh asked
"Who foots the bill for successful claims like these?"

Perhaps NP and his megachuch mates could organise a whip-round, since they seem to approve of +Hereford's antics?

Posted by: mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) on Monday, 23 July 2007 at 4:54pm BST

mynster - quite happy to help the good bishop!

Since you raise the issue, who is paying for all the TEC law suits???

(Answer: dead people who gave money to the church and never imagined TEC with its current heterodox leadership let alone VGR)

Posted by: NP on Tuesday, 24 July 2007 at 4:03pm BST

NP - off topic, but at the moment the legal goings on in the US see to be finding in favour of TEC. If a bishop wishes to behave illegally on 'moral' grounds, I think he does have some explaining to do to his people: however, if someone attempts theft, then not to try and prevent it is a dereliction of duty. TEC is doing the equivalent of installing burglar alarms!

Posted by: mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) on Wednesday, 25 July 2007 at 8:44am BST

Peter O wrote:

"the Tribunal clearly demonstrates that ANY Synod motion or House of Bishops statement on doctrine is a valid exemption under section 7(3) of the 2003 Employment Equality Regulations."

Err, no. The tribunal ruled that the requirement being imposed was "so as to comply with the doctrines of the religion". That was a necessary but not sufficient condition for the exemption to be valid. To be a valid exemption a whole series of tests has to be passed. See paras 100-108 in their entirety. In this particular case it failed the third limb in both respects, i.e.
- Reaney satisfied the requirement, and
- the bishop was unreasonable in his refusal to accept Reaney's assertions.

But in some other case, a tribunal might well rule that some other hypothetical General Synod resolution was not a doctrine matter.

The point is each case has to be considered on its merits.

And in the case of this policy the tribunal also said that the policy itself constituted indirect discrimination, see para 99.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 25 July 2007 at 9:51pm BST

mynster - personally, I think they faithful Anglicans who are being pursued through the courts for building they have often paid for (!) should just leave the buildings.....TEC needs to money to fund its decline and will sell the assets to Starbucks or MacDonalds in the end.....but real churches are made up of people and those people can get new buildings.....

I am sure the ABC does not want to see this sort of thing in England.....so I do not think he is going to let people push their particular agenda in the CoE (as TEC has done to the cost of the AC)

Posted by: NP on Thursday, 26 July 2007 at 9:56am BST

"real churches"

And the rest of us attend what, covens? Come on, NP, you can't say this kind of thing then turn around and claim you don't revile your fellow Christians by denying their faith. Sadly, you don't realize how much this feeds the antiChristian stereotypes that are justifiably hated by, not just the world, but other Christians. This is why other people are hostile to you at synod, NP, not because your Churches are so "successful". You can't even see how much this kind of thing goes against the Gospel and is something you (and I, since I do it too) ought to repent of. Of course, if you did, it'd be that much more difficult to maintain your anger at those who do not agree with you, much less feel oppressed by them, and you'd have to seriously examine how far your own leaders have led you from the Gospel, and that would shake the very foundations of your belief. I fight against this myself, NP. It'd be so much easier to dismiss you a bunch of self deluded hysterics for whom incoherent babbling equates with holiness, who desire, not change of life, but comformity with some fictitious 1950s morality as a sign of faith. I have done so here in anger. It's still wrong of me to do it, and in my calmer moments I am sorry for having done it.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Thursday, 26 July 2007 at 1:28pm BST

There is a real spiritual problem with outrage at 'people being pursued through the courts for buildings they have often paid for.' The theology of gift (on which an awful lot of the faith is based) is ultimately one of abandonment of 'rights' over that which one gives away. Some of my stewardship money has gone to things I'm not happy with, but nevertheless I give. "L'eglise n'est pas moi" if you get my drift.

The idea that you give something away and yet retain control over it is a bit more like the corrupted form of 'Corban' attacked in the Gospels, and translates as 'I give freely to God (as long as He uses it in the way I want Him to)' In both my non-parochial roles, as a Companion on the Way and as a Vocations Adviser I would challenge that sort of thinking were I to encounter it.

NP is therefore absolutely correct in urging dissenting Christians within Anglicanism to leave property behind - but I think for the wrong reasons. It's not shaking off the dust so much as being serious about the (rightful) powerlessness of the giver.

Posted by: mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) on Thursday, 26 July 2007 at 3:32pm BST

"It's not shaking off the dust so much as being serious about the (rightful) powerlessness of the giver."

Oh but humility is not nearly as attractive as the hissy fit! It's so much more romantic to see one'sself as shaking off the dust contaminated by the unGodly than it is to practice Christian humility.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Thursday, 26 July 2007 at 4:32pm BST
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