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Facebook freedom

January 2013

Facebook freedom

A Christian council worker who was demoted because he wrote something on his Facebook page opposing gay weddings has won a court case against his employers.
    Last year, Adrian Smith wrote that gay weddings in churches would be ‘an equality too far’. The post was made outside working hours and was not visible to the general public.
    However, his employer, the Trafford Housing Trust, said the comments amounted to ‘gross misconduct’ and claimed they could bring the organisation into disrepute.
    The trust demoted Mr Smith from his managerial position and cut his salary by 40 per cent, prompting Mr Smith to take the trust to court on the grounds that the disciplinary action was a breach of contract and his human rights.
    According to the Christian Institute, which financed Mr Smith’s legal defence, it emerged in evidence that the trust was worried it would lose a gay rights charter award if it failed to take action against Mr Smith.
    The High Court judge ruled that the trust had no right to demote Mr Smith over his Facebook comments and that its actions were a ‘serious’ breach of contract.
    He said, ‘Mr Smith’s Facebook comment was not disrespectful or liable to cause upset or offence, and could not be viewed as homophobic. They are widely held views frequently to be heard on radio and television, or read in the newspapers’.

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