Hunt saboteur's animal rights beliefs are a 'religion' that employers must respect
mobbsey at gn.apc.org
Wed Mar 9 13:14:03 GMT 2011
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Well, that should put the cat amongst the pidgeons!... err, perhaps not the
best metaphor in the circumstances :-(
Hunt saboteur's animal rights beliefs are a 'religion' that employers must
Court rules anti-hunt views should be protected by laws on religious equality
in the workplace
Tamara Cohen, Daily Hate, 9th March 2011
A prominent animal rights campaigner yesterday won a landmark ruling that his
beliefs should be protected from discrimination at work in the same way as
Joe Hashman, 42, claimed he was sacked as a designer from a garden centre when
his bosses realised he was a hunt saboteur.
In a decision that is expected to open the floodgates to similar claims, a
judge ruled his anti-hunting views were a ‘philosophical belief’ under
The veteran campaigner claimed he was axed a day after his covert footage
helped to convict celebrity chef Clarissa Dickson Wright of attending an
illegal hare coursing event.
He took his employers Ron and Sheila Clarke to an employment tribunal seeking
£50,000 in damages.
The couple, owners of the Orchard Park Garden Centre in Gillingham, Dorset,
are active in the South and West Wiltshire Hunt.
Yesterday Judge Lawrence Guyer backed Mr Hashman, a married father of two.
He said the activist’s ‘deeply held’ beliefs about the environment, animal
rights, veganism and opposition to hunting should be protected under 2003
rules on religious equality at work. ‘
Mr Hashman believes that people should live their lives with mindful respect
for animals and we all have a moral obligation to live in a way which is kind
to each other, our environment and our fellow creatures,’ said Judge Guyer.
‘I have no hesitation in finding that he thinks very deeply about the issues
arising from his beliefs and that he attempts to live his life in accord with
those beliefs. I find that his beliefs are truly part of his philosophical
After the landmark judgment, Mr Hashman said: ‘I feel vindicated and am proud
to have pursued this action.’
His solicitor, Shah Quereshi, said: ‘The decision widens anti-discrimination
laws to give protection to swathes of animal rights campaigners.’
But experts warned the decision would add to the pressure on the tribunal
Employment lawyer Gordon Turner said: ‘It will be open to abuse. If you keep
extending the genre of activities which is protected by law, the number of
beliefs is infinite.’
After yesterday’s preliminary ruling in Southampton, a full hearing will be
held later this year to decide if Mr Hashman, of Shaftesbury, Dorset, suffered
The activist has previously won a ruling in the European Court of Human
Rights. In 1999, it overturned an English court’s decision to bind him over
for blowing a horn and shouting at a hunt.
The judges said it breached his right to freedom of expression.
Mr Hashman is a vegan who began going to animals rights protests in 1982, aged
14. He became a life member of the Hunt Saboteurs Association two years later.
He is also active in other animal rights groups and has appeared extensively
on television and in the press.
His employers insisted he was let go after seven months because the vegetable
patch he ran to encourage customers to grow their own was not making enough
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