Friday, 8 February 2008

Reaney awarded £47K

Updated Friday evening see Bindmans press release below

Here is the outcome of the Hereford tribunal case as reported by icWales:

Gay Christian wins £47k pay-out

A gay Christian who won a discrimination claim against the Church of England was awarded more than £47,000 in compensation today, the organisation backing him said.

John Reaney, a 42-year-old from North Wales, took the Hereford Diocesan Board of Finance to an employment tribunal after his appointment to the role of youth worker was blocked on the grounds of his sexuality by the Bishop of Hereford, the Rt Rev Anthony Priddis.

Stonewall, the gay equality organisation which funded the claim, said the Diocese of Hereford was today ordered to pay Mr Reaney £47,345.

A spokesman for Stonewall said this included £33,000 for loss of future earnings and £7,000 damages specifically awarded for “psychiatric injury”.

Mr Reaney said: “I’m delighted that this case is finally over. Lesbian and gay Christians working within the Church of England are entitled to be treated with humanity. I’m very grateful to Stonewall for supporting this case throughout.”

Stonewall chief executive Ben Summerskill said: “We’re delighted that the tribunal has sent such a robust signal, both to the bishop and other employers.

“The substantial level of compensation sends out a very clear message. Not even a bishop is above this law.”

According to Stonewall the Bishop’s costs are estimated to be a further £50,000.

Stonewall added that the tribunal had also said it expects the Bishop to undergo equal opportunities training…

Here is the full text of the press release from the Diocese of Hereford:

Diocese of Hereford & the Employment Tribunals Service

February 08th 2008

The Employment Tribunal has issued its final judgment in the case of the diocese of Hereford and Mr. John Reaney. “We are glad we can draw a line under this unhappy situation. It has been a difficult time for all of us involved in the tribunal,” said Anni Holden, spokeswoman for the Diocese of Hereford. “It has been a long drawn out process and we are pleased that it is finally complete.”

The ‘Remedy Hearing’ of the tribunal took place in December following its decision in July 2007. The Employment Tribunal has decided that the Diocese of Hereford is to pay £47,345 to Mr John Reaney. The legal costs of the case to the Diocese are being met by an anonymous donation.

“We are now aware that when making such an appointment we must make it clear if it is a genuine occupational requirement that the post-holder should believe in and uphold the Christian belief and ideal of marriage, and that sexual relationships are confined to marriage”, added Anni Holden. “This is the crux of the matter, not sexual orientation.”

According to this report from Hereford-based

The total compensation ordered by the tribunal included £25,000 for future loss of wages, £8,000 for future pension loss, £7,000 damages for psychiatric injury, £6,000 for injury to feelings, £1,320 for counselling and £25 for costs incurred seeking work.

Other press coverage:

BBC Gay man wins £47k church payout
North Wales Daily Post Gay Christian wins £47,000 pay-out and later Church must pay out to gay Christian
The Sun Gay Christian’s £47k compo and later Rev’s £47k gay worker snub
Hereford Times Gay man wins Church payout
Daily Mail Gay Christian rejected for post by Bishop awarded almost £50,000 in damages
Daily Telegraph Bishop fined in gay discrimination case
The Times Bishop ordered to have equality training over gay discrimination
Guardian £47,000 for gay youth worker bishop rejected
Ekklesia Bishop faces equal opportunities training after discrimination award

There is a full press release from Bindmans titled Tribunal awards substantial compensation in landmark gay discrimination case against Church of England:

John Reaney wins over £50K compensation and interest
John Reaney v Hereford Diocesan Board of Finance
Cardiff Employment Tribunal

The Employment Tribunal has just awarded John Reaney over £50,000 (including interest) as compensation for unlawful discrimination against him by the Diocese and the Bishop of Hereford.

Alison Downie, of Bindman & Partners, lawyer for John Reaney said today:
“The Employment Tribunal has just ordered the Diocese of Hereford to pay substantial damages, over £50,000 including interest, to my client as compensation for the unlawful gay discrimination against him by the Bishop and Diocese of Hereford…

Update added 15 Feb: the Stonewall press release is here: Tribunal orders Bishop of Hereford to pay £47,000 to gay youth worker.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 8 February 2008 at 12:21pm GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England | equality legislation

Anni Holden is right, but could be forgiven for thinking that such things went without saying in making a Christian appointment. One could easily assume, quite innocently, that they go without saying, just as the pope does not always have to specify that he is a catholic.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Friday, 8 February 2008 at 12:33pm GMT

The Diocese still can't stop spinning, can they - actually , the judgment was about sexual orientation, and they are going to have to treads extremely carefully in future.

Posted by: Merseymike on Friday, 8 February 2008 at 1:00pm GMT

A good outcome. This will make them sit up. No doubt that the Archbishop of Canterbury will be seeking opt outs for religious communities - Sharia Law for (some) Muslims, discrimination law for (some) Christians...

Posted by: Pluralist on Friday, 8 February 2008 at 1:01pm GMT

"We are now aware that when making such an appointment we must make it clear if it is a genuine occupational requirement that the post-holder should believe in and uphold the Christian belief and ideal of marriage, and that sexual relationships are confined to marriage"

I suppose that would exclude a majority of members of the Church of England of working age; it would certainly exclude me. Sacking people because they disagree with Issues in Homosexuality or whatever the policy is this week is a great way of silencing dissent of the same-sex partnership issue. It pretty much silences every single member of the clergy, for a start. Oh, well, I suppose it means we unattached laypeople will just have to shout the louder to make up.

Posted by: Gerry Lynch on Friday, 8 February 2008 at 1:32pm GMT

Anni Holden has a reedy thin and pouty sounding voice even when heard through the reading of her words still "defensive" for the Diocese of Hereford.

There is no willingness here to admit wrong doing and Bishop Priddis ought resign if he can't be fully accountable for the outcome of HIS second-class administrative skills.

Posted by: Leonardo Ricardo on Friday, 8 February 2008 at 1:50pm GMT

"We are now aware that when making such an appointment we must make it clear if it is a genuine occupational requirement that the post-holder should believe in and uphold the Christian belief and ideal of marriage, and that sexual relationships are confined to marriage”

Oh dear. They need some good legal advice, pronto. This won't get them anywhere. Hardly anyone, including Christians, stays virgin until marriage any more. So they'll either have no candidates at all, straight or gay, or they will have to discriminate against the gay ones.

I can see another case coming on...

Posted by: badman on Friday, 8 February 2008 at 1:56pm GMT

As if to drive home the point that religious exemptions from the civil law are generally incompatible with the principles of equality and fairness in a modern democratic society, the tribunal's timing is apt.

Posted by: Hugh of Lincoln on Friday, 8 February 2008 at 1:57pm GMT

And because he has been so totally condemned for suggesting that there should be different laws for different religions, he has also damaged the case for opt-outs for Christianity!

Hurrah! Well done, Rowan....

Posted by: Merseymike on Friday, 8 February 2008 at 2:46pm GMT

One wonders what the fall out - yes, rather like nuclear fall out - might be from digging deep and juridically scrutinizing all church job applicants for adequate and verified orgasm conformities? Will an orgasm screening have to go into each and every church human resources file from now on? I bet a lot of folks are really looking forward to that, for various reasons better left unelucidated?

Is there a more detailed rule book somewhere, or do we just content ourselves with condemning orgasms in unmarried straight and gay people and give married straight folks only a complete pass?

I remember a cartoon of a couple in marriage counseling. The caption had one spouse telling the therapist: Yes, we did have simultaneous orgasms last week ... pause ... but you see we were in different cities at the time.

Posted by: drdanfee on Friday, 8 February 2008 at 3:30pm GMT

Hooray for the secular courts. But who was the annonymous donor of the £50,000 diocesan costs?

I too look forward to advertisements for employment by the Hereford diocese and elsewhere which say that the post is only open to the married, to proven virgins or those fitted with chastity devices (key holder the Bishop).

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Friday, 8 February 2008 at 6:41pm GMT

More thoughts
The comments from Ani Holden are just pathetic 'this has been a very difficult time'and 'we are glad we can draw a line under this unhappy situation' show that they obvioulsy hope the issue will go away. Well, it won't. Hereford was caught with its trousers down and this won't be forgotten. By seeking to institute discrimination in employment the church has compromised its integrity. Its whinging response to the award shows that it will not learn. Any other organisation found guilty of discrminating against applicants would be apologising and ensuring tht such a thing could not happen again. But not the church which, when it suits it, would like to see itself above the laws that apply to the rest of us.

Is there something odd about the diocese. I was in the V&A the other week and saw the great Scott screen ripped out of the cathedral and sold in 1967. And then there was the fiasco with the Mappa Mundi. What do the faithful of the diocese have to say now about the £47,000 awarded to Mr Reaney, which will come from their pockets?

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Friday, 8 February 2008 at 7:08pm GMT

Excellent outcome.

I am delighted that the tribunal has stipulated that Priddis shall undergo equal opps training -- not before time.

Annie Holden continues to sound like a broken record.

Let the cohort of bishops watch their step. They are not above the Law.

Posted by: L Roberts on Friday, 8 February 2008 at 7:52pm GMT

One can only hope, that where the "treasure" has been adjudicated to be paid, the church's *hearts* will follow, also...

Posted by: JCF on Friday, 8 February 2008 at 8:19pm GMT


Their hearts don't follow, but fears of losing more of their money treasure chests makes them more careful to avoid repeatable precedents.

The tragedy is that they do not repent of vilification or cruelty, but simply become more sophisticated in their aggression.

After all, if Christianity had fully repented and honored Jesus' promise of gentleness to the Daughter of Zion, the covenant of peace would have been honored and no one would still be carping on about Eve's mistake.

Posted by: Cheryl Va. Clough on Saturday, 9 February 2008 at 7:33am GMT

I rather like Annie Holden - she has had a nightmare trying to defend the indefensible – she is a nice girl. I regret that it appears the diocese now thinks that just by CLAIMING a GOR for an advertised post that such a General Occupational Requirement will then be recognised at law.

I’m sorry but it does seem they ALL need to re retrained!

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Saturday, 9 February 2008 at 11:19am GMT

I think the chances of them getting one for anything other than clergy in the current climate will be next to nil!

Posted by: Merseymike on Sunday, 10 February 2008 at 12:59am GMT

I think you are right MM!!

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Sunday, 10 February 2008 at 10:11am GMT

Time to improve the law to then!

Posted by: david wh on Sunday, 10 February 2008 at 10:12pm GMT

Oh, the law is fine and clearly the church must just learn to obey it, as it applies to them. But, yes, the exemptions ought to go - one law for all.

Posted by: Merseymike on Sunday, 10 February 2008 at 11:42pm GMT

Nice round figure....

New and improved I'd say. When all is said and done, get 'em right where it hurts, in the pocketbook.

Posted by: choirboyfromhell on Tuesday, 12 February 2008 at 4:23am GMT

"one law for all"

What worries me about this, Mike, is who gets to set the law? Not all that long ago, the "one law for all" said that if a man had sex with another man, he was subject to some pretty severe penalties. Not long ago, the one law for all said Jews couldn't live. In Russia, one law for all saw innumerable people lined up, and if they said "yes" to the question "Is there a God", they got their brains blown out. I see no reason to think such things couldn't return. What do you answer when enough conservatives get a voice to pass a law that would put you in jail because you are gay? Might makes right is a pretty poor foundation for social liberty.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Tuesday, 12 February 2008 at 8:44pm GMT

Exactly, Ford. One law for all is just another kind of might-is-right. Finding a workable legal system is however pretty complicated once one realises this. I stick by the two principles of (1) non-contradiction and (2) conformity to the fullest available research. Even these are not straightforward, but they are less biased/ideological than the alternatives.

In summary, it is difficult to avoid some kind of one law for all - if one eschews this principle, where does one stop? This being the case, it becomes all the more important that the existing laws should be well-founded. *Not* the laws we 'want'. Rather, the laws which we can demonstrate to be (in a more altruistic and objective sense) *right and good* for the most people.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Wednesday, 13 February 2008 at 12:31pm GMT
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