Hampstead vicar loses ‘marriage discrimination’ battle over sacking from St John’s, Downshire Hill

Downshire Hill, Hampstead Village

Downshire Hill, Hampstead Village - Credit: Archant

A former vicar of a Hampstead Church has lost a legal battle after claiming it was “marriage discrimination” which saw him sacked.

The Rev’d Jonathan Gould, 62, took a claim to employment tribunal alleging that his 2016 dismissal from post at St John’s, Downshire Hill, had been unfair and stemmed from the breakdown of his marriage.

The vicar, a father of four, split from his wife Beth in 2015.

Last year his claim was thrown out by an employment tribunal judge, and now a High Court judge and two other adjudicators have backed that ruling.

READ MORE: Bullying and harassment ‘rife’ at the Royal Free, and bosses told ‘more work to be done’The Rev’d Gould faced accusations of a “hypocrisy” for preaching the virtues of marriage at a time when his own marriage was in tatters and he was openly telling people about it.

Mr Justice Linden dismissed an appeal by the Rev Gould against last year’s decision, ruling: “The Employment Tribunal found, on the evidence, that the reason for dismissal was a loss of trust and confidence in him.”

He said that although the breakdown of the marriage had contributed to the loss of confidence and trust in the Rev Gould it was “part of the background or context rather than part of the reason for dismissal.”

During the complex judgment running to nearly 23,000 words Mr Justice Linden outlined allegations of “hypocrisy” which has been levelled against the vicar.

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He said a document from church bosses alleged the Rev’d Gould had “chosen to preach a series of sermons on marriage which appeared hypocritical in the light of his own very public difficulties”.

Mr Justice Linden said that he and the two other members of the appeal tribunal understood that members of the congregation could have regarded the vicar as a hypocrite.

In his ruling, he said: “We accept that there may have been some members of the congregation who thought that he was a hypocrite for this reason but it also appears from the Tribunal’s findings that the perception of hypocrisy was attributable in large part to his failure to behave towards his wife in the way that he preached spouses should behave towards each other.

He added that there were also clearly allegations of lack of integrity in using the pulpit to wage war with church bosses.

Reporting by UK Law News