Successful outcome in High Court challenge against decision to exclude humanists from religious education body

Louise Whitfield of Deighton Pierce Glynn, acting on behalf of Humanists UK and humanist representative and local parent Kathy Riddick, led a successful challenge of the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s decision to exclude Ms Riddick from membership of its standing advisory council on religious education (SACRE) because she was a humanist.

Earlier this year the Council decided to deny membership of its SACRE to Ms Riddick. SACREs are local authority committees required by education law to oversee religious education in the local area. Both Ms Riddick, whose children attend schools in the Vale of Glamorgan, and Humanists UK were given permission by the High Court in Cardiff to challenge the Council’s decision on the grounds that it unlawfully discriminates against humanists and has the effect of relegating non-religious world views below religions in a way which fails to comply with the Human Rights Act and European Convention on Human Rights.

As a result of the legal challenge, the Vale of Glamorgan has now withdrawn its decision rather than defend it in the High Court and has agreed to review its policy on humanist membership of the SACRE. It has also agreed to take a fresh decision on the membership application of our client, Kathy Riddick.

Commenting on this positive outcome, Humanists UK, stated that: “The decision of Vale of Glamorgan Council to withdraw its opposition in the face of a legal challenge must surely send a clear message to all other councils across England and Wales that the exclusion of humanists constitutes unlawful discrimination.”

Louise Whitfield added, “This is such an important issue, we are very pleased the Council agreed to withdraw their decision. The Council needs a complete rethink of not only their decision in respect of our client, Kathy Riddick, but also of their entire policy in respect of the inclusion of humanists in its religious education bodies”.

More information is available from our client’s website here: https://humanism.org.uk/2017/10/06/council-backs-down-in-high-court-challenge-to-exclusion-of-humanists-from-local-re-body

Humanists UK and Ms Riddick were represented by Louise Whitfield of DPG and David Wolfe QC of Matrix Chambers.