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Magistrate disciplined for not hearing same-sex parenting case

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A magistrate has been given a formal warning for misconduct, after she declined to adjudicate on a same-sex parenting case.

The Judicial Conduct Investigations Office ordered Susan Preston to stand down from hearing future family cases, after she declined to sit on a case involving same-sex parenting due to her personal views.

It follows the story of Christian Legal Centre client Richard Page, who was removed from the magistracy after he said during an adoption case that a child’s best interests lie with being placed with a married mother and father.

Richard Page is challenging his removal from the magistracy, as well as his barring from his position as a non-executive director on an NHS Trust.

'Amounted to misconduct'

Susan Preston has served as a Justice of the Peace in South Derbyshire for 16 years.

In a statement, a JCIO spokesman said: "Mrs Susan Preston JP, a magistrate assigned to the South Derbyshire Bench, has been issued with a formal warning following an investigation into her conduct.

"Mrs Preston had declined to adjudicate on a case in the Family Court because of her personal views about same sex couple parenting.

"The Lord Chancellor and Lord Chief Justice considered that this amounted to misconduct and have issued Mrs Preston with a formal warning."

He added: "Mrs Preston has also been asked to stand down from the family panel with immediate effect."

Mrs Preston declined to comment.

'This exclusion is dangerous for society'

Commenting on Susan Preston's case, Andrea Williams, Chief Executive of the Christian Legal Centre, said: "If you hold the belief that marriage is between a man and woman and that children need a mother and father you are punished."

"Richard Page, who was an experienced magistrate, was removed from the bench simply for expressing a view that he believed was in the best interests of the child. Now, this lady has been forced to step down from the family panel despite 16 years of experience as a JP.

"Christians in positions of public office are motivated by the love of Christ to bring positive change. But if this kind of punishment for holding certain views continues, we will see more Christians effectively barred from public service. This kind of exclusion is dangerous for society and must be stopped."

Speaking to Premier Radio she added: "She evidently believes that children are best raised with a mother and father... It's important that members of the judiciary that believe that don't lose their positions. It's really important that they stay on and look at family cases."


Related Links: 
Magistrate disciplined after refusing to hear same-sex parenting case (Telegraph)  
Christian 'driven from public service' after saying that children ideally need mother and father 
Chistian Legal Centre client case page: Richard Page