A school secretly reported its chaplain to the anti-terrorism Prevent programme after he delivered a sermon defending the right of pupils to question its introduction of new LGBT policies.
The Reverend Dr Bernard Randall told pupils at independent Trent College near Nottingham that they were allowed to disagree with the measures, particularly if they felt they ran contrary to Church of England principles.
Among them was a plan to ‘develop a whole school LGBT+ inclusive curriculum’.
Having decided that Dr Randall’s sermon was ‘harmful to LGBT’ students, the school flagged him to Prevent, which normally identifies those at risk of radicalisation.
Police investigated the tip-off but advised the school by email that Dr Randall, 48, posed ‘no counter terrorism risk, or risk of radicalisation’.
Derbyshire Police confirmed that the case ‘did not meet the threshold for a Prevent referral’.
But in a disturbing development, Dr Randall, a former Cambridge University chaplain and Oxford graduate, claims that the school later told him that any future sermons would be censored in advance.
He also claims that he was warned his chapel services would be monitored ‘to ensure that… requirements are met’. Dr Randall was later dismissed. He is suing for discrimination, harassment, victimisation and unfair dismissal and his case is due to be heard next month. ‘My career and life are in tatters,’ he said.
Campaigners said the case was one of the most extraordinary of its kind and raised disturbing questions about freedom of speech. Former Education Minister Sir John Hayes said, if the claims are proved, the school had ‘behaved appallingly’.
Dr Randall’s sermon, delivered in the school chapel on June 21, 2019, was prompted, he says, by concerns from pupils about an organisation called Educate & Celebrate, run by Dr Elly Barnes, which was invited to ‘embed gender, gender identity and sexual orientation into the fabric’ of the school.
In it, he said: ‘You should no more be told you have to accept LGBT ideology, than you should be told you must be in favour of Brexit, or must be Muslim.’ But he stressed the ‘need to treat each other with respect’. Several days later, he will tell the tribunal, he was called to a meeting and told the sermon was inflammatory, divisive and ‘harmful to LGBT pupils’.
Dr Randall only learned about the Prevent referral because it was mentioned in documents given to him ahead of a disciplinary hearing. ‘I had visions of being investigated by MI5, of men knocking down the front door,’ he said.
Trent College has a ‘Christian ethos’ and Dr Randall was appointed in 2015 to provide pastoral care, share the Christian faith and lead services in the school’s chapel.
But he claims he found himself increasingly sidelined as the school began implementing the Educate & Celebrate programme.
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Source: Daily Mail