Pemberton v Inwood [2018] EWCA Civ 564

March 23, 2018

Canon Jeremy Pemberton, who married his partner Laurence Cunnington and, as a result, was unable to take up the post of Chaplaincy and Bereavement Manager at the Kingsmill Hospital run by the Sherwood Hospitals NHS Trust after the Rt Revd Richard Inwood, at the time Acting Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham, revoked his Permission to Officiate within the Diocese and declined to grant him an Extra Parochial Ministry Licence, has lost his latest appeal.

In Pemberton v Inwood [2018] EWCA Civ 564, the Court of Appeal held that there had been no error of law HHJ Eady’s reasoning in the Employment Appeal Tribunal. Her Honour had been correct to conclude that the lower Tribunal had been entitled to find that “the doctrines, as in teachings and beliefs of the Church of England, were as stated in Canon B30 with specific regard in relation to same sex marriages to the statement of Pastoral Guidance from the House of Bishops…” [62] and it had not been necessary “that there should be an express provision prohibiting a priest from entering into a same-sex marriage and spelling out the consequences if he did” [63]. Although the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 had extended the meaning of marriage, the position of the Church of England was “carefully preserved in sections 1(3), (4) and 11” of the Act [64]; and Her Honour “did not err in law in deciding at [113] of the EAT Determination that the ET was entitled to find that the requirement had been applied so as to comply with the doctrines as found” [66].

The Court of Appeal also dismissed the claim of harassment [74]. On the harassment issue, Underhill LJ observed in a concurring judgment that “If you belong to an institution with known, and lawful, rules, it implies no violation of dignity, and is not cause for reasonable offence, that those rules should be applied to you, however wrong you may believe them to be. Not all opposition of interests is hostile or offensive” [89].