Claim made at employment tribunal
A chairwoman humiliated the chief executive of a charity because of his views on same-sex marriage, an employment tribunal has heard.
Kenneth Ferguson, an elder and treasurer with the Free Church of Scotland, is suing the Robertson Trust for unfair dismissal, religious discrimination and religious harassment.
He accused chair Shonaig Macpherson, of undermining him after learning that its conference venue had been booked by the Stirling Free Church, which opposes gay weddings.
Ferguson maintains that the church had an agreement in place to use the conference centre for worship on a Sunday but says Macpherson canceled it in a rage when she discovered the agreement.
Katie Campbell, the trust’s former head of finance, gave evidence that Macpherson sat with her back to Ferguson and “muttered whenever he chose to speak” at a meeting on January 13, 2020.
However, her version of events was challenged by the trust’s legal representative, Catriona Aldridge. “Shonaig Macpherson’s account is that she did not sit with her back towards Kenneth Ferguson because that would have meant that she would have to turn her back on the presentation they were both attending,” Aldridge said.
“She didn’t actually turn her back on him, did she?”
Campbell said: “She definitely did. I remember seeing it and other people commented on it.”
Campbell claimed that Macpherson shook her head and muttered “no, no, no” under her breath whenever Ferguson tried to address the meeting.
Her account was again challenged by Aldridge, who suggested that this incident had happened at a meeting on December 3 rather than January 13.
Campbell stood by her evidence, saying: “I don’t think I was at that meeting”.
She also rejected the suggestion that she had tried to conceal the booking. “Would it have been possible to hide the rental of the flagship premises to a church from the board and Ms Macpherson?” asked Thomas Cordrey, acting for Ferguson.
Campbell said: “I doubt it. We weren’t actively concealing it.”
The tribunal continues.