Charity Tribunal dismisses Catholic adoption case

Charity Tribunal dismisses Catholic adoption case

Charity Tribunal dismisses Catholic adoption case

Finance | Gareth Jones | 2 Jun 2009

The Charity Tribunal has rejected the latest attempt by a catholic adoption charity to circumnavigate rules preventing it from discriminating against homosexual couples seeking to adopt children.

Catholic Care (Diocese of Leeds) had sought to take advantage of an exemption in the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007, which suggests that discrimination can occur if it is in pursuit of charitable objectives.

In its preliminary judgment in March, the Tribunal had ruled the exemption could only apply if the charity's activities were not made unlawful by other provisions.

But at the final hearing last month, the charity was unable to demonstrate that it could operate in such a way.

The charity is entitled to appeal, but could not be contacted at the time of going to press.

Tribunal criticises charity

In its judgment, the Tribunal appears to criticise the charity's representative Matthew Smith for only accepting on the day of the hearing that a ruling could not be made on the basis the Equality Bill 2009, which had recently had its second reading in the House of Commons, despite being told otherwise beforehand.

It says: “At the telephone directions hearing on 8 May, the Tribunal explained to Mr Smith that it could not properly have regard to draft legislation as an aid to the interpretation of existing legislation.

“However, that particular argument was finally withdrawn only at the 13 May hearing, when Mr Smith accepted it was a ‘red herring’.

“The Tribunal notes with regret that despite having the continuous benefit of legal advice, the Appellant's argument on this point was abandoned only after the Tribunal had indicated a strong view as to its lack of merit and after the Respondent had been put to the time and trouble of filing a skeleton argument in reply to it.”

At the telephone directions hearing, the tribunal also expressed “considerable doubt” over whether it could go back on its earlier ruling on the meaning of the charitable exemption.

However: “Mr Smith indicated that the Appellant wished to pursue the point as one of procedural fairness, although he did not then advance any legal argument or provide authority as to what power the Tribunal might have to reopen a matter on which it had previously ruled.”

Catholic principle

Speaking at the hearing, the charity’s chief executive Mark Wiggin had argued: “It is essentially a principle that we are arguing and wishing to defend here, a principle of a Catholic organisation.

“The funding aspects of it and other aspects are very secondary to our position here today.”


[Cancel] | Reply to:

Close »

Community Standards

The community and comments board is intended as a platform for informed and civilised debate.

We hope to encourage a broad range of views, however, there are standards that we expect commentators to uphold. We reserve the right to delete or amend any comments that do not adhere to these standards.

We welcome:

  • Robust but respectful debate
  • Strongly held opinions
  • Intelligent relevant discussion
  • The sharing of relevant experiences
  • New participants

We will not publish:

  • Rude, threatening, offensive, obscene or abusive language, or links to such material
  • Links to commercial organisations or spam postings. The comments board is not an advertising platform
  • The posting of contact details for yourself or others
  • Comments intended for malicious purpose or mindless abuse
  • Comments purporting to be from another person or organisation under false pretences
  • Gratuitous criticism, commentary or self-promotion
  • Any material which breaches copyright or privacy laws, or could be considered libellous
  • The use of the comments board for the pursuit or extension of personal disputes

Be aware:

  • Views expressed on the comments board are left at users’ discretion and are in no way views held or supported by Civil Society Media
  • Comments left by others may not be accurate, do not rely on them as fact
  • You may be misunderstood - sarcasm and humour can easily be taken out of context, try to be clear


  • Enjoy the opportunity to express your opinion and respect the right of others to express theirs
  • Confine your remarks to issues rather than personalities

Together we can keep our community a polite, respectful and intelligent platform for discussion.

Sir Stuart criticises charity leaders' 'insufficient concern' over fundraising

27 Nov 2015

Sir Stuart Etherington has restated his criticism of trustees and chief executives for their role in this...

Four UK charities to benefit from online Star Wars fundraising initiative

27 Nov 2015

Barnardo’s, Make a Wish, a Samaritans branch and the Damilola Taylor Trust are amoung 15 charities that...

Olive Cooke’s data sold or traded 43 times by charities, claims Independent

26 Nov 2015

Olive Cooke, the 92-year-old poppy seller whose suicide triggered a crisis in fundraising regulation,...

Sir Stuart criticises charity leaders' 'insufficient concern' over fundraising

27 Nov 2015

Sir Stuart Etherington has restated his criticism of trustees and chief executives for their role in this...

Citizens Advice CEO: ‘We’re fiercely protective of our brand when collaborating’

27 Nov 2015

Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, told a sector audience that the charity is careful to...

Office for Civil Society to reduce headcount but receive £80m for social impact bonds

25 Nov 2015

The Office for Civil Society will be forced to cut staff levels but will have responsibility for distributing...

Digital-first strategy at Royal British Legion encouraged more people to access its services

27 Nov 2015

The Royal British Legion has seen a sixfold growth in the number of supporters accessing its services...

Over £6m raised for BBC Children in Need appeal through text donations alone

25 Nov 2015

Mobile payment company Fonix has announced that it processed over £6.6m worth of text donations for this...

National Trust launches new website as part of £40m technology strategy

24 Nov 2015

The National Trust has launched a new website as part of a £40 million technology investment programme....

Join the discussion

 Twitter button