Christian school assistant sacked over Facebook post can take her case to Court of Appeal

Kristie Higgs was sacked for gross misconduct over the Facebook posts.(Photo: Christian Legal Centre)

A Christian school teacher who was sacked after expressing concerns on Facebook about Relationships and Sex Education lessons and transgenderism in schools has been given permission to take her case to the Court of Appeal. 

Kristie Higgs, 47, has been fighting against her dismissal by Fairford Secondary School in Gloucestershire for the last five years. 

Granting permission for her legal challenge to move forward, Lady Justice Elisabeth Laing said that “all the grounds of appeal are arguable with reasonable prospects of success”.

“Even if they were not, this appeal raises at least three important questions about the dismissal of an employee for the expression of her beliefs,” she said.

These questions include the “erroneous view that [Mrs Higgs’] views constituted unlawful discrimination”, and “the extent to which an employer may lawfully dismiss an employee for expressing views which are based on her religious beliefs in a forum which is not in the workplace, is not controlled by the employer, and which has a limited number of members”. 

The case relates to two Facebook posts shared in 2018 by Mrs Higgs on her personal Facebook account which was in her maiden name and did not have any links to her employer.

In the first post, she shared a link to a petition challenging the government’s plans to introduce compulsory RSE lessons to schools. The second post linked to an article raising concerns about books promoting transgender ideology in schools. 

She was investigated by the school after a single complaint about the posts, before later being sacked for gross misconduct. 

The school alleged “illegal discrimination”, “serious inappropriate use of social media”, and “online comments that could bring the school into disrepute and damage the reputation of the school”. 

In 2020, an employment tribunal found in favour of the school. In 2022, her appeal was postponed after Mrs Justice Eady recused trans campaigner Edward Lord from sitting on the presiding panel. His replacement, Andrew Morris, the former Assistant General Secretary of National Education Union (NEU), was recused the following year, leading to more setbacks. 

The Christian Legal Centre (CLC), which is supporting Higgs in her case, said that the hearing at the Court of Appeal is likely to take place this year.

Responding to the news, Mrs Higgs said she was “very grateful” to Justice Laing for allowing the case to proceed on all grounds, and that she hoped to “receive full justice” at the Court of Appeal. 

“From the beginning, despite the many attempts by the school to suggest otherwise, this has always been about my Christian beliefs and me being discriminated against for expressing them in my own time,” she said. 

“I was, and still am, appalled by the sexual ideology that was being introduced to my son’s Church of England primary school. What has happened since in schools with extreme RSE and transgender ideology shows that I was right to be concerned as a parent.”

The CLC’s chief executive, Andrea Williams, said it was an important case. 

“For Kristie’s case to be heard at the Court of Appeal is a huge moment for Christian freedoms and the freedom of any employee to be able to express opposition to LGBT+ ideology without fear of losing their jobs,” she said. 

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