Published: 14:33, 13 May 2019
| Updated: 16:36, 13 May 2019
A former magistrate dismissed from the bench for his views on the adoption of children by gay couples is taking an appeal against his sacking to the most senior judge in the country.
Richard Page, from Headcorn, was struck off and later relieved from the post of non-executive director of the Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust after a decision made on an adoption case in 2014.
Mr Page, a Christian, dissented from the view of his colleagues on the bench when a same sex couple applied to adopt, saying that in his view it was in a child's best interests to be raised by a mother and a father.
Two years later he was sacked from the bench for "serious misconduct" by then Justice Secretary Michael Gove and Lord Thomas, who said his comments suggested he was "biased and prejudiced against single-sex adopters."
He then subsequently also lost his position with the NHS Trust for speaking to the media about his case, after an LGBT member of the NHS complained.
He then fought to have the decision overturned and permission to take his case against the Lord Chancellor and Lord Chief Justice to the Employment Appeal Tribunal was granted in December 2018.
Judge Katherine Tucker ruled that the judiciary were "closing ranks or dealing inappropriately, and/or in a heavy handed manner with a member of the judiciary who had spoken out about their own beliefs".
Mr Page, who had been a magistrate on the Central Kent Bench covering Maidstone and Sevenoaks for 15 years, will also be separately challenging the NHS and is being represented in both cases by the Christian Legal Centre.
He said: "When you sit in a Family Court, you have a huge responsibility to ensure the overall well-being of the children who are being recommended to be placed into new families.
"To punish and seek to silence me for expressing a dissenting view is deeply worrying for our society" - Richard Page
"You weigh the reports and references before you and the evidence you hear. It is vital in such a scenario that a range of viewpoints is heard.
"That is why there are three magistrates who preside over a case, and not one dictating the decision.
“To punish and to seek to silence me for expressing a dissenting view is deeply worrying for our society. It is vital for Christians to take a stand for their freedoms, for the truth, and for the futures of our children.”
Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, added: “The case of Richard Page reveals frightening developments in our society.
"We need to understand what is happening here, as Christians are being excluded from public office because of what they believe.
“This is an important moment, shining a light on how justice is done in our country. Even the top judges in the land should not be beyond proper scrutiny, and we are glad that this case will be heard.
"It was always disproportionate to remove a kind-hearted and long-serving public servant like Richard from his position simply because he expressed his well-founded beliefs.
"We will continue standing by Richard, and others like him, for as long as it takes for the legal system, and society in general, to recognise the positive impact of Christians in our nation's life.”
More by this authorTom Pyman