Dismissal of “first class employee” who became a BNP councillor violated his human rights

  • Posted

Posted 13/11/2012

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has found that the UK had breached a BNP councillor’s human rights by failing to provide him with protection from dismissal on grounds of political opinion or affiliation.

The Court acknowledged that Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights protects views which “offend, shock or disturb” as those which are inoffensive.

The Claimant, Mr Redfearn, was sacked from his employment with Serco as a minibus driver transporting disabled children (the majority of whom were Asian), following his election as a BNP councillor. Mr Redfearn was white British and was summarily dismissed by his employer citing health and safety risks.

Serco believed that his continued employment would cause anxiety and distress for Mr Redfearn’s passengers and their carers and could jeopardise its contract with Bradford Council. Mr Redfearn was unable to claim unfair dismissal as he had less than one year’s continuous service. Instead, he claimed his dismissal constituted discrimination on racial grounds as, at the time, the BNP was a “whites only” party.

The case reached the Court of Appeal who held that Mr Redfearn’s complaint was, in fact, discrimination on political grounds which fell outside the scope of anti-discrimination law.  When the House of Lords refused him leave to appeal, Mr Redfearn complained to the ECHR on the basis of his Article 10 and 11 rights.  

The ECHR held that the UK Government had failed to take “reasonable and appropriate measures” to protect employees – including those with less than one year’s service – from dismissal on grounds of political opinion or affiliation and thus held that Mr Redfearn’s human rights had been breached.

Will the primacy of EU Law, together with the activism of the ECHR lead to, arguably more “worthy”, challenges to the ambit of employment protection legislation in the UK – especially following the proposed raft of Coalition Government reform?  

Watch this space. Click here for further information about our Employment Law services.


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