16 November 2012
Adrian Smith - a victory for common sense
The Evangelical Alliance commends Mr Justice Briggs who today ruled that Adrian Smith had been wrongfully treated by his employer, Trafford Housing Trust. Mr Smith was demoted with his pay reduced for posting his opinion about same-sex marriage on his own Facebook page. Mr Justice Briggs recognised a disgraceful attack on an employee and his ruling should pave the way for a fundamental rethink of how we protect free expression.
Although the comments by Mr Smith were perfectly reasonable, the Trust accused him of breaking a code of conduct that protects the "feelings" of co-workers.
Dr Dave Landrum, director of advocacy for the Evangelical Alliance, said: "Thankfully, common sense has prevailed in a matter that should never have reached the courts. In the midst of a huge public debate about social media, it's clear that balancing free speech with a responsibility for truth is not easy.
"However, it's also clear that new laws will never be enough to prevent politically- motivated people or organisations from being abusive or misleading. We need a renewed sense of civility in public life, a respect for the views of others and a higher value on what is true and right. Without that we can expect more and more cases of people being wrongly victimised like Adrian Smith - a loyal employee who simply expressed a traditional Christian view in a gracious and measured way.
"Let's hope that this decision helps reverse the readiness of some to use social media for mischievous and ideological purposes. Trafford Housing Trust deserved to be defeated in this case because it too readily sought to punish an employee simply for expressing his opinion. This default secularism is discriminatory and deeply uncivil.
"We should not allow anyone in this country to undermine our hard-won freedoms of speech, expression and conscience. The public bullying of Mr Smith was disgraceful, and we hope that Trafford Housing Trust will review its policies and improve its employer ethics."
Notes to Editors
The Evangelical Alliance
We are the largest and oldest body representing the UK’s two million evangelical Christians. For more than 165 years, we have been bringing Christians together and helping them listen to, and be heard by, the government, media and society. We’re here to connect people for a shared mission, whether it’s celebrating the Bible, making a difference in our communities or lobbying the government for a better society. From Skye to Southampton, from Coleraine to Cardiff, we work across 79 denominations, 3,500 churches, 750 organisations and thousands of individual members. And we're not just uniting Christians within the UK – we are a founding member of the World Evangelical Alliance, a global network of more than 600 million evangelical Christians. For more information, go to www.eauk.org.