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Ofcom fails to censure Piers Morgan for insulting Christian magistrate

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The media watchdog Ofcom has ruled that Piers Morgan did not discriminate against Christian Legal Centre client Richard Page by accusing him of being a ‘homophobe’, during an interview on the ITV programme Good Morning Britain. 

The decision came following complaints from Christian Concern supporters about the way the Christian magistrate was spoken to by Morgan last month. 

Richard Page was removed from the bench by the Lord Chancellor last year, after 15 years of service.

After having said he could not agree that placing a child with a same-sex couple was in the child’s best interests during an adoption case, he was reprimanded. 

When he subsequently spoke about the case on national television, he was removed from the bench. 
 

'A number of complaints'

Discussing the case with Mr Page, Piers Morgan asked him if he agreed with same-sex ‘marriage’. When Mr Page answered that he did not, Morgan said:

"So, you’re a homophobe, then?"

Mr Page was called a ‘homophobe’ a total of five times throughout the interview, as well as a 'bigot' and 'anti-gay'.

70 complaints were received about the interview, prompting Ofcom to assess whether or not Mr Morgan breached the broadcasting code.

The regulator has concluded:

"We assessed a number of complaints that Piers Morgan’s tone was offensive and discriminatory towards Christians in an interview. 

"We noted that the interviewee was given several opportunities to respond. He stated he was not homophobic, and set out reasons why. Overall, the interview was balanced and we found no evidence of discrimination."

 

Richard page to appeal

Richard Page, 69, is to appeal his removal from the bench and is suing the Lord Chancellor. He is being supported by the Christian Legal Centre.

Mr Page has now also been suspended from his post as a non-executive director on an NHS Trust, for holding biblical views on marriage and family. 

Andrew Ling, Chair of the Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust (KMPT), wrote to the NHS Trust Development Authority asking them to consider suspending Mr Page. 

Mr Ling said:

"The recent publicity you have courted is likely to further undermine the confidence staff, particularly Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered (LGBT) staff, have in the leadership of the Trust".

He added: "Links between the stigma often associated with being LGBT and poor mental health are well established. It is vital that patients and local population are confident that KMPT will challenge stigma or discrimination and treat everyone fairly and impartially".
 

Similarities with Barry Trayhorn case

Piers Morgan’s interview with Richard Page echoes a similar incident concerning another Christian Legal Centre client, Barry Trayhorn. 

Mr Trayhorn was compelled to resign from his post as a prison gardener and voluntary chaplain at HMP Littlehey, after he spoke of the biblical view of homosexuality, and God’s love and forgiveness from all sin, during a prison chapel service. 

He received complaints from prisoners and subsequent harassment from staff, which led him to claim constructive dismissal at an Employment Tribunal last November. 

Barry Trayhorn lost his claim last month but is to appeal. 

Speaking about his case on BBC Three Counties radio, he was also accused of 'homophobia' by presenter Iain Lee.

Christian Legal Centre case worker Libby Powell, who was also interviewed by Mr Lee, was spoken to in a similar manner.

Iain Lee has since been removed from his post as BBC Three Counties presenter, following concerns that Mr Lee had breached ethical guidelines. 

The investigation into Mr Lee’s comments came after complaints made by Christian Concern supporters. 


Related Links:
Watch Christian magistrate Richard Page appear on ITV's Good Morning Britain to discuss his case 
Christian magistrate removed from office for belief about family

Related Coverage: 
Piers Morgan escapes censure over Christian homophobe remark

 

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