Viva Helen Percy

Helen Percy has won her legal case, gaining the right, as a former Church of Scotland minister to challenge the way she left her post on the grounds of sex discrimination.

As it happens I was at college with Helen, when she was famous in those days merely for keeping a pig and wearing the clergy tartan. 

The victory that she has won in the House of Lords today will change the relationship between clergy and churches for good. It is possible to be an office-holder and an employee. Moreover, it would seem that it is indeed the case, as some have argued before, that if you are treated as an employee (ie paid for services) then you are an employee. This case seems to establish that this is true even if what one is employed to do is religious and even if you work for a church which tries to wriggle out of employment law by claiming that it alone has jurisdiction over clerics.

A spokesperson for the C of S is claiming on the BBC website that "This judgement would not apply to other categories of ministers of religion." Having read the judgement, all 59 pages of it, I think that is plainly nonsense.

I think that Helen P has just got the House of Lords to rewrite every clergy personel guide in the UK. Moreover, employment tribunals do not only hear cases about sex discrimination. They do other forms of discrimination too.

Ho ho! 


  1. Anonymous says

    Helen Percy
    Even in the dissenting speech of Lord Hoffman, it is observed that the Sex Discrimination Act as now construed would be unlikely not to apply to ministers of relgion. As such I agree that the Church of Scotland’s statement after the judgement, to the effect it would not apply to other categories of ministers of religion, is nonsense.

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