BARCLAYS BANK has agreed to pay more than £20,000 in compensation to a Christian charity in Northern Ireland that supports conversion therapy and whose accounts it had closed.
The Core Issues Trust was set up in 2011 to provide therapy and counselling for men and women who sought to change their sexual preference, expression, or gender identity. In 2017, its chief executive, Dr Mike Davidson, who describes himself as “ex-gay”, also founded the International Federation for Therapeutic and Counselling Choice, to lobby governments to oppose bans on conversion therapy.
In July 2020, a campaign on social media drew attention to the registered charity and its activities. Later that month, Barclays is reported to have informed Dr Davidson that it would no longer provide banking facilities for the trust.
Supported by the Christian Legal Centre, Dr Davidson began a legal claim against the bank. His lawyers argued that the closure of the accounts was “an act of unlawful discrimination” on the grounds of his religious views, and that Dr Davidson’s professional and public work was undermined by the withdrawal of banking services.
His case was supported by more than 70,000 signatories to a petition calling on Barclays to reinstate the accounts. Barclays refused, arguing that it had a contractual right to close accounts with two months’ notice.
This week, however, before the case was due to be heard in the High Court, Barclays made a settlement offer of £21,500 in compensation, with legal costs to follow, which Dr Davidson accepted. The bank accounts have not been reinstated; and Barclays has not apologised or admitted liability.