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Christian politician claims 'bullying and harassment' by local Liberal Democrat group over faith

by Marcus Jones

An aspiring MP says he's been the victim of bullying and harassment because of his Christian beliefs.

David Campanale, who is the prospective parliamentary candidate for the Liberal Democrats in the constituency of Sutton and Cheam, was elected to fight for the seat back in January but says an "anti-Christian faction" is now trying to oust him.

The politician previously worked as a journalist at the BBC for over 30 years and has served as a director of Christian charity Tearfund.

Mr Campanale claims several complaints were made from 'anti-Christian activists' but dismissed by the Liberal Democrat Standards Office.

His critics say he hid his Christian faith and links to political party the Christian People's Alliance despite him claiming the briefest of searches on Google would have revealed him to be a churchgoer.

Campanale says the situation has escalated to the local group now voting on whether he should be deselected from his position.

Speaking to Premier, he says his treatment by local activists is tantamount to bullying and harassment.

"I was subjected to a two hour interrogation for my Christian views. This is not acceptable," he said. "I was asked beforehand, 'Are you ready for the Spanish Inquisition?' While I was there, people were mocking me saying 'I suppose you think you're being persecuted, like Jesus was'. 

"One person said 'you're a liar, because you didn't disclose your Christian beliefs and background in your election literature'.

"Another even said, 'You've pulled the wool over our eyes, if I'd known about your Christian beliefs, I would never have agreed for you to be shortlisted as the candidate'. I mean, this is direct harassment and unacceptable."

Campanale is now considering legal action against those trying to force him out.

"I will not surrender my conscience as a Bible believing Christian, I will not surrender my conscience on matters that are protected in Parliament."

"It looks like this anti-Christian faction has driven this all the way towards removing me as the candidate because I will not surrender my conscience and so I'll have to consider taking legal action to the county court."

Campanale is concerned about the precedent his potential ousting could set for other Christians wanting to serve within the Liberal Democrat party.

"What we're seeing is cancel culture in practice," he said. "This is a lynch mob that were determined to root me out when they discovered that I go to church. If they're allowed to get away with it, we will see more evidence of mob rule rather than the rule of fairness and process."

The Liberal Democrat Christian Forum, a group made up of believers within the party, has written to the Lib Dem head office calling for an investigation into what's taken place while the politician himself has pleaded with senior leaders in the party to take action.

As it's a local matter, the party itself has no say.

A Lib Dem spokesman said: "This is a decision that rests with the Sutton and Cheam Constituency Party.  No decision has yet been taken."

Campanale remains confident there can be resolution.

"Whoever has been responsible for this, the party needs to deal with them. I'm absolutely confident that Sir Edward Davey, the leader of our party, will be very firm about this because he's promised to protect the rights of conscience of his MPs, and I absolutely take him at his word that and I expect him to intervene."

Premier understands a deselection vote took place this week but the results are yet to be revealed.

Premier has reached out to Sutton Lib Dems and is waiting for a response. 

To read a full interview with David Campanale, click here.


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