A belief in the BBC’s ethos of public service broadcasting is on a par with a religion, a tribunal has ruled.
Its decision elevates the BBC’s core principle to a place in the law equivalent to Christianity.
And the move leaves the way clear for BBC employee Devan Maistry to sue the Corporation for wrongful dismissal.
South African-born Mr Maistry, who worked for the BBC Asian Network, says he suffered discrimination for six years until he was dismissed last year.
He has filed a claim for ‘religious or belief discrimination’, which allegedly took place against his philosophical view that “public service broadcasting has the higher purpose of promoting cultural interchange and social cohesion”.
Birmingham employment tribunal chairman Pam Hughes decided Mr Maistry has a worthy case and gave him the right to a full hearing later this year.
The tribunal chairman said that Mr Maistry’s love of public service broadcasting amounted to a belief which should have the same protection from discrimination that the law gives to followers of religious faiths.
The case is the latest in a string of decisions to rule that everyday opinions should have the same status as religious beliefs.
Two years ago, a tribunal found that company executive Tim Nicholson, a firm believer in climate change, was wrongly dismissed after objecting to his company’s use of flights and cars.
And this year animal rights activist Joe Hashman successfully argued that he was wrongly sacked from his garden centre job after his political activities were discovered.
The BBC said it had not even been explained to the Corporation how it had allegedly discriminated against the producer’s philosophical beliefs.
At Mr Maistry’s tribunal, the BBC’s lawyer, Tariq Sadiq, said the idea that belief in public sector broadcasting was the same as a religion was ‘absurd’.
Mr Sadiq said if Mr Maistry’s claim succeeded, then belief in the aims of any public sector organisation – or even a private sector firm’s mission statement – would count as a philosophical belief.
But in her ruling, Miss Hughes said: ‘The claimant had a genuine and strongly held belief in what I will describe in short as the higher purpose of public service broadcasting. It is clearly of great personal significance to him.”