An experienced family court magistrate has been struck off for voicing his Christian-based belief that children are better off being adopted by a mother and father than by a same sex couple. He has accused the Lord Chancellor of pandering to “political orthodoxy”.
The Judiciary Conduct Investigations Office, which made the decision, said comments he made during a BBC debate showed that he was biased against same sex adopters, but he has accused them of conducting a social experiment waged on the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in society.
Magistrate Richard Page, a father of three and a former NHS manager specialising in mental health services, served 15 years on the Maidstone and Sevenoaks courts in Kent, and had just one month left to serve as a justice of the peace when the decision to remove him was made.
It came thanks to a brief comment he made during a BBC interview in March 2015, in which Mr Page said: “My responsibility as a magistrate, as I saw it, was to do what I considered best for the child, and my feeling was therefore that it would be better if it was a man and woman who were the adopted parents.” The interview was part of a televised debate on Christians in public life.
In 2014 Mr Page made similar comments, saying children are better placed “with a mother and father”, for which he was also reprimanded, and made to complete equality training.
In a statement on behalf of the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office, a spokesman for the office said: “Mr Richard Page JP, a magistrate assigned to the Central Kent Bench has been removed from the magistracy.
The Lord Chancellor and Lord Chief Justice found that Mr Page’s comments on national television would have caused a reasonable person to conclude he was biased and prejudiced against single sex adopters; they considered this to be serious misconduct which brought the magistracy into disrepute. They have therefore removed Mr Page from the magistracy.
“In 2014 the Lord Chancellor and Lord Chief Justice issued Mr Page with a reprimand after finding that during a Family Court hearing he had allowed himself to be influenced by his religious beliefs and not by the evidence.”
The decision was signed off by justice secretary Michael Gove who was himself adopted by a married mother and father, as well as the lord chief justice, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd.
Mr Page has stood by his comments, accusing the establishment of conducting a social experiment in political correctness on vulnerable children. In a statement he said: “When you sit in a Family Court, you have a huge responsibility to ensure the overall well-being of the children who are being recommended to be placed into new families. You weigh the reports and references before you and the evidence you hear.
“In the case of same-sex couples adopting children, it has only been a relatively short time that same-sex couples have been able to adopt and foster, and therefore there has not been time for a proper analysis to be carried out into the effects such placements have on the children’s educational, emotional and developmental wellbeing.
“As a magistrate, I have to act on the evidence before me and quite simply, I believe that there is not sufficient evidence to convince me that placing a child in the care of a same-sex couple can be as holistically beneficial to a child as placing them with a mum and dad as God and nature intended.
“I am surprised that the Lord Chancellor should seemingly pander to the new political orthodoxy when what it amounts to is social experimentation on the lives of the most vulnerable children in our communities.
“I cannot believe that the establishment is trying to silence someone like me who has served it wholeheartedly all of my working life.”
Libby Powell of Christian Concern told Talk2Me Radio: “He’s expressed his private view, informed by his Christianity and other facts.
“What this case is about is Richard being punished for his views, a view which many people hold and express every day.”
Saying she believed that Mr Page had been sacked because of his religious views, she added: “The establishment here has punished Richard for voicing his concerns.”
Andrea Williams of the Christian Legal Centre, which is representing Mr Page said: “The Lord Chancellor has removed Richard from the magistracy for allegedly being ‘prejudiced’ and for speaking out in the media about what has happened to him.
“This unmasks the face of the new political orthodoxy; it is unkind. It tries to silence opposing views and if it fails it crushes and punishes the person who holds those views.
“To remove someone like Richard from the bench is modern day madness. He has a lifetime of public service, expertise in mental health.
“He is motivated by his Christian faith and a deep compassion for people.”