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Christian magistrate removed from office to challenge Michael Gove

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A Christian magistrate is planning to take legal action against the Lord Chancellor Michael Gove after he was removed from office over his beliefs about family life.

Richard Page, 69, has been a magistrate for 15 years and sat on the Family Panel of the Kent Central Magistrates Court, had less than a month to run as a Justice of the Peace. Yet the Lord Chancellor, Minister Michael Gove, has used this case to make a political statement.

He was removed from office by Michael Gove and the Lord Chief Justice Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, after sharing his conviction in a media interview that the best interests of a child are best placed with a married mother and a father.
 

Best for the child

The media interview took place on 12 March 2015 with BBC news reporter Caroline Wyatt. In the interview Richard Page said: "My responsibility as a magistrate, as I saw it, was to do what I considered best for the child, and my feeling was therefore that it would be better if it was a man and woman who were the adopted parents."

Previous to the BBC interview Richard had been suspended and sent for re-education training after expressing the opinion in deliberations with two other magistrates about the placing of a child, that it would be better for a child to be brought up by a mother and father rather than a same-sex couple.

A spokesman for the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office said that his comments "would have caused a reasonable person to conclude he was biased and prejudiced against single-sex adopters".
 

Marginalised

Richard is being supported by the Christian Legal Centre and its Standing Counsel, human rights barrister Paul Diamond.

Mr Diamond will argue that Richard is facing religious discrimination and is being marginalised for his Christian beliefs.
 

Ostracised 

Breaking the news to The Mail on Sunday Mr Page said: "Christianity is being marginalised. Christians are finding it very difficult to discuss their views because they fear they will be ostracised.

"Magistrates should be allowed to represent a range of views in society. You can't not bring your political and social background, your education, to the way that you think.

"My responsibility as a magistrate, as I saw it, was to do what I considered best for the child.

"My feeling was therefore that it would be better if it was a man and woman who were the adopted parents."

The Lord Chancellor Michael Gove and the Lord Chief Justice Lord Thomas decided Mr Page had been "influenced by his religious beliefs and not by the evidence. The Lord Chancellor and Lord Chief Justice considered that this amounted to serious misconduct and that Mr Page should have recused himself from the matter."


Related Links: 
Christian magistrate removed from office for belief about family  
Lord Chief Justice disciplines Christian Magistrate for belief about family
Watch Richard Page talk to BBC News, following publication of EHRC report

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