Friday, 12 February 2010

The Eweida Cross case

Full judgement of the Appeal Court is HERE.

'Eweida cross case could fuel divisive cultural and racial rhetoric' declares the Times in a self-fulfilling headline, and no doubt the 'Mail' will run with this one tomorrow. The BA check-in clerk banned from wearing a crucifix with her uniform is set to be portrayed as a martyr for anti-Christian discrimination. Yet the facts don't quite support this.

Firstly, she's still employed by BA and the case, undertaken by 'Liberty', was a claim for compensation for her previous experience. Secondly, since February 2007, BA has permitted staff to wear a faith or charity symbol with their uniform. Thirdly, there has never been a requirement for Christians to display the cross as part of the faith; it was purely a personal desire on Eweida's part to do so. The court's impatience with the improbable arguments advanced by Eweida's 'Liberty' counsel, Ms Karon (sic) Monaghan QC, are apparent in Sedley LJ's comments.

If a soldier, for example, wanted to modify his uniform by the addition of a religious symbol, one not prescribed by his faith, we would have little patience with him. Being a soldier, and therefore inventive, he would doubtless have found a legitimate means of achieving the same end; a finger ring with a crucifix, or even a tattoo of a crucifix on some visible part of his body. But of course a soldier, like a policeman, always displays the crucifix on his uniform anyway. Even Sikh, Moslem and Jewish soldiers and policemen.

Rather than seek compensation, Eweida may do better to lobby the Palace for the grant of 'By Appointment' status to British Airways; there on all the company's stationery would be the Royal Arms, surmounted by the Crown, surmounted by the Cross of Christ.

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