A Roman Catholic taxi driver was “wrongly advised” to remove a cross from display in his cab after a teenage customer complained that it looked phallic.
But now officials at City of York Council have admitted that they got it wrong.
The driver, who did not wish to be named, had been displaying the cross on his dashboard as a sign of his faith.
Council officials asked Clair Cook, the owner of AnD taxis in York, to make sure that the cross was removed after a 15-year-old schoolboy complained that it was a “fake penis”.
Miss Cook branded the complaint as “ridiculous”, and dismissed another complaint made by the boy about her driver’s driving ability.
She said: “I am personally deeply offended and very sympathetic for the driver. Not only is an ornament of this nature a religious one, but the complaint and its implication is a very serious one.”
The driver expressed his shock, saying: “I couldn’t believe that anyone could think it wasn’t a cross.
“I have taken it off the dashboard as requested, because I do not want to lose my licence, but I do not think this has been handled properly.”
Colin Rumford, the head of Environmental Health and Trading Standards at City of York Council, has now accepted that the complaint was badly managed.
He said: “In this instance, it appears that the taxi operator was wrongly advised to remove the item and our intervention should have been confined to making them aware of the complaint.
“It would then be a matter for the taxi operator to resolve with the customer.”
Last month it emerged that a Christian threatened with the sack for displaying a small cross in his company van looked set to reach a compromise agreement with his employer.
Colin Atkinson agreed to move the palm cross from the van’s dashboard to the outside of the glove box, and his boss removed a poster of Che Guevara from his office wall.
The agreement was hailed as a victory for common sense by commentators and church leaders. His case was supported by the Christian Legal Centre.