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Pro-life Lib Dem candidate deselected for views including position on abortion

A former BBC journalist is suing the Liberal Democrats on the grounds that he was deselected due to his Christian beliefs, including his views on abortion.

The would-be candidate, David Campanale, has said he was prevented from standing in Sutton and Cheam due to “animosity” by local party members towards his traditional Christian views.

Having previously stood for the Christian People’s Alliance, a political party that has campaigned against abortion, Campanale was accused of failing to sufficiently disclose his views – an accusation he denies.

A petition urging Ann Glaze, Chair of London Liberal Democrats, to reinstate Campanale has now gathered over 20,000 signatories including the Bishop of Guildford, The Rt Revd Andrew Watson.

According to reports, this is the first time that a political party has faced legal action on the grounds of discrimination against someone’s Christian faith and comes despite the fact that Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey had previously made assurances that he would take on “illiberal” groups who want to remove those with traditional Christian views out of the party.

Campanale’s case is being supported by a document relating to former Labour MP Rob Flello who defected to the Liberal Democrats but was subsequently deselected, reportedly for his Christian views. Allegedly, the document reveals an unofficial policy of discriminating against people with traditional Christian views such as opposition to abortion and euthanasia.

A local councillor, Luke Taylor, has been selected as the Liberal Democrat candidate for Sutton and Cheam in Campanale’s place. Reportedly, Taylor, who came third behind Campanale in the original selection, is at the centre of efforts to remove the former BBC journalist.

Taylor allegedly told Campanale that he “did not have any right to a conscience based on his Christian faith on any subject of policy”.

Discrimination against pro-lifers

When he was first selected in December 2021, Campanale alleges a campaign quickly began to remove him “motivated primarily by animosity” to his Christian beliefs. Though the complaints were dismissed, court documents reveal the complaints included that Campanale “has made contributions defending Christian values”.

Campanale’s legal claim alleges that party rules were not followed in the deselection process and that the “true motivation” was his religious beliefs, which are protected under equality laws.

While this is the first instance of a would-be candidate taking legal action against a political party for discrimination allegedly motivated at least in part by his pro-life views, MPs have had to face discrimination in regard to this issue in other instances.

Former SNP MP, Dr Lisa Cameron, defected to the Conservative Party in 2023 due to “toxic and bullying” treatment from her colleagues. She had previously faced death threats and potential deselection from her party for holding pro-life views.

Spokesperson for Right To Life UK, Catherine Robinson, said “What has happened to Campanale is deeply disturbing. As well as the injustice of discriminating against an individual for holding pro-life views, there is the additional injustice that it becomes less likely that the pro-life view is heard at all”.

Polling reveals that the British population are far more pro-life than many people think. Only 1% of women support introducing abortion up to birth and 70% of women would support a reduction in the time limit from 24 weeks to 20 weeks or below. 91% of women also oppose sex-selective abortion. The same polling showed 60% of both Conservative and Labour voters supported a reduction in the time limit to 20 weeks or below. 65% of Liberal Democrat voters were in favour of a reduction to 20 weeks or below”.

Dear reader,

Ahead of the General Election on 4 July, do you want to find out where your local MP candidates stand on abortion?

You can find out now using our Vote For Both Lives tool, which you can access by clicking the button below.