A heartless legal bid to force the Christian owners of a B&B to pay yet more compensation to a homosexual couple has been dropped following negative publicity.
The taxpayer-funded Equality Commission, which represents homosexuals Steven Preddy and Martyn Hall, says the move was an “error of judgment”.
In January a judge ordered Christians, Peter and Hazelmary Bull, to pay £3,600 in damages to Mr Preddy and Mr Hall because of the B&B’s policy of only allowing married couples to stay in double rooms.
In deciding the level of damages, the judge took into account the fact that the couple were genuinely acting upon their sincere beliefs about marriage.
Yesterday lawyers for the homosexual pair said that the Christian beliefs of Mr and Mrs Bull should be disregarded when deciding on a level of compensation.
But today, the Commission withdrew the legal action. Legal Director John Wadham said: “This morning we withdrew our cross appeal in this case.
“It was filed initially because of an error of judgment on the part of our legal team. They submitted the cross appeal in an attempt to clarify the law around how damages are calculated in cases such as this.
“This resulted in it appearing that Steve Preddy and Martyn Hall were seeking to increase the amount of damages they receive because Mr and Mrs Bull’s Christian beliefs had led them to break the law.
“This was not our intention and it was certainly not the intention of Steve and Martyn.
“I would like to confirm that public money will not be spent funding a claim for increased damages in this case.”
Hazelmary Bull said: “It is obviously a relief that we are not being pursued in the courts for more money.
“But I can’t imagine this taxpayer-funded ‘error of judgment’ happening to anyone other than Christians.”
Mr and Mrs Bull are being supported by The Christian Institute, a charity that defends the religious liberty of Christians.
The Institute’s Mike Judge said: “We are pleased that the Commission has seen sense and withdrawn their demand for a stiffer penalty against Mr and Mrs Bull. However, this u-turn has come only after negative publicity.
“Last week the Commission had to apologise for saying children may be at risk from being ‘infected’ with the moral values of Christian foster parents.
“The Commission’s approach to these equality cases has seriously damaged Christians’ confidence in the Commission, which ought to be acting as an impartial defender of everyone’s human rights. A great deal of damage has been done.”
Mr Preddy and Mr Hall said: “We brought this case to clarify the law, not to make money.
“We have always believed that the original award was a fair one, and are not seeking any further compensation.”