I’ve been sent an internal Church of England document that indicates that both Hereford and Lambeth Palace are taking the tribunal ruling terribly seriously and that Church House isn’t quite panicking yet but is certainly in a bit of a tis. The following points are a mixture of my conjecture and what I’ve read / been told.
- It looks as though quite a few dioceses have been in touch with Hereford as they are concerned about the consequences of the tribunal ruling.
- The argument that I put forward here that the ruling actually strengthens the church’s position (in that it supports the idea that it can legally discriminate on clear grounds of doctrine and pastoral practice based on doctrine) has been suggested by others within the CofE hierarchy. There is a possibility that the Church of England as a whole may take the case forward to appeal on the grounds that even a loss would strengthen it’s case for future discrimination under section 7(3) of the 2003 Act by creating a judicial precedent in the interpretation of the Act.
- The original defence for Hereford was paid for by an anonymous donor. Reaney was backed (including financially) by Stonewall and others. There is obvious concern that the costs of any appeal should not fall on Parish Share payers.
- There is clear dissatisfaction amongst some in Hereford and beyond in the ruling that the Bishop was found guilty of discriminating directly. This may be another grounds for appeal as the judgement seems to some to be tenuous.
It seems then that the case will rumble on for some time yet. The bottom line is that if the funding can be sorted out, the case will very likely go to appeal and set clear precedents in the interpretation of the 2003 Act.