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Christian magistrate removed over views on same-sex adoption

18 March 2016

PA

Issued reprimand: the Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary, Michael Gove, leaves 10 Downing Street after a pre-Budget briefing, on Wednesday morning

Issued reprimand: the Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary, Michael Gove, leaves 10 Downing Street after a pre-Budget briefing, on Wednesday mo...

A FAMILY-COURT magistrate is taking the Lord Chancellor to an employment tribunal after he was removed from office over his views about same-sex adoption.

The magistrate, Richard Page, had already received a reprimand and diversity training in 2014, when he declined to approve an adoption by a same-sex couple, after saying that it was not in the child’s best interest.

He was removed from office after a fresh complaint following an interview he gave with the BBC’s religion correspondent, Caroline Wyatt, in March last year. Speaking about a report from the Equalities and Human Rights Commission on laws protecting freedom of religion or belief, Mr Page said: “My responsibility as a magistrate, as I saw it, was to do what I considered best for the child, and my feeling was therefore that it would be better if it was a man and woman who were the adopted parents.”

After a disciplinary panel hearing, a spokesperson for the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office confirmed that Mr Page had been “removed from the magistracy”.

In a statement, the spokesman said: “The Lord Chancellor and Lord Chief Justice found that Mr Page’s comments on national television would have caused a reasonable person to conclude that he was biased and prejudiced against single-sex adopters; they considered this to be serious misconduct which brought the magistracy into disrepute.

“They have therefore removed Mr Page from the magistracy. In 2014, the Lord Chancellor and Lord Chief Justice issued Mr Page with a reprimand after finding that during a Family Court hearing he had allowed himself to be influenced by his religious beliefs and not by the evidence.”

Supported by the Christian Legal Centre, Mr Page is now seeking to challenge this decision in an employment tribunal.

“As a magistrate, I have to act on the evidence before me and, quite simply, I believe that there is not sufficient evidence to convince me that placing a child in the care of a same-sex couple can be as holistically beneficial to a child as placing them with a mum and dad as God and nature intended,” Mr Page said.

“I am surprised that this Lord Chancellor should seemingly pander to the new political orthodoxy when what it amounts to is social experimentation on the lives of the most vulnerable children in our communities.

“To punish me and to seek to silence me for expressing a dissenting view is deeply worrying. I shall challenge this decision as it is deeply illiberal and intolerant. It is vital the family law courts always have in mind the best interests of the children.”

The chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, Andrea Minichiello Williams, said: “To remove someone like Richard from the bench is modern-day madness. He has a lifetime of public service, expertise in mental health. He is motivated by his Christian faith and a deep compassion for people.”

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