Catholic Care (Diocese of Leeds) has applied for leave to appeal the latest decision against it in the long-running case sparked by the Charity Commission’s refusal to allow it to prevent gay couples from using its adoption services.
Benjamin James, the Bircham Dyson Bell partner representing the charity, told civilsociety.co.uk that he had lodged the application with the Charity Tribunal on Sunday of last week. The Charity Tribunal now has to decide whether to grant leave to appeal. If it does, the appeal will be heard in the Upper Tribunal (Tax and Chancery).
James said he had identified a number of errors in law in the Charity Tribunal judgment and so Catholic Care felt it was right to mount a fresh challenge.
If leave is granted, the Upper Tribunal hearing will be the eighth stage of the case. James said the charity’s trustees had given great consideration to the cost involved. “They are very conscious of the charity’s money and of the work they do with children, but they have spoken to donors and realised they won’t have any money to do anything with children if they let this go,” he said.
He said that if the trustees had been a given a clear answer based on law of how the Equality Act exemption can and cannot be applied, they might find it easier to accept the Charity Commission’s decision. But to date this has never been provided.
“The number of letters the charity has received opposing their position is less than ten, while they have had hundreds expressing positive support – and not just from Catholics,” James added.
He declined to say how much the case had cost so far but said it had been funded by donations, a legacy and a grant from a US foundation which supports legal actions for Catholic beliefs, with the charity making up the difference.