Human rights barristers await European ruling in joined religious liberty cases

Top human rights barristers are awaiting a significant judgment on four landmark religious liberty cases this week.

Dinah Rose QC
Dinah Rose QC

Blackstone Chambers silk Dinah Rose QC, James Dingemans QC of 3 Hare Court and specialist religious liberty barrister Paul Diamond are all representing clients in joined up claims in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

The claimants in the employment cases are seeking clarity from the ECHR on how their freedom of religion is protected by the UK Government’s current stance.

The state has instructed James Eadie QC of Blackstone to argue that where an employee is put under pressure to go against their religious belief, that person’s freedom of religion is protected because they are free to resign.

Judgment is expected to come down on Tuesday and will be closely watched by both the National Secular Society and the newly reformed Lawyers Secular Society, which referred to the case last week (7 January 2012).

The first claimant, Nadia Eweida suspended without pay by British Airways for wanting to wear a cross. She instructed Tom Ellis of Aughton Ainsworth and Dingemans.

Christian marriage registrar Lilian Ladele was threatened with dismissal when she refused to conduct civil partnership ceremonies. She instructed Ormerods partner Mark Jones and Rose.

The charity Christian Legal Centre has instructed Diamond to represent Relate counsellor Gary McFarlane, who was dismissed for gross misconduct when he said his Christian beliefs made him unsuitable to provide therapy for a gay couple, and nurse Shirley Chaplin, who was told she must remove her confirmation cross.

All four were told by UK courts that they had no protection under the Equality Act.