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'Justice has been done' says sacked Christian CEO after winning religious discrimination tribunal

by Donna Birrell
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The Christian Institute

An Employment Tribunal has ruled that Scotland's biggest grant-making trust unlawfully discriminated against its Chief Executive because of his Christian views on marriage.

Kenneth Ferguson was CEO at the Robertson Trust from 2011 to 2020 and is an elder at Stirling Free Church, which believes that marriage is between one man and one woman.

He was dismissed from the Trust in March last year after the Trust's chair, Shonaig Macpherson, learned that Stirling Free Church was hiring premises from the Trust. Ms Macpherson is said to have disagreed with the church's views on same-sex marriage. 

Mr Ferguson subsequently took legal action against the Trust and following the outcome he said: 

"I'm just relieved this is over. It's been a very difficult time for me and my family. I was treated by The Robertson Trust in a way I had never been treated before in my whole professional life. But I'm satisfied that justice has been done. The Tribunal has ruled that they were wrong to behave that way and I'm grateful."

"I also want to thank those who have supported me and prayed for me, especially those at The Christian Institute who have been such a blessing to me."

Speaking to Premier, Simon Calvert from the Christian Institute gave his reaction:

"We're very pleased that he's won his case. We've been supporting him throughout this ordeal and his overwhelming feeling is mainly one of relief. He's said that in his entire professional life, he'd never been treated by anyone the way he was treated by the Robertson Trust. 

"Let's not forget, this was a man who had a very successful tenure there. He oversaw huge expansion and growth in their work and was praised to the skies, by the trust and by the chair. But when this business came up about him, his church renting trust premises and the chair's hostility to his church, his views on marriage, that's when things really began to change. It came as a big shock to him.

"So, the tribunal has said that he was unfairly dismissed. And they've said that he was subjected to religious discrimination. And it's a very clear ruling in in Kenneth's favour. And I think it's a just outcome and one that should be an encouragement to Christians who hold to the Bible's views on marriage.

"Also I think, it's a warning to employers that you can't mistreat Christians for their beliefs. You may not agree with them. But these beliefs, as the court has made clear, are protected by equality law. They're protected by human rights law, and they are worthy of respect in a democratic society.

"The court has recognised that Christian beliefs on marriage and sexuality may not be popular, they may not be fashionable, but they are sincerely held, and they are protected by law." 

The Christian Institute says there will be a further hearing to determine the amount of damages which The Robertson Trust will have to pay Mr Ferguson.

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