More details on Michael Reid losing unfair dismissal claim

More details have now emerged about how Bishop Michael Reid lost his claim for unfair dismissal at an employment tribunal, as I reported in brief on Monday. The new details are in an article just published online by the local newspaper the Brentwood Gazette. This is also the top article at the Gazette’s online front page, and is likely to be on the front page of tomorrow’s print edition.

The main new information in the Gazette article is what the tribunal chairman said:

Tribunal chairman Michael Haynes said as he threw out the claim: “His admitted adultery was entirely contrary to the ethos of the church.

“He was the leader of the respondents, a Bishop in their church and it is not unreasonable to expect such a person, and the figurehead of the organisation, to comply with the same high standards of conduct which he proposes for others.

“He has shown throughout the correspondence, and at the various hearings before us, no repentance for what he has done, which appears to be an entire contravention of what he purports to believe in.”

The chairman continued: “Such a breach of confidence by the most senior person is a most serious matter and a reasonable employer in those circumstances would consider that dismissal was an appropriate option.”

It is heartening to see this tribunal upholding the principle, under attack from the current UK government, that an employee of a church, at least one in a senior position, can be expected to conform to the “high standards of conduct” taught by that church.

The church’s lawyer said:

“My client took no pleasure in the situation but ended up having to take part in this litigation because Michael Reid refused to comply with a more conciliatory approach to dealing with these matters.”

Reid may now be regretting his refusal, because that “more conciliatory approach” included an offer of £500,000 in settlement of their claims, according to this 2008 article in the same newspaper. Now he and his wife will not see a penny of compensation.

It also seems that they will have to leave their luxury house, which is owned by the church and next to its main building. That will be a relief to the church, which will be able to get on with its own life without having Reid watching their every move from next door. The Reids could have bought a nice new home for the £500,000 they were offered, but now they will be homeless – although I doubt if they will be penniless.

At least they have not yet received “the wages of sin” (Romans 6:23). I wonder if they will ultimately show enough repentance and humility to accept “the free gift of God … eternal life”.

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