Calls to probe boarding school over chaplain in 'terrorism' row

Charity Commission faces calls to probe boarding school that reported its chaplain to anti-terror unit Prevent after he told pupils they can disagree with LGBT teaching

  • Free speech campaigner Toby Young urged regulator to hold inquiry into Trent College’s dismissal of Reverend Dr Bernard Randall
  • School referred Dr Randall to Prevent after he delivered sermon in which he told pupils they were allowed to disagree with school’s new LGBT policies
  • College decided Dr Randall’s sermon was ‘harmful to LGBT’ students – but police probe ruled he posed ‘no counter-terrorism risk, or risk of radicalisation’
  • He is now suing the school for discrimination and unfair dismissal

The Charity Commission last night faced calls to investigate an independent school which reported its own chaplain to an anti-terrorism programme after he questioned its new LGBT policies.

Free speech campaigner Toby Young urged the regulator to hold an inquiry into Trent College’s dismissal of Reverend Dr Bernard Randall, in a letter seen by The Mail on Sunday.

This newspaper last month revealed how the school referred Dr Randall to Prevent, which normally identifies those at risk of being radicalised, after he delivered a sermon in which he told pupils they were allowed to disagree with the school’s new LGBT policies.

He said it was prompted by concerns from pupils about Educate and Celebrate, an organisation invited to ’embed gender, gender identity and sexual orientation into the fabric’ of the school.

The Charity Commission last night faced calls to investigate an independent school which reported its own chaplain to an anti-terrorism programme after he questioned its new LGBT policies. Trent College decided Dr Bernard Randall’s (above) sermon was ‘harmful to LGBT’ students, although a police probe ruled the chaplain posed ‘no counter-terrorism risk, or risk of radicalisation’. He is now suing the school for discrimination and unfair dismissal

Trent College decided Dr Randall’s sermon was ‘harmful to LGBT’ students, although a police probe ruled the chaplain posed ‘no counter-terrorism risk, or risk of radicalisation’. He is now suing the school for discrimination and unfair dismissal.

In his letter to the charity Commission Mr Young, said: ‘Invoking the Prevent duty is a serious decision which is not to be taken lightly or unthinkingly.

‘It threatens the involvement of the state’s security powers and real and serious interference with freedom of expression.’

Free speech campaigner Toby Young (above) urged the regulator to hold an inquiry into Trent College’s dismissal of Dr Randall, in a letter seen by The Mail on Sunday

The Charity Commission last night said it was aware of the case and that it expects the school ‘to keep us informed of any developments’.

‘…should further concerns come to light, we would assess these in line with our regulatory and risk framework,’ a spokeswoman added.

Meanwhile, the MoS can reveal that Dr Randall’s legal case has been delayed for more than a year.

A 12-day employment tribunal hearing was expected to start on June 14 but has now been postponed until September 2022. 

It is understood that a judge overseeing the case heavily criticised the school and its lawyers earlier this month for failing to exchange legal documents in time.

Dr Randall last night said: ‘I am extremely disappointed that Trent College and its lawyers have failed to actively engage with the legal process. I regret that a shadow remains over the school and its leadership, which will be detrimental to pupils and teaching staff.’

Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, which is representing Dr Randall, said: ‘Justice delayed is justice denied. 

‘For over seven months, Christian Legal Centre lawyers have been ready and willing to prepare for this 12-day hearing, but the school and its lawyers have simply refused to comply.’ 

Bill Penty, the head of Trent College, said: ‘We were disappointed to hear that the Employment Tribunal was not proceeding on its June dates and understand that the postponement was at the direction of the judge.

‘Trent College has been and remains committed to defending the case and will continue to respect the Tribunal process and its decisions.’

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