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Pagan Victory in English Law

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  • Lusitano-Romano
    Here s an article that is of the interest of all those who strive to restablish the cult of the European Ancient Deities: *** From: Robin Jackson (Information
    Message 1 of 1 , May 25, 2006
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      Here's an article that is of the interest of all those who strive to
      restablish the cult of the European Ancient Deities:

      ***

      From: Robin Jackson
      (Information Officer,
      Odinist Fellowship)

      Dear Colleague,
      You will be interested in this ground-breaking judicial decision,
      giving legal recognition to the Odinist religion in English law, as
      more fully detailed in the attached Round Robin. For the first time
      ever, a judicial declaration has stipulated that a pagan religion,
      namely Odinism, is to be accorded recognition, as a religion, for
      legal purposes. The legal precedent, established by this case, will
      help to protect the rights, not only of Odinists, but of all pagans,
      in the workplace. The Odinist Fellowship is proud of having achieved
      this breakthrough for the wider pagan community.
      Thanks be to the gods and goddesses!


      7 April 2006

      Round Robin 2006 / 2 - WE'VE WON!


      Dear Fellow Odinists,

      Today I have received some good news, which I have been waiting for
      with anticipation. I have held up this issue of this Round Robin, so
      as to make the announcement without delay. It concerns the tribunal
      case of an Odinist, sacked by his employer for expressing his
      religious faith in the workplace. The case has enormous implications
      for all pagans, especially as a legal judgment had to be reached as
      to whether Odinism, and by implication other pagan religions, should
      be accorded recognition under anti-discrimination legislation. We are
      delighted, therefore, to be able to declare the result, which our
      barrister summed up so succinctly and simply with the words, "We've
      won!"

      The case of Royal Mail Group PLC versus Donald Holden, which was
      heard in the Manchester Industrial Tribunal on 9 and 10 March, pitted
      a large, wealthy corporation, with a multi-million pound turnover,
      against a sole individual, Donald Holden, whose only resources were
      his honest integrity and his dogged determination to stand up for his
      rights. Donald is a member of the Odinist Fellowship, and we were
      able to put him in touch with a first-class barrister, Adrian Davies,
      an observer member of the Fellowship, who, I have to say, made
      mincemeat of the Royal Mail's witnesses in court. I, myself, was
      present on both days of the two-day hearing, and presented evidence
      as a witness on Donald's behalf.

      Whilst listening to the tribunal proceedings, I could not help
      thinking of Franz Kafka's disturbing, German-language novel, "The
      Trial", in which the hero gets embroiled in a surreal nightmare of
      paranoia-inducing, legal proceedings and insane bureaucracy. But by
      comparison with Kafka's narrative, it is the Holden case, which reads
      like far-fetched, surrealist fiction. Yet, sadly, the sorry society,
      in which we live, produces such travesties week in, week out.

      What are the facts of this case? Many of you will be surprised, as I
      was, to learn that, increasingly, employers with a large proportion
      of Muslim staff are being obliged to set aside rooms in the workplace
      for Muslim prayers, and to allow their employees to take time away
      from their duties to engage in these prayers. At the Mail Centre
      where Donald worked, there was just such a room, which was designated
      as a "Multicultural Room". That is important, because never, at any
      time, did the Royal Mail claim that the Room was solely for Muslim
      use, or that non-Muslims might not use it for their own purposes.

      And the simple point, that Donald was evidently trying to make is
      that he too, as an Odinist, and as a non-Muslim, had the right of
      access to the facilities, which, in theory, the management had set
      aside for all staff, but which, in practice, were being used as an
      exclusive Muslim Club Room. Donald had the audacity to enter the
      Room, as if he had an equal right to it as any other employee, in
      order to spend a few moments in silent prayer; and just as the Muslim
      employees used the Room to store their Korans and prayer calendars,
      Donald, himself, presumed to have the right to leave his sheets of
      paper, containing the text of our introductory booklet, "All About
      Odinism", downloaded from the internet, and some images of Odin, in
      the Room, on a couple of plastic chairs placed next to a sink.

      One item of evidence, which I have seen, is a book used to sign in
      and out for the key to this Multicultural Room. Donald's visits to
      the Room were always of short duration, and mainly took place on a
      Saturday, when the Mail Centre was almost empty, and when his
      security duties obliged him to patrol the building to check all was
      in order. I was able to see for myself, that certain names and
      signatures, evidently belonging to Muslim employees, recurred time
      and time again in the signing-in book, sometimes three or four times
      in a single shift, and that the duration of their stay was often half
      an hour, or more. Some would call this "skiving". It is true that
      pious Muslims are obliged to pray five times a day, and those times
      are usually considered to be dawn, morning, noon, evening and
      nightfall. So it seems remarkable that some of the Muslim employees
      were trying to fit them all into one shift. But the Royal Mail's
      managers weren't interested in that! They were more interested in
      what Donald was getting up to in the Muslim Club Room – sorry,
      Multicultural Room!

      The man was obviously threatening the cosy arrangement between
      management, unions and Muslim leaders, that prevailed at the Mail
      Centre – and so he had to be stopped! An anonymous complaint was
      made – this goes back to October 2004 – to the effect that a muddy
      footprint had been left on the carpet of the Multicultural Room. What
      could this mean? There could only be one possible interpretation:
      quite clearly, the culprit had intended it as an attack on the Muslim
      religion. And not only was it, self-evidently, an anti-Muslim
      footprint, but on closer examination it became obvious that it must
      have been made by an anti-Islamic boot; and, no doubt, that anti-
      Islamic boot had been wielded by an Islamophobic foot. And who else
      could that Islamophobic foot belong to? The principal suspect had to
      be Donald Holden, of course!

      What could any reasonable manager do in such circumstances?
      Obviously, there was only one solution: set up covert spy cameras in
      the Multicultural Room to trap the culprit, as he goes about creating
      criminal damage! So, for five months, from October 2004 to February
      2005, the managers video-recorded Donald to see if he was causing
      deliberate damage in the Room. Surprise, surprise! – the outcome of
      this five-month surveillance operation – which, no doubt, cost
      thousands of pounds to undertake – was that not a single piece of
      evidence was uncovered, implicating Donald in damage of any sort.
      Nor, indeed, were any more muddy footprints discovered.

      One of the curious features of the Holden case is that no one has
      ever managed to discover who actually muddied the carpet! Indeed, as
      the hearing progressed, it became increasingly doubtful whether
      anyone had actually seen any muddy footprint on the carpet, in the
      first place. None of the Royal Mail's managers, neither the
      investigating officer, nor Donald's line manager, nor the external
      appeals officer, admitted to having actually seen any footprint at
      all. And the only evidence, offered in support of its existence, was
      two anonymised statements, purportedly made by Muslim members of
      staff. But since these two statements were anonymous, and since those
      responsible for making them did not appear in court, and could not
      therefore be cross-examined, I began to find myself doubting their
      existence too. Had there ever been a muddy footprint? Did the
      affronted Muslims really exist? Was the footprint really anti-
      Islamic? Or was it just an imaginary, anti-Muslim, muddy footprint?
      The truth may never be known for certain, but some might be inclined
      to call it a "set-up".

      Now, of course, Donald was not aware that he was being spied on over
      a period of five months, and he was on his own whenever he went into
      the Multicultural Room. So, if he had had a mind to tear up a few
      Korans, scrawl anti-Muslim slogans on the walls, or leave behind
      defamatory cartoons of Mohammed, he could have done so without
      apparent risk of detection. But Donald had absolutely no intention of
      doing anything against the Islamic religion; he was simply intent on
      doing something for the Odinist faith, by staking his claim, as an
      Odinist, to a share in the use of that small part of his workplace –
      to establish his right of way, so to speak. Far from attempting
      anything suspicious, he dutifully signed in and out in the book for
      the key to the Multicultural Room, and simply went there to spend a
      few minutes on his own, as the video-recordings clearly showed.

      So, after five months of achieving nothing, what were the managers at
      the Mail Centre supposed to do? They realised that a charge of
      criminal damage could never be made to stick. But the matter could
      not be allowed to rest there, could it? No, it could not, for the
      video evidence gathered proved that Donald had been repeatedly
      leaving his religious literature in the Room on some plastic chairs
      near a sink. Doubtless, in some societies in the world today, that
      would be sufficient grounds for the culprit to be taken out, and
      summarily executed. However, as we, in this country, have not yet got
      around to introducing summary executions for insulting Islam, Donald
      was called in to be interviewed by an investigating officer, – this
      was on 23 February 2005, – subjected to a gruelling inquisition, and
      summarily suspended from work on the grounds of "religiously
      aggravated harassment directed against the Muslim faith". Donald was
      never to do a day's work for the Royal Mail again.

      The weakness of the Royal Mail's case against Donald, which became
      only too apparent during the course of the tribunal hearing,
      especially when our excellent barrister got the opportunity of
      grilling – and then frying and roasting – the Royal Mail's managers
      in cross-examination, is that, at each stage of the disciplinary
      proceedings against Donald, the definition of what action was deemed
      to constitute the "religiously aggravated harassment" altered. No two
      managers could exactly agree on what it was that Donald had done,
      which deserved to be called "harassment", but they all agreed that he
      was guilty of it, nonetheless.

      The investigating officer, who suspended Donald in February 2005,
      took the line that it was the religious literature, left by Donald in
      the Room, that was offensive to Muslims. This officer, in his
      interview with Donald, derided and belittled Donald's Odinist faith,
      trying to make him admit that he was not a true believer, and then
      asserting that Odinism was not a real religion at all. To support
      this, he had obtained a written statement from one of the Royal
      Mail's legal officers, stating: "We do not believe that Odinism could
      ever be recognised as a religion in a democratic society." The
      investigating officer, who had done some cursory research on the
      internet, quizzed Donald about aspects of the religion, and whenever
      Donald failed to give a ready answer, then tried to make it appear as
      if he was insincere in his religious persuasion. He described the
      literature Donald had left in the Room, i.e. the text of our "All
      About Odinism" booklet, as "offensive", and he called the pictures of
      Odin, also left there, "disturbing" and "alarming". When asked what
      he had been doing in the Room, Donald answered that he had been
      praying, though he had obviously not been kneeling or kow-towing
      while doing so, but this explanation was treated with derision.
      Despite a considerable amount of pressure put on him to admit that he
      was not truly an Odinist believer, or that Odinism is not a genuine
      religion, or that he was not really praying, Donald remained utterly
      steadfast, and refused to give in to any of these impudent and
      insulting assertions. The result was that Donald was summarily
      suspended from work, on full pay, pending further disciplinary
      investigations.

      I must also add, that this investigating officer admitted, in
      writing, that he was responsible for confiscating Donald's papers,
      including the two images of Allfather Odin – papers, which were,
      after all, Donald's private property – and then destroying them! Why
      did he have to do that? I made it clear to the tribunal, in my
      submissions, that this spiteful, sacrilegious act would cause a
      scandal among all true Odinists.

      It was at this time, that Donald first contacted me. I have to admit
      that, initially, I could hardly believe that I was hearing the whole
      story, and so I insisted on ascertaining the facts, and seeing the
      supporting documentation, myself. In all the two dozen years, in
      which I have worked for the Odinist movement, I had never encountered
      a genuine case of religious discrimination in the workplace. So I was
      astonished to do so now. At Donald's request, I wrote, in my capacity
      as Director of the Odinist Fellowship, to the Chairman of the Royal
      Mail Group, Mr Alan Leighton, pointing out to him that he must be
      aware, even if some of his subordinates were not, that it is illegal
      to discriminate on grounds of religion in matters of employment, and
      has been ever since the introduction of the Employment Equality
      (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003. I asked him to reconsider his
      managers' ill-advised decision, so as to prevent the matter from
      coming to court.

      However, the case was then passed on, from the investigating officer,
      to Donald's own line manager. Perhaps because of my letter to Mr
      Leighton, – who knows? – Donald's manager professed himself to be
      unconcerned by the content of the literature left in the Room. He had
      looked at the investigation afresh, and it was not the Odinist
      literature or images that disturbed him, and which he deemed to
      constitute "religiously aggravated harassment". No, it was the fact,
      of which there was undoubted video evidence, that Donald had walked
      on the carpet! – and that he had done so without taking his shoes
      off! – although his shoes must have been clean, since he had not left
      any muddy footprints! Walking on the carpet in the Multicultural
      Room, while wearing shoes, was against the rules. More seriously, it
      definitely – and without the shadow of a doubt –
      constituted "religiously aggravated harassment". What is more, since
      this action had been repeated time after time, Donald Holden was
      clearly a serial carpet-walker, and totally unfit to remain in the
      Royal Mail's employ. "Religiously aggravated harassment" is a
      criminal offence, and the manager had seriously considered reporting
      the matter to the police. He had no choice, therefore, but to decide
      on a summary dismissal. A man, who had had nearly thirty-three years'
      unblemished service in the Royal Mail, was to lose his livelihood and
      his pension rights – and all because he walked on the carpet! Welcome
      to the joys of diversity in Multicultural Britain!

      Donald appealed against his dismissal. The external appeals officer
      confirmed the decision to dismiss, but the grounds of dismissal this
      time were not because of the supposedly offensive action of leaving
      religious literature in the Multicultural Room, nor because of the
      harassment implicit in walking on the carpet, but because – oh, it
      gets funnier by the minute – because he moved the plastic chairs! The
      appeals officer stated, that she might not have taken such a dim view
      of Donald Holden's transgression, if it had not been for the fact
      that the video evidence showed him unstacking the two plastic chairs
      at the rear of the room, and placing one of them near the sink, where
      the Muslims used to wash before prayers. The video film showed, that
      he did this repeatedly on many of the occasions, when he entered the
      Multicultural Room. Indeed, Donald admitted having done so, and that
      he had placed his images on the chair, so as to have a better view of
      them. The appeals officer therefore, naturally, concluded that it was
      a case of harassment. Moreover, it was repeated and deliberate
      harassment, and therefore "religiously aggravated harassment". As
      such, it was just about the most serious crime in the book. The
      decision to dismiss was confirmed.

      Fortunately, not everyone in the world has gone stark, raving mad.
      The three Panel Members of the Manchester Industrial Tribunal, after
      hearing all the evidence in the case, formed the judgment that Donald
      Holden had been unfairly dismissed, and, although they cannot order
      his reinstatement, they can order the Royal Mail to pay a substantial
      package of compensation. The pay-out is likely to run to six figures.
      And rightly so! He has lost his job, his overtime opportunities, and
      his retirement prospects. And I know, that the stress of a long-drawn
      out case has taken its toll on him and on his family. Fortunately,
      Donald has found alternative employment. And perhaps it will turn out
      to be a blessing in disguise, as his conditions of work, alongside
      such managers, could hardly have been congenial. I am sure all our
      members will join me in wishing him and his family all the very best
      for the future – and likewise in expressing our appreciation to his
      dedicated legal team!

      Let us not forget, however, that thanks are also due elsewhere. We
      have prayed to the gods, especially to Forseti, the god who presides
      over cases of law to ensure justice is achieved. And we have asked
      others to join with our prayers, and I am assured that they have done
      so too. Three weeks ago, during a rally of Northern members, held on
      the occasion of the Odinist Easter at Grindleford, in Derbyshire, we
      offered a sacrifice for this particular intention. The sacrifice of
      the Cup of Remembrance is magically most effective. The gods heard
      our pleas, and worked through us to bring victory in a just cause.
      Odinism has been vindicated! Thanks and praise be to Forseti, and to
      all the gods and goddesses!

      One noteworthy feature of this story is that the anti-pagan
      persecution was not being directed by Donald's Muslim colleagues,
      with whom he had no real problem at all, but by a clique of managers,
      all of them white British, who are dogmatically committed to pursuing
      their own perverse programme of "multicultural diversity". These
      managers were absolutely and unswervingly convinced that a trivial
      action, like placing a plastic chair by a sink, could be viewed as
      nothing other than a premeditated insult to Islam. Yet the same
      managers admitted, in the tribunal, that their knowledge of the
      Muslim faith was limited in the extreme. In a previous age, such
      hypocritical paragons of political correctitude, would have made
      exemplary Puritan witch-finders, or agents of the Holy Inquisition,
      ferretting out heretics who had eaten meat in Lent, or crossed
      themselves the wrong way round, and casting them on to the burning
      pyre. The self-styled "politically correct", with their multi-faith
      agenda, are truly the witch-finders general of the modern age.

      Let me conclude by quoting the reserved judgment of the tribunal
      concerning the recognition of Odinism as a religion. The tribunal had
      to decide whether Odinism satisfies the definition of a religion or
      belief in terms of the Employment Equality (Religion or Belief)
      Regulations 2003. This is the first time ever that this question has
      been considered in court, and the tribunal's judgment establishes a
      precedent, which can be referred to in any future law case in which
      an Odinist – or, by implication, any other pagan – claims unfair
      dismissal on religious grounds or religious discrimination in matters
      of employment. The reader will, particularly, want to note the
      identifying characteristics that the tribunal panel were looking for,
      in trying to ascertain, on an objective basis, whether or not Odinism
      should be recognised, for legal purposes, as a religion, as these are
      the features that a reasonable person would expect any recognisable
      religion to possess. Here is what the tribunal declared:-

      "The first issue for the Tribunal is whether Odinism satisifies the
      definition of a religion or belief in regulation 2(1). Mr Davies
      contends that it does. Mr Peacock [barrister representing the Royal
      Mail] neither admits nor disputes it."
      "The Tribunal finds that Odinism is a religion or belief within
      regulation 2(1). The Tribunal has considered the literature about
      Odinism in the Bundle of Documents (which appears to be principally a
      hard copy of material from the website of the Odinist Fellowship) and
      also the evidence given by Mr Harrison, the Director of the Odinist
      Fellowship. The Tribunal finds Odinism to be a belief systm based on
      the pre-Christian heathen religion of the British Isles. It is
      polytheistic and honours the Odinic pantheon of deities with
      particular regard being paid to the deity of Odin or Woden. It has a
      concept of the secular and the spiritual worlds and the relationship
      between them. It has a broad code of ethics based on what are called
      the Nine Noble Virtues. It has rituals and ceremonies including the
      Cup of Remembrance, Naming, Pledge of Faith, Wedding and Laying to
      Rest. It does not have any sacred texts as such but it pays special
      heed to works known as the Prose Edda and the Poetic Edda which it
      regards as sources of information about the heathen religion. The
      Tribunal is not required to make any value judgment or assessment of
      Odinism as a belief system but to decide whether it satisfies the
      relatively exiguous definition in regulation 2(1) and the Tribunal is
      satisfied that it does."

      Well, I don't think you can say fairer than that! Remember the case
      of Royal Mail Group PLC v Holden (2006). For all pagans of every
      kind, this has established a precedent ensuring your rights in law.
      Odinism is now, quite categorically and specifically, covered and
      protected by anti-discrimination legislation, in the same way that
      has been taken for granted by other religions.

      We Odinists have never needed any outside assurance that ours is a
      true and genuine religion. That is something we know in our hearts,
      and something we are taught by our nation's history. But many
      Odinists, nonetheless, have craved a clear statement by judicial
      authorities that our holy religion is and will be recognised in
      English law. Thank the gods! Now we have it!
      With sincere Odinist greetings!

      Ralph Harrison
      (Director)
      _________________
      Respectfully,

      -Maurer



      From here: http://www.wcer.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=101
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