Woman chorister loses claim against royal chapel

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A woman chorister who was turned down for a place in the all-male choir at the Queen's chapel in Windsor has lost her case alleging sex discrimination.

Dr Joan McDonough, 38, would have been the first woman to take the post of baritone lay clerk in the 644-year history of St George's Chapel. Her duties would have involved singing at the Sunday service attended by the Queen. She claimed she was rejectedwhen clerics discovered from a referee that she was not a man.

An industrial tribunal at Reading, in Berkshire, ruled yesterday that, as a religious institution founded for charitable purposes, the chapel was not bound by the Sex Discrimination Act.

Dr McDonough, a vicar's wife, of Carlinghow, near Batley, West Yorkshire, is one of the country's few female baritones and has sung with the Royal Choral Society. The post offered accommodation and an income of up to pounds 4,000 a year.

She said afterwards: "I do feel that the Church should set an example. If they are claiming to set a moral example, they should be seen to have clean hands. If they are not committed to equal opportunities and justice, what are they doing?"

Lt-Col Nigel Newman, chapter clerk of St George's, said: "When she applied, we found she did not measure up in ... experience and qualifications for the post anyway."