Leeds & West Yorkshire

Electrician can keep cross in Wakefield company van

Colin Atkinson
Image caption Mr Atkinson said he was prepared to be sacked for refusing to remove the cross

A Christian electrician who feared disciplinary action for putting a palm cross in his company van has been allowed to keep the religious symbol.

Colin Atkinson, 64, who works for Wakefield and District Housing (WDH), displayed the cross on the van's dashboard.

WDH started an investigation following a complaint from a tenant.

Mr Atkinson has now been told he can keep the cross, attached vertically to the glove compartment of his van.

In a statement released by the Christian Legal Centre (CLC), Mr Atkinson, who has worked for WDH for 15 years, said: "I am delighted that my employers have recognised my right to express my Christian faith by the quiet witness of displaying a small palm cross in my van.

Company policy

"There are millions of people who wear a cross around their neck to bring the reassurance and comfort and to me, it's a constantly reminder of God's love for us and how we should love and serve others - regardless of their faith or none."

The CLC said Mr Atkinson had been told that he would not face any disciplinary action.

WDH asked Mr Atkinson to remove the 8ins (23cm) cross from his dashboard and started an investigation after a tenant complained about it.

Image caption Mr Atkinson is now allowed to keep a cross similar to this attached to the van's glove compartment

WDH said Mr Atkinson had failed to comply with company policy, which bans employees from displaying personal items in vans.

WDH, which has yet to formalise an agreement with Mr Atkinson, said: "We are pleased to announce that after prolonged negotiations with Colin, we are on the verge of reaching an amicable solution, allowing Colin to be close to his faith whilst maintaining WDH values."

Andrea Minichiello Williams, CEO of the CLC, said: "This case shows what can happen when Christians refuse to give in to threats of intimidation and, when faced with a calm rationale by Christians, many right-minded employers will see sense."

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