BY Ian Dunn | December 17 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


Church dismisses idea of employment tribunal for Ayrshire priest

The Catholic Church has dismissed an attempt by an Ayrshire priest who was removed from his parish to take the Church to an employment tribunal.

Fr Patrick Lawson, who was removed from St Sophia’s parish church, in Galston, Ayrshire, in September by the Bishop John Cunningham of Galloway, has been granted legal aid to pursue the case but a spokesman for the Church said that action was not applicable to the situation.

“The Diocese of Galloway has received no intimation of an unfair dismissal claim,” a Church spokesperson said. “For such a claim to be made, there would need to be an employer/employee relationship in existence. Since the relationship between a priest and his diocese is not one of employment, reference to an Employment Tribunal would not be possible.”

If the case was taken by the Scottish courts it could have significant legal ramifications for the Church, which has always maintained priests cannot be regarded as the Church’s employees.

In 2005, the House of Lords ruled in favour of a Church of Scotland minister when the Kirk tried to argue she was employed by God. A ruling that an employment tribunal could hear a Church of England minister’s case was also made last month, but there is no precedent governing the Catholic Church.



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