Get involved: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting OXFORD NEWS to 80360 or email us
Ex-don settles dismissal claim
1:59pm Tuesday 8th January 2008 in News
A former academic has accepted up to £20,000 from her former employers at an Oxford University hall, after they accepted they had unfairly dismissed her.
Dr Elaine Storkey, a BBC religious affairs presenter, was awarded the cash from Wycliffe Hall, in Banbury Road.
But she is now suing the Bishop of Liverpool over a clash of Christian beliefs at the university.
Dr Storkey, who features on Radio 4's Thought for the Day, told an employment tribunal she had been bullied while working as a Senior Research Fellow in Theology.
The 64-year-old is seeking a ruling of religious discrimination against the Rt Rev James Jones, chairman of the hall's trustees. It follows a growing rift between liberal and conservative members of staff.
She said after the hearing: "I'm really glad we have agreed on something. I was offered a settlement many months ago but I wanted it to be acknowledged that they had done this wrong to me."
The case has been adjourned until June, when the tribunal will decide whether the Doctor's evangelical stance constitutes a religion distinct from other evangelists.
Their decision could have far-reaching implications within religious circles.
Dr Storkey named Bishop James, and Andrew Dalton, the hall's treasurer, in her legal action.
She alleged that after more than three years at Wycliffe, conditions worsened with the appointment of the new principal, the Rev Dr Richard Turnbull.
Since his arrival and that of his deputy, the Rev Dr Simon Vibert, six members of staff have resigned, alleging the college was being taken down an ultra-conservative path.
Bruce Carr, representing the college trustees, said: "The respondent accepts that the dismissal of the claimant was unfair."
Following the settlement of the unfair dismissal claim, Charles Crow, representing Dr Storkey, said: "Within Christian evangelism there are two determinate strands: conservative evangelism and an open and more liberal evangelism.
"Those are open and definable strands and as an open and clear proponent of one of those strands, she (Dr Storkey) has been discriminated against."
However, Mr Carr argued Dr Storkey could not allege discrimination against people of the same faith as her.