Christian non-executive NHS director and magistrate, Richard Page, who was sacked for expressing in the media that children do best when raised by a mother and a father, has died.
He was suspended from the magistracy and removed from his role at an NHS Trust, after explaining on television that he had been discriminated against for his Christian beliefs on parenting while presiding over a same-sex adoption case.
Christian Concern had supported Mr Page following his double sacking. Tim Dieppe paid tribute to him on Premier:
"He's been such a strong person and such a humble, gentle person, as we've got to know him over the last five, six years or so. And he never really sought prominence he never sought to go to the public square or become somebody that goes on the TV, and that he just went and served the community and his work and his church and fostering children as well and overseas missions and then volunteered to be a magistrate. Then it just so happened that one time, when he was acting as a magistrate, an adoption case came up and he said they'd do better with a mother and father, and then that suddenly got blown out of proportion, and became a big media case and a big legal case as well. And, that's what threw him into prominence. But you know, you can't really imagine a more faithful, loving, committed serving person than Richard Page."
Mr Page had undergone a six-year legal battle against the decisions to remove him. He had been intending to appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court, after the Court of Appeal ruling in February.
In his judgment on Mr Page's claim against NHS Improvement, Lord Justice Underhill stated that: "The extent to which it is legitimate to expect a person holding a senior role in a public body to refrain from expressing views which may upset a section of the public is a delicate question."
He recognised that Mr Page "had a particular interest in expressing publicly his views about same-sex adoption in the context of his removal as a magistrate, which was a legitimate matter of public debate' and that he expressed his views 'temperately' in the media."
However, he judged that Mr Page's views on same sex-marriage and "homosexual activity", might cause "offence."
The ruling suggested, for example, that Mr Page should have "declined to answer" Piers Morgan's questions on his beliefs during an interview on Good Morning Britain in 2016.
However, it was ruled that Mr Page's responses to Piers Morgan's questions justified his removal from his financial role in the NHS, as they might inadvertently "deter mentally ill gay people in the Trust's catchment area from engaging with its services."
Lawyers representing Mr Page had argued at the hearing in November 2020 that upholding his removal on these grounds would force Christians holding traditional views about sexual morality into silence, making it almost impossible for them to hold any kind of public office.
Richard Page first came to public attention when, in 2014 whilst serving as a magistrate, he commented in the magistrates' retiring room in a family case where a little boy was up for adoption, that he believed a child did best with a mum and a dad.
The child in question was to be placed with a same-sex couple. However, a married couple who had been the long-term fosterers of the child since birth requested, late in the process, to adopt. One of Richard's fellow magistrates reported this, and he was put under an investigatory process that culminated with a public statement issued on 30 December 2014, by the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office (JCIO) through its website.
Mr Page was married to Jane, who died a year ago, and the couple had three children.
Along with his wife, who was a counsellor by profession, the couple cared and offered pastoral support to patients with Aids in the 1980s.
They also were passionate about helping underprivileged, hard to place teenagers and took them into their home on long-term fostering placements.
In recent years Mr Page had lived with Alzheimer's.
Tim Dieppe told Premier that despite Richard Page's passing, his legal case might continue:
"It may actually have a chance to continue, because it's up to the executives, I understand in the will, as to whether it continues, because the intention while he was still alive, was to appeal it to the Supreme Court. And we'll see whether we can still do that or not."