Christian thrown off university course appeals after losing High Court fight
A devout Christian thrown off a university social work course after being accused of posting derogatory comments about homosexuals and bisexuals online is preparing for the latest round of a legal battle.
Felix Ngole, of Barnsley, South Yorkshire, who said he was expressing a traditional Christian view and complained that Sheffield University bosses unfairly stopped him completing a postgraduate degree, has mounted an appeal after losing a High Court fight.
In October 2017, Deputy High Court judge Rowena Collins Rice ruled that university bosses had acted within the law following a High Court trial in London.
Three appeal judges are listed to hear Mr Ngole’s challenge to that decision at a Court of Appeal hearing in London on Tuesday.
Mr Ngole had told Judge Collins Rice that his rights to freedom of speech and thought, enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights, had been breached.
But lawyers representing the university argued that he had shown “no insight”, and said the decision to remove him from the course was fair and proportionate.
They said Mr Ngole had been studying for a professional qualification, and said university bosses had to consider his fitness to practise.
Judge Collins Rice said freedom of religious discourse was a public good of great importance.
But she said social workers had considerable power over the lives of vulnerable people, and said trust was a precious professional commodity.
Mr Ngole posted comments in 2015, when in his late 30s, the judge had been told.
He was taking part in a debate on a Facebook page about Kim Davis, an official in the US state of Kentucky, who refused to register same-sex marriages.
Mr Ngole said he had argued that Mrs Davis’s position was based on the “Biblical view of same-sex marriage as a sin”.
He said he was making a “genuine contribution” to an important public debate and said he was “entitled to express his religious views”.
University bosses said he had posted comments on a publicly accessible Facebook page which were “derogatory of gay men and bisexuals”.