In an important free speech win, the High Court has said that a Christian fostering agency’s recruitment policy is not unlawful.
Cornerstone (North East) Adoption and Fostering Service came under pressure from government regulator Ofsted to drop its religious ethos.
Last year, Ofsted downgraded the agency from ‘good’ in all areas to ‘requires improvement’ and the report claimed that in recruiting only evangelical Christian carers, Cornerstone was guilty of unlawful discrimination.
High Court Justice Julian Knowles however ruled that Cornerstone’s recruitment policy was not unlawful although he did say the agency could not compel carers to live by its beliefs.
Cornerstone's chairwoman, Reverend Sheila Bamber, said: "The judgement justifies our decision to pursue this legal action. Our right to support Christian families in providing the best possible outcomes for vulnerable children and young people has been upheld.
The outcome is obviously very welcome and we pay tribute to the excellent work of our friends at the Christian Institute for supporting this case and to Cornerstone Adoption and Fostering Services for their courage and commitment. This ruling should give encouragement to other Christian agencies and charities that they can continue to recruit evangelical Christians should they wish to do so.