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Christian health worker takes case to tribunal

23 January 2015


Charges: Victoria Wasteney

Charges: Victoria Wasteney

A SENIOR staff member at an east-London hospital has taken the NHS Trust to an employment tribunal this week, accusing it of discriminating against her because of her Christian faith.

Victoria Wasteney, a senior occupational therapist at East London NHS Foundation Trust, was accused of "bullying and harassing" a Muslim colleague by praying with her, and lending her a book about a Muslim woman who converted to Christianity.

Her colleague complained, and Miss Wasteney was suspended for nine months while the NHS Trust investigated the allegations. In a disciplinary hearing, it found her guilty of three charges of misconduct related to the accusations of bullying and harassment - praying with her colleague, giving her the book, and inviting her to church events.

Miss Wasteney's case is being supported by the Christian Legal Centre. Its chief executive, Andrea Minichiello Williams, said: "The NHS is increasingly dominated by a suffocating liberal agenda that chooses to bend over backwards to accommodate certain beliefs, but punishes the Christian."

Miss Wasteney had told her colleague that she was a Christian, but said that she was "very cautious, because our environment is such that these things can be misconstrued, and, with her being from a different faith background, I was mindful of being respectful of that".

In a statement released by the Christian Legal Centre, she said that she had invited the woman to church-organised events because the woman was interested in the community work being done to combat human trafficking.

Later, when the woman was due to be off work for hospital treatment, Miss Wasteney gave her a book to read during her recuperation, featuring a Muslim woman and her encounter with Christianity. When the woman came to her, upset about her health, Miss Wasteney said that she offered to pray for her, and the woman agreed.

The employment tribunal was held on Tuesday, and a written ruling is due in weeks.

In another case backed by the Christian Legal Centre, a Christian magistrate, Richard Page, was this month found guilty of serious misconduct by the Lord Chancellor, after telling colleagues in an adoption case that he believed it was better for children to be brought up by a mother and a father, rather than a gay couple.

Mr Page, who has served as a JP in Kent for 15 years, expressed the view during a closed-door consultation with colleagues in an adoption case, and said that he could not support a gay adoption.

He has now been reprimanded and barred from sitting as a magistrate until he has completed equality training.

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