Hunt saboteur's animal rights beliefs are a 'religion' that employers must respect

Paul Mobbs mobbsey at
Wed Mar 9 13:14:03 GMT 2011

Hash: SHA1

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 
employment law.

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 

- -- 


"We are not for names, nor men, nor titles of Government,
nor are we for this party nor against the other but we are
for justice and mercy and truth and peace and true freedom,
that these may be exalted in our nation, and that goodness,
righteousness, meekness, temperance, peace and unity with
God, and with one another, that these things may abound."
(Edward Burrough, 1659 - from 'Quaker Faith and Practice')

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