Lib Dems reported to human rights watchdog over deselection of Christian

The Liberal Democrats have been reported to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) over allegations a party candidate was deselected over his Christian views.

Award-winning former BBC journalist David Campanale had been the party’s prospective parliamentary candidate for the South London swing seat Sutton and Cheam, but after two years of campaigning LGBT activists within the party have succeeded in having him deselected.

The prolonged period of hostility began after Campanale indicated his intention, if elected, to vote according to his conscience on non-whipped votes such as pro-life issues. But local party members told him “we do not recognise your right to have a conscience”.

‘Breaches of equality law’

Activists also complained about the former journalist’s previous involvement with the Christian Peoples Alliance political party, and claimed he had not disclosed his Christian faith during the selection process, which he denies.

In a letter to the EHRC, Campanale’s supporters called for an independent investigation into “multiple alleged breaches of equality law and our party constitution”.

They wrote: “This evidence depicts a supposedly liberal organisation allowing clear religious discrimination and hostility to thrive within its ranks.

“It suggests that Mr Campanale was driven out from his democratically elected position not because of any objective failings or wrongdoing but because a vocal group within SBLD [Sutton Borough Liberal Democrats] refused to tolerate his Christian worldview.”

‘Kangaroo court’

The signatories added: “Although Mr Campanale has submitted evidence of religious discrimination, harassment and victimisation perpetrated against him to party authorities at all levels over a two-year period, no appropriate action has been taken.

“We believe that only an external investigation by the EHRC can now secure justice.”

Hustings are already taking place to replace Campanale despite the ongoing appeal process, but senior party figures have spoken out in his support, including former Justice Minister Sir Simon Hughes, who said the deselection took place in a “kangaroo court”.

Lord Marks KC, justice spokesman for the party in the House of Lords, said the former BBC reporter was “deselected on the basis of a procedure that was seriously non-compliant with the Rules and fundamentally flawed”.

Undermining Christian foundations

Campanale told The Christian Institute in 2022 that the claims he had hidden his Christian faith during the candidate selection process could have been tested by “a quick online search”.

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He warned of a movement in Britain that wants to “undermine the Christian foundations of our constitution, that wants to remove all references to Christianity from the way in which our national life is guided and built.

“And it’s happening in education, we’re seeing cancel culture at work in universities, we’re seeing it in business, in the law and in schools. So I want to rally all people listening to this, step up, now is the time to engage.”

He said the “chilling effect, if they are able to get away with this, will be damaging for public institutions”.

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