Glasgow venue told to pay Franklin Graham £100,000 for axing event – BBC News

Archbishop Jerome Lloyd OSJVPosted by

A Glasgow venue has been ordered to pay almost £100,000 in damages to a US preacher after axing his event.

Glasgow venue told to pay Franklin Graham £100,000 for axing event – BBC News
Franklin Graham
Image caption,Franklin Graham has been criticised for comments about gay marriage and Islam

A Glasgow venue has been ordered to pay almost £100,000 in damages to a US preacher after axing his event.

The Scottish Event Campus (SEC) was ruled by a sheriff to have discriminated against the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA).

Franklin Graham’s Hydro appearance was scrapped following pressure from the council and religious groups over offensive comments.

Venue staff had claimed the move was due to security and protest concerns.

Mr Graham, the son of the late evangelist Billy Graham and president of the BGEA, has faced criticism over remarks about homosexuality, Islam and Donald Trump.

He was scheduled to appear at the SEC’s Hydro arena in May 2020 as part of a UK tour.

But the event was cancelled in January 2020, with staff citing “recent adverse publicity”.

A judge at a civil hearing at Glasgow Sheriff Court ruled the SEC had breached the Equality Act by not letting Mr Graham perform.

BGEA lost a total of £97,325.32 as a result of the event’s cancellation which Sheriff McCormick has ordered the SEC to pay.

‘Outreach event’

In his judgement, Sheriff McCormick said it was agreed the venue would host “an evangelical outreach event”.

Although security and protest concerns were discussed by the SEC’s board, the judge found they were not the sole or main reason for the cancellation.

Such concerns also were not mentioned at a meeting with Glasgow City Council, which was said to have applied pressure to “cancel the booking as it may offend others”.

He continued: “Then it follows that the decision to cancel was a breach of the Equality Act 2010 in that the event was cancelled as a commercial response to the views of the objector”.

Sheriff McCormick explained: “The pursuer’s right to engage a speaker at the evangelical event – in furtherance of a religious or philosophical belief – is protected by law”.

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump stand with Franklin Graham during a ceremony
Image caption,Franklin Graham (pictured right with Donald Trump and Melania Trump) is a prominent Christian leader in the US

Following the judgement, an SEC spokesperson said: “We are naturally disappointed in the outcome of the case.

“We are currently reviewing the extensive documentation to determine whether any further action is required.”

Mr Graham described the ruling as a “clear victory for freedom of speech and religion in the UK”.

He added: “This case was never about financial remedies – it was about the preservation of religious freedom in the UK.”

The court heard Scottish Green Party co-leader Patrick Harvie had lobbied by email for the event to be cancelled.

Rev Bryan Kerr, a Church of Scotland minister in Lanark, also launched a petition to pressure the SEC to rethink Mr Graham’s appearance.

Backed by Glasgow’s LGBT+ Interfaith Network, it said Mr Graham’s views were “not mainstream” and did not “sit comfortably with many Christians in Scotland”.

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