Oxford College pursues theological vendetta

The Oxford theological college Wycliffe Hall yesterday “strongly refuted” claims that BBC Radio 4 contributor Dr Elaine Storkey was sacked from her research post because of her beliefs.Storkey was dismissed last year and has since issued legal proceedings against the training college, part of Oxford University, claiming that she was bullied out of her job and citing religious discrimination.

The Thought for the Day presenter claimed that conditions worsened after the appointment of Dr Richard Turnbull as principal, and that she was the victim of a battle between two strands of Christian evangelism.

She accepted a payout believed to be about £20,000 at an employment tribunal hearing in Reading on Monday, after the college agreed she was unfairly dismissed.

Storkey is still seeking a ruling of religious discrimination against the Right Rev James Jones, bishop of Liverpool, who is chairman of the hall’s trustees. Her lawyer will argue in a hearing set down for June that Storkey’s evangelical stance constitutes a religion.

A spokesman for Wycliffe Hall expressed hope that a settlement could be reached. “The college accepted that Dr Storkey had been unfairly dismissed as the college had not, prior to dismissal, gone through the statutory procedure. Nevertheless, we strongly refute any allegation that Elaine’s dismissal from Wycliffe was in any way connected with her religious beliefs.”

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