Christian Legal Centre
|Headquarters||70 Wimpole Street, London, United Kingdom|
|Andrea Minichiello Williams|
The Christian Legal Centre (CLC) is a legal organization which was set up in December 2007 to provide legal support for Christians in the United Kingdom and lobby on their behalf. They are linked to the Christian Concern campaigning organisation.
Since its inception, the CLC has provided legal support in a number of high-profile cases in the UK. Most of them have been unsuccessful. Notable examples include:
- Emily Mapfuwa, a Christian who launched a private prosecution against the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead for exhibiting a statue by Terence Koh depicting Jesus with an erection. In a BBC Essex radio interview, Michael Phillips (a solicitor working for CLC who is also a member of The Lawyers Christian Fellowship) admitted that Ms Mapfuwa had never actually visited the exhibition. In fact she lives over 250 miles (400 km) away in Brentwood, Essex. The case was eventually discontinued by the Crown Prosecution Service.
- Eunice and Owen Johns, a Christian couple who applied to become foster parents with Derby City Council. They withdrew their application after a social worker expressed concerns when they said they could not tell a child a homosexual lifestyle was acceptable. The two parties jointly agreed to take the case to the High Court, for clarification of the law, but the court sided with the city council; stating that laws protecting people from discrimination, because of their sexual orientation, "should take precedence" over the right not to be discriminated against on religious grounds.
- Hybrid embryo research: The CLC and Comment on Reproductive Ethics (CORE) were refused permission to apply for a judicial review to overturn the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority's decision to allow laboratory testing of hybrid embryos. Mrs Justice Dobbs at the High Court in London ruled that the application was "totally without merit", and ordered the CLC to pay costs amounting to some £20,000.
- Gary McFarlane, a counsellor for Relate (a relationship support charity) who was sacked after raising a possible conscionable objection to assisting same-sex couples with sexual issues. The charity admitted to a charge of wrongful dismissal, conceding that he should have been served notice instead of being fired immediately for 'gross misconduct'. Further claims of unfair dismissal and discrimination on the grounds of religion were dismissed. His appeal against this ruling was dismissed by the High Court in April 2010. A subsequent appeal to the European Court of Human Rights also ended in failure.
- Graham Cogman, a police constable from Norfolk who was sacked for sending emails to colleagues in which he quoted Bible passages condemning homosexuality and forwarded details of a group that offered to "cure" homosexuals.
- Shirley Chaplin, a nurse who was supported by the CLC in an unsuccessful bid to sue the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Trust for discrimination because it had moved her to a desk job after she refused to remove a crucifix on a chain when asked to do so on health and safety grounds (hospital dress code prohibits front-line staff from wearing any type of necklace in case patients try to grab them). The hospital had offered Chaplin a compromise of wearing her cross pinned inside a lapel or pocket. An employment tribunal ruled they acted reasonably in April 2010, rejecting Chaplin's case.
On 28 March 2010, six current and former Anglican bishops; Lord Carey of Clifton, Michael Scott-Joynt, Michael Nazir-Ali, Peter Forster, Anthony Priddis and Nicholas Reade — cited the case in an open letter to the Sunday Telegraph newspaper in which they claimed to be "deeply concerned at the apparent discrimination shown against Christians". Ms Chaplin eventually tried unsuccessfully to obtain a ruling against the UK government at the European Court of Human Rights.
|“||It would seem the Exeter Hospital would rather use its money to deny Christians their rights than using its scarce resources to treat patients. The money the trust is spending on lawyers in this case could employ Shirley Chaplin in front line nursing for many a year or two.||”|
|— CLC director Andrea Williams, 28 March 2010|
|“||Sensible and sensitive solutions were offered to Mrs Chaplin. It is regrettable that her uncompromising stance, and the involvement of parties external to the Trust determined to play out the case in the media, may have deflected her from agreeing one of these.||”|
|— Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust, 6 April 2010|
- Duke Amachree, a homelessness officer who was sacked by Wandsworth Council for subjecting a client to a "30-minute barrage" of evangelism when he was simply supposed to be offering her housing advice. The client complained to the Council, leading to an investigation. The Council complained that Amachree revealed "sensitive personal information" about the client to the media, namely an interview with The Daily Mail after the CLC had become involved. The CLC supported Mr Amachree in an unsuccessful legal claim for unfair dismissal, religious discrimination and breach of contract. An appeal is[when?] being considered.
- Victoria Wasteney, a senior occupational therapist, head of forensic therapy at the John Howard Centre, a mental health unit of the East London NHS Foundation Trust who was suspended for "harassing and bullying" a junior Muslim colleague. The Centre supported an appeal to the Employment Appeal Tribunal, where Her Honour Judge Eady QC found that Wasteney's treatment was not because of her beliefs, but because of her inappropriate behaviour and that it had nothing to do with her freedom to manifest her religious belief.
- Jeff and Sue Green, a couple who were accused of discriminating against same-sex couples by operating a ‘married couples only’ policy for their double rooms at their guesthouse in Wales. Following an anonymous complaint in 2013 that the guesthouse discriminated against gay couples, the UK Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) warned the Greens that their website could be construed as “potentially discriminatory” and as such unlawful. The Greens changed their policy to offer only single beds in all rooms and the EHRC dropped the case. Supported by the CLC, in 2014 they sought a hearing at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg because they feared that “recent UK equality legislation seems to be being used to undermine Christian faith and values”. The ECHR refused to consider their request.
- Alfie Evans case: the CLC became involved in the latter stages of this case. Their involvement was unsuccessful and was criticised by the judge.
- "Case Wins and Launch of Christian Legal Centre". The Lawyers' Christian Fellowship. 11 December 2007. Archived from the original on 25 May 2011. Retrieved 27 April 2018.
- Hill, Symon (1 March 2011). "The Christian Legal Centre should apologise". Ekklesia. Retrieved 27 April 2018.
- Pidd, Helen (3 September 2008). "Christian sues gallery over 'blasphemous' erection". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 April 2018.
- McKeegan, Dave (26 September 2008). "Jesus' penis complainer never saw the exhibit". The Freethinker. Retrieved 27 April 2018.
- "Video & Audio Media Centre: Michael Phillips on Offensive 'Jesus' Statue exhibition (BBC Radio Essex)". Christian Legal Centre. 21 September 2008. Archived from the original on 26 December 2009. Retrieved 27 April 2018.
- "'Indecent' Jesus action stopped". BBC News. 10 November 2008. Retrieved 27 April 2018.
- "Christian foster couple lose 'homosexuality views' case". BBC News. 28 February 2011. Retrieved 27 April 2018.
- Hawley, Zena (1 March 2011). "Defiant Christian foster parents vow to fight ruling by court on homosexuality". Derby Telegraph. Archived from the original on 4 March 2011. Retrieved 27 April 2018.
- "'Hybrid embryo' legal block lost". BBC News. 9 December 2008. Retrieved 27 April 2018.
- Melloy, Kilian (1 December 2009). "U.K. Sex Counselor Refuses Gays, Loses 'Discrimination' Suit Over Lost Job". EDGE Boston. Retrieved 27 April 2018.
- "Christian sex therapist Gary McFarlane loses appeal bid". BBC News. 29 April 2010. Retrieved 27 April 2018.
- "Case of Eweida and Others v. The United Kingdom". European Court of Human Rights. 27 May 2013. Retrieved 27 April 2018.
- "Officer sacked for homophobic emails". The Guardian. Press Association. 26 November 2008. Retrieved 27 April 2018.
- "Pray for Nurse Chaplin and her freedom to wear a cross". Christian Legal Centre. 28 March 2010. Archived from the original on 31 December 2010. Retrieved 27 April 2018.
- "Devon nurse loses crucifix 'ban' claim at tribunal". BBC News. 7 April 2010. Retrieved 27 April 2018.
- "The religious rights of Christians are treated with disrespect". The Daily Telegraph. 28 March 2010. Retrieved 27 April 2018.
- "Trust statement in response to Chaplin tribunal decision". Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust. 6 April 2010. Retrieved 27 April 2018.
- Bartley, Jonathan (16 December 2009). "Duke Amachree - Who is telling the truth?". Ekklesia. Retrieved 27 April 2018.
- "Christian Wandsworth Council worker loses sacking claim". BBC News. 11 August 2010. Retrieved 27 April 2018.
- "Christian NHS worker who gave religious book to Muslim colleague loses appeal over ruling". The Daily Telegraph. 7 April 2016. Retrieved 9 April 2016.
- Woods, Mark (8 April 2016). "Victoria Wasteney: Victim of a godless legal system?". Christian Today. Retrieved 10 April 2016.
- "Christian couple to take their stance on gay couples to the European Court of Human Rights". Wales on Line. Retrieved 3 May 2018.
- "Case Summaries: 2006-2015" (PDF). Christian Concern. CCFON Ltd. Retrieved 3 May 2018.
With the support of the Christian Legal Centre, the couple sought a hearing at the European Court of Human Rights. However, the Court refused to consider their application.
- "Alfie Evans case". BBC News. Retrieved 27 April 2018.