Christian Legal Centre

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Christian Legal Centre, Credit: Christian Concern screenshot

The Christian Legal Centre is an organisation which, according to its website, exists "To promote and protect the freedoms of Bible believing Christians in the United Kingdom; to promote religious freedom as a fundamental right by means of legal action and public promotion."[1]


Emily Mapfuwa

In 2008, the Christian Legal Centre supported Emily Mapfuwa, a Christian who was offended by a sculpture of Christ with an erection, in a private prosecution against the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Arts for outraging public decency.[2] In November that year, the case was taken over and discontinued by the Crown Prosecution Service, which concluded there was no case to answer.[3]

Owen and Eunice Johns

In 2008, the Centre supported Eunice and Owen Johns, who were were turned down as foster parents by Derby City Council, after they said they could not tell children it was acceptable to be homosexual. While the Centre was preparing to seek a judicial review, the council offered to allow the couple to reapply.[4]

Comment on Reproductive Ethics

In December 2008, the High Court rejected a legal challenge by the Centre and Comment On Reproductive Ethics, which sought to overturn a decision by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, to allow the creation of human-animal hybrid embryos. Mr Justice Dobbs ruled the application was "totally without merit."[5]

Shirley Chaplin

In March 2010 the CFC supported nurse Shirley Chaplin in a case in an employment tribunal case against the Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust.[6]

Chaplin received support in a letter to the Sunday Telegraph from Most Rev Lord Carey of Clifton, former Archbishop of Canterbury; Rt Rev Michael Scott-Joynt, Bishop of Winchester; Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, former Bishop of Rochester; Rt Rev Peter Forster, Bishop of Chester; Rt Rev Anthony Priddis, Bishop of Hereford; and the Rt Revd Nicholas Reade, Bishop of Blackburn.[7]

In April 2010, the tribunal ruled that the NHS Trust had acted reasonably.[8]

In a statement the Trust said it had been prepared to allow Chaplin "to wear a crucifix but not on a necklace or in any other manner which could constitute a health and safety risk whilst doing a clinical facing role in the hospital."

A number of unsubstantiated claims were made during the tribunal and we are satisfied that these have been shown to be completely without foundation. Sensible and sensitive solutions were offered to Mrs Chaplin. It is regrettable that her uncompromising stance and the involvement of parties external to the Trust determined to play out the case in the media, may have deflected her from agreeing one of these solutions.[9]

The CLC's Andrea Williams said that: "Andrea Williams, Director of the Christian Legal Centre said: “The decision shows a worrying lack of common sense. No evidence supported the Trust’s ‘health and safety’ position, yet the Tribunal considered removing Mrs Chaplin’s Cross as a proportionate response to a ‘health and safety’ risk that was never established."[10]

Gary McFarlane

In 2008, the CLC took up the case of Gary McFarlane, a counsellor who was sacked by Relate, because he refused to give advice on sexual problems to homosexual couples.[11] At an employment tribunal hearing in December that year, counsel for Relate admitted that the organisation should have given him notice to leave instead of dismissing him on the grounds of gross misconduct.[12] The tribunal upheld McFarlane's claim of wrongful dismissal, but ruled that he had not suffered religious discrimination.[13]

In December 2009, McFarlane lost a hearing at the Employment Appeals Tribunal. The Church Times reported:

The tribunal drew comparisons to the case of Lilian Ladele (News, 9 January), a civic registrar in Islington, who had asked to be exempted from officiating at civil-partnership ceremonies. The tribunal said that it was justifiable for a body such as Relate “to require its employees to adhere to the same principles which it regards as fundamental to its own ethos”, particularly when the law requires this.[14]

In a press release, the CLC interpreted the ruling to the effect that "‘Equal Opportunities’ means that Homosexual Rights Trump Christian Rights in Employment".[15]

In April 2010, the CFC announced plans to challenge court rulings which its director Andrea Minichiello Williams said had "illuminated insensitivity to the interests and needs of the Christian community and represent disturbing judgments."[16]

A CFC press release stated:

Lord Carey and others will this week support a formal application by The Christian Legal Centre acting for Gary McFarlane, a Christian relationship counsellor, that a specialist panel of five judges with a proven understanding of religious issues and headed by Lord Judge, the Lord Chief Justice, should be established to hear his case and future cases involving religious rights.[17]

The concluding section of Lord Carey's witness statement read:

This type of ‘reasoning’ is dangerous to the social order and represents clear animus to Christian beliefs. The fact that senior clerics of the Church of England and other faiths feel compelled to intervene directly in judicial decisions and cases is illuminative of a future civil unrest.
I am concerned that judges are unaware of these basic issues on the Christian faith; further it is difficult to see how it is appropriate for other religions to be considered by the Judiciary where the practices are further removed from our traditions.
It is for this reason I support the application by Mr. McFarlane for his appeal to be heard under the direction of the Lord Chief Justice and a freshly constituted five member Court of Appeal.
Further, I appeal to the Lord Chief Justice to establish a specialist Panel of Judges designated to hear cases engaging religious rights. Such Judges should have a proven sensitivity and understanding of religious issues and I would be supportive of Judges of all faiths and denominations being allocated to such a Panel. The Judges engaged in the cases listed above should recuse themselves from further adjudication on such matters as they have made clear their lack of knowledge about the Christian faith.[18]

McFarlane's application to appeal was dismissed by Lord Justice Laws in a ruling which described Lord Carey's comments as misplaced, and added:

We do not live in a society where all the people share uniform religious beliefs.
The precepts of any one religion - any belief system - cannot, by force of their religious origins, sound any louder in the general law than the precepts of any other.
If they did, those out in the cold would be less than citizens, and our constitution would be on the way to a theocracy, which is of necessity autocratic.
The law of a theocracy is dictated without option to the people, not made by their judges and governments.
The individual conscience is free to accept such dictated law, but the State, if its people are to be free, has the burdensome duty of thinking for itself.[19]

In response to the judgement, Andrea Williams suggested that in effect, it sought "to rule out Christian principles of morality from the public square."[20]

The former Bishop of Rochester Lord Nazir-Ali also criticised Lord Justice Laws ruling:

Everything from the Coronation Oath onwards suggests that there is an inextricable link between the Judaeo-Christian tradition of the Bible and the institutions, the values and the virtues of British society. If this judgment is allowed to stand, the aggressive secularists will have had their way.[21]

Nohad Halawi

In 2011, Nohad Halawi, a former employee at London's Heathrow Airport, sued her former employer for unfair dismissal, claiming that Christian staff members, including her, were discriminated against because of their religious beliefs. She told the London Telegraph 'that she was told that she would go to Hell for her religion, that Jews were responsible for the September 11th terror attacks, and that a friend was reduced to tears having been bullied for wearing a cross.' Halawi says she was treated unfairly and lost her job because of rumours that she was "anti-Islam" after she spoke out over what she described as bullying and intimidation by Muslim colleagues. She said she defended a fellow Christian employee who was mocked by Muslim workers for wearing a cross and was the victim of "unsubstantiated complaints" by Muslim workers.

Halawi's case was supported by the Christian Legal Centre (CLC), who said the case raised important legal issues, and also questions over whether Muslims and Christians are treated differently by employers. [22]

Andrea Minichiello Williams, director of the CLC, said in a statement that Halawi's case was the most serious she had pursued, and that 'it raise[d] huge issues':

'First there is the level of Islamic fundamentalism prevalent at our main point of entry to the UK. Secondly, there are very real issues of religious discrimination, which it would appear those in authority are turning a blind eye to, using the current loopholes in employment law as an excuse.' [23]

The case was rejected by an employment tribunal in 2012, and then by the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) in October 2013, ruling that, because Halawi had provided her services through a limited company she had set up, she could not sue as an employee as she did not have a contract of employment and could not be classed as a worker. The Christian Legal Centre challenged the EAT decision in the court of appeal in 2014, arguing that the EAT decision was legally flawed and that she is entitled to protection from discrimination under European law. [24]

The Court of Appeal ruled in October 2014 that Halawi had no employment protection rights. [25]


Former staff




  1. About The Christian Legal Centre, Christian Legal Centre, 23 November 2007, accessed 30 August 2010.
  2. Helen Pidd, Christian sues gallery over 'blasphemous' erection, The Guardian, 3 September 2008.
  3. CPS to intervene in private prosecution of Gateshead art exhibition, Crown Prosecution Service, 10 November 2008.
  4. James Tozer, Adoption victory as council that told foster pair to condone homosexuality is forced to climb down, MailOnline, 11 May 2008.
  5. 'Hybrid embryo' legal block lost, BBC, 9 December 2008.
  6. Nurse Chaplin and her freedom to wear a cross in Court tomorrow Mon 29 March, Christian Legal Centre, 28 March 2010, accessed via Google cache, 31 August 2010.
  7. The religious rights of Christians are treated with disrespect,, 28 March 2010.
  8. Devon nurse loses crucifix 'ban' claim at tribunal, BBC News, 7 April 2010.
  9. Trust statement in response to Chaplin tribunal decision, Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust, 6 April 2010.
  10. Christian Nurse to Fight On in 'Cross Row', Christian Legal Centre, 6 April 2010.
  11. Christian counsellor refusing to give advice on sexual problems to homosexual couples loses position with Relate, Christian Legal Centre, 27 October 2008, accessed 31 August 2010.
  12. Tony Grew, Relate welcomes tribunal ruling on Christian's claims of discrimination, Pink News, 9 January 2009.
  13. Court upholds Christian Counsellor's Claim for wrongful dismissal but law in confusion, Christian Legal Centre, 8 January 2009.
  14. Ed Beavan, Relationships counsellor loses his appeal over gay couples, Church Times, 4 December 2009.
  15. ‘Equal Opportunities’ means that Homosexual Rights Trump Christian Rights in Employment, Court rules, Christian Legal Centre, 30 November 2009, accessed 31 August 2010.
  16. Judges are biased against Christianity, say senior Church figures, Christian Legal Centre, 12 April 2010.
  17. Judges are biased against Christianity, say senior Church figures, Christian Legal Centre, 12 April 2010.
  18. Ruth Gledhill, Carey warns of 'civil unrest' over 'dangerous' anti-Christian rulings, Articles of faith, TimesOnline, 31 August 2010.
  19. Stephen Howard, Press Association, Sacked Christian counsellor Gary McFarlane's appeal bid dismissed, 29 April 2010.
  20. Justice Denied for Christians as Counsellor Refused Right to Appeal, Christian Legal Centre, 29 April 2010.
  21. Michael Nazir Ali, The legal threat to our spiritual tradition,, 30 April 2010.
  22. Soeren Kern, Britain: Islam In, Christianity Out, Gatestone Institute, December 1, 2011. Accessed 30 September 2016.
  23. Press Release: CHRISTIAN WORKER SACKED FOR STANDING UP TO ISLAMIC ABUSE AT LONDON HEATHROW’S TERMINAL 3, Christian Concern, 27 November 2011. Accessed 30 September 2016.
  24. Christian Heathrow worker takes unfair dismissal claim to court of appeal], The Guardian, 25 June 2014. Accessed 30 September 2016.
  25. Court of Appeal says Christian worker has no discrimination protection, Christian Today, October 28 2014. Accessed 30 September 2016.
  26. About The Christian Legal Centre, Christian Legal Centre, 23 November 2007, accessed 30 August 2010.
  27. About - People, Christian Concern, accessed 10 February 2015