Bishop must pay £47,000 compensation to gay man

PinkNews logo on a pink background surrounded by illustrated line drawings of a rainbow, pride flag, unicorn and more.

An employment tribunal has ruled that the Bishop of Hereford must pay £47,345 in compensation to John Reaney, the gay man who brought a claim of discrimination claim against him.

The case was supported and funded by Stonewall.

Mr Reaney was interviewed by a panel of eight people for the post of Youth Officer in the Diocese of Hereford in summer 2006.

However, a unanimous decision to appoint him was blocked by the Bishop of Hereford after a meeting in which Mr Reaney was humiliatingly cross-examined by the Bishop about his private life.

Right Reverend Anthony Priddis, the 104th Bishop of Hereford, admitted to an employment tribunal in April that he had asked Mr Reaney a series of questions about his sex life during their meeting.

When he found out that the youth worker had recently come out of a five-year relationship, the bishop said he did not feel that: “It would not have been right for me to take an undertaking of his head that his heart could not keep,” namely that he would remain celibate, in line with church teachings.

In its judgement, delivered in July, the tribunal said:

“The respondents discriminated against the claimant on the grounds of sexual orientation. The case will now be listed for a remedy hearing.”

Discrimination in employment on grounds of sexual orientation is unlawful under the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003.

The legislation covers every stage of employment including the application and interview process.

Today it was announced that the Bishop of Hereford has been ordered to pay more than £47,000.

The tribunal also said it expects the Bishop to fulfil an undertaking that he will undergo equal opportunities training.

The compensation payout includes £33,000 for loss of future earnings and £7,000 damages specifically awarded for ‘psychiatric injury.’

The rest covers loss of wages and future pension.

The Bishop’s estimated costs in the case are a further £50,000.

Mr Reaney said: “I’m delighted that this case is finally over.

“Lesbian and gay Christians working within the Church of England are entitled to be treated with humanity.

“I’m very grateful to Stonewall for supporting this case throughout.”

Ben Summerskill, Stonewall chief executive, said:

“We’re delighted that the tribunal has sent such a robust signal both to the Bishop and other employers. The substantial level of compensation sends out a very clear message.

“Not even a Bishop is above this law. Stonewall is proud to have supported and funded John through this case although we regret that throughout the Bishop has shown almost no proper penitence.”

Just after the tribunal ruling last summer, Mr Reaney gave an exclusive inteview to where he discussed his ordeal at the hands of the Bishop.

In December Bishop Priddis issued the following statement:

“I am very sorry for all the hurt and pain my decision not to appoint the claimant has caused him.

“I was concerned at the time and still am today.

“The media attention has, in my opinion, made matters worse for myself, the claimant and the Church of England as a whole.”

“What I thought was right at the time, after much thought and prayer and discussion with others.”

“I am very sorry for the hurt and pain my decision has caused the claimant.

“It was a very difficult decision for me to make and it was not taken lightly.”

In November 2007 the supporters of Stonewall voted the Bishop of Hereford Bigot of the Year.