Islington Council turns to 11KBW to defend religious discrimination suit

11KBW is defending Islington Borough Council in a discrimination?claim brought by a Christian registrar who refuses to marry same-sex couples.

Ormerods partner Mark Jones has instructed James Dingemans QC of 3 Hare Court on behalf of Lillian Ladele, who brought the claim on grounds of religious discrimination.

Adrian Lynch QC of 11KBW was instructed by Islington in-house counsel Shelagh O’Brien.

Ladele has registered births, deaths and marriages at the Islington town hall for 16 years, but when the Civil Partnerships Act 2005 came into force she refused to conduct same-sex ceremonies and was disciplined for gross misconduct.

Until December 2007 registrars were legally entitled to opt out of civil partnership ceremonies. However, the introduction of the Statistics and Registration Act last year changed their employment status and registrars must now work on behalf of their town hall.

Ladele claims the council discriminated against her as it failed to exclude her from registering same-sex partnerships. Islington council had established an unofficial swap system to allow Ladele to be excused from conducting civil partnership ceremonies. However, two gay colleagues filed a complaint against her, stating that her beliefs were “homophobic”.

Ladele claims she has since been sidelined from working on Saturdays by the council, although she continues to work at the town hall registering births and deaths and performing basic administrative duties.