Kent

Gay adoption row magistrate appeals against dismissal

Richard Page
Image caption Richard Page was removed from the bench in 2016

A former magistrate who rejected an application from a same-sex couple to adopt a child has appealed against a decision to remove him from the bench.

Richard Page, of Headcorn, Kent, claimed he had been discriminated against at a London tribunal because of his Christian beliefs.

He was sacked from the bench in 2016 after airing his views on television.

Paul Diamond, representing Mr Page, said: "A judge cannot be removed because of political pressures."

Mr Diamond, from the Christian legal centre, told the employment tribunal appeal the case was "of constitutional importance", adding Mr Page had been victimised because he had expressed his Christian beliefs.

"Saying a child needs a mother and a father is not derogatory or deriding of people. It's simply a statement," he said.

'Undermined impartiality'

But Naomi Ling, for the respondents, the Lord Chancellor and Lord Chief Justice, said: "Mr Page went on national television. The statements he made publicly show that he would bring his personal views to bear, not just the evidence before him.

"He undermined his own impartiality, therefore he undermined the judiciary."

The hearing was told Mr Page had opposed fellow magistrates over placing a child for adoption with same-sex parents in 2014.

In 2015, he said on BBC Breakfast he believed it would be best for the child to be adopted by a man and a woman.

After his statements, the Lord Chancellor and Lord Chief Justice said he had "brought the judiciary into disrepute" and would have caused a reasonable person to conclude he was "prejudiced against single-sex adopters".

The appeal hearing was told he was sacked from the bench in 2016 and a few days later removed from his non-executive director role at an NHS trust.

He later lost employment tribunals over both dismissals.

This year, Mr Page appealed against the NHS role decision and a ruling is yet to be delivered.

The panel that heard the appeal over his magistrate role reserved its judgement.

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