A Christian electrician who faced the sack in April for displaying a small palm cross in his company van has now been suspended from work, reportedly for speaking out in the media.
Earlier this year Colin Atkinson, who works at Wakefield and District Housing (WDH), faced losing his job over the small cross in a row about ‘neutrality’. Mr Atkinson has been supported by the Christian Legal Centre during his ordeal.
Mr Atkinson’s boss at WDH was allowed to display a poster of Che Guevara in his office and a company official said it would allow a Muslim member of staff to wear a burka in company colours.
In April Mr Atkinson reached a compromise agreement with WDH which allowed him to keep the small palm cross in his van. His boss also removed his Che Guevara poster.
But now Mr Atkinson says the agreement with his employer has been “blown apart”, and he has been suspended, reportedly for speaking out about new developments in his situation.
He said: “WDH have broken faith with me and not restored me to my job as they promised.
“I was told to travel in by bus and I suffered harassment at work.
“This is all because I wanted to keep a small palm cross in my van. I have not done anything wrong and I just want to return to my normal workplace.”
He says he was asked to move to another worksite and also had his company van taken from him.
Mr Atkinson says he was shocked and lodged a grievance with his employers.
He commented: “I’ve got a right to speak out in the national interest, the interest of the British public and a right to defend myself.”
“They said it was a breach of confidentiality that has precipitated an irreversible breakdown in relations.”
A spokesman for Wakefield and District Housing declined to comment.
Andrea Minichiello Williams, head of the Christian group supporting Mr Atkinson, said: “At the Christian Legal Centre we will be doing all we can to ensure that WDH is held to account and that Colin is free to express his Christian faith in the workplace.”