Christian woman wins landmark religious discrimination case
over wearing cross at work, but ECHR rules rights of three other Christians were not violated

Nadia Eweida claimed she suffered discrimination at work because of her faith

Downing Street is under increasing pressure to re-examine the law on religious symbols at work after Strasbourg judges upheld the right of one Christian worker to wear a cross while rejecting that of another.

In what appeared to be mixed messages from the Government, No 10 insisted the “law as it stands strikes the right balance” before Communities Secretary Eric Pickles announced the European Court of Human Rights’ judgement would be examined to see if a change was needed.

In a controversial landmark case, the ECHR ruled British Airways had breached Nadia Eweida’s human rights, in particular her right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, when it banned her from wearing a crucifix before changing its uniform policy to accommodate the 60-year-old.

Ms Eweida, a Coptic Christian from Twickenham in south-west London, said she felt “vindicated” after the court decided she had been caused “considerably anxiety, frustration and distress” and ordered the Government to pay her £26,600 in damages and costs.  However, judges ruled the rights of three other Christians were not violated by their employers. They included NHS nurse Shirley Chaplin, 57, banned from wearing a cross on health and safety grounds, as well as marriage counsellor Gary McFarlane and registrar Lillian Ladele, who both said their religious values prevented them from dealing with same-sex couples.

The judgement was welcomed as a victory for “common sense” by equality experts as well as gay rights and secular groups but caused outrage amongst Christian organisations, who insisted it created a hierarchy of rights.

Welcoming the ruling in Miss Eweida’s case, Mr Cameron tweeted: “Delighted that principle of wearing religious symbols at work has been upheld - ppl shouldn’t suffer discrimination due to religious beliefs.”

But a disappointed Ms Chaplin, who was transferred to a desk job by Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Trust Hospital for failing to remove a crucifix, called on the Prime Minister to  honour the comments he made last July that an employee’s right to wear religious symbols at work was “an absolutely vital freedom”.

Mark Hammond at the Equality and Human Rights Commission said the Government should look at possibly changing the law to take the European Court judgment into account.  However, a Downing Street said: “The law as it stands is fine but we will look at the judgement to see if it needs to be changed.”

Mr McFarlane , 51, of Bristol, lost his job with Relate in Avon after saying during training he would not be able to provide sex therapy to gay couples. Ms Ladele, 51, was disciplined by Islington Council in north London when she refused to conduct same-sex civil partnerships. Ms Chaplin, Mr McFarlane and Ms Ladele are planning to appeal.

Ben Summerskill at gay rights group Stonewall, said: “Gay people are entitled to nothing less than equal treatment.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Lou Reed distorted the truth about his upbringing, and since his death in 2013, biographers and memoirists have added to the myths
musicThe truth about Lou Reed's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths
News
people
News
Ed Miliband received a warm welcome in Chester
election 2015
Life and Style
Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the Apple Watch during an Apple special even
fashionIs the Apple Watch for you? Well, it depends if you want it for the fitness tech, or for the style
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own