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Former magistrate appeals against ban

July 2019

Richard Page, a former magistrate who was removed from the judiciary for his beliefs about best interests of children has challenged the Lord Chief Justice and Lord Chancellor over his dismissal.

Mr Page told an employment appeal tribunal in May that his dismissal amounted to discrimination against his Christian faith. He was supported by the Christian Legal Centre.

The appeal also called into question the impartiality of the Lord Chancellor – who at the time was Conservative politician Michael Gove – who made the decision to remove Mr Page as a magistrate.

The permission to appeal was granted in December 2018 after Her Honour Judge Katherine Tucker, ruled, ‘There was, in my judgment, a compelling reason for me to do so.

‘In my judgment, some of the submissions made, appear to suggest it is part of the appellant’s case that the judiciary were ‘closing ranks’ or dealing inappropriately, and/or in a heavy-handed manner with a member of the judiciary who had spoken out about their own beliefs.

‘I considered it was in accordance with open justice any suggestion of that nature should be considered at a full appeal where full argument could take place’.

The problem started when Mr Page and two other magistrates were considering an adoption case in 2014. During a closed-door discussion, Mr Page expressed his view 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 also because a report provided to the court by social services made the claim children up for adoption do better with homosexual couples than heterosexual couples.

Concerned by this, Mr Page gave a contrary view. But he was subsequently reported and, following an investigation, disciplined by the Lord Chancellor and Lord Chief Justice.

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.

His comments however, prompted further investigation, and in March 2016 he was removed from the magistracy.

A ruling in this case was due to be handed down on 19 June, after this edition of ET went to press.