An Employment Tribunal has decided that an ex-BBC employee’s belief in the higher purpose of public service broadcasting (in promoting cultural interchange and social cohesion amongst other things) amounted to a philosophical belief, and deserved the protection of the Religion or Belief Regulations.
In doing so, they followed the key tests for protection which have been set out in previous cases. They held that this was a genuinely held belief, as opposed to a viewpoint or an opinion (commentary from leading academics and the Director General of the BBC helped establish this).
Further, the Tribunal held that this was a weighty and substantial belief (as opposed to a mere mission statement, as argued by the BBC) and went beyond an unprotected political belief.
It will be interesting to see whether this decision survives the appeal process. It illustrates how easy it potentially is to invoke Regulations protection of philosophical beliefs.
In a separate case, in the past few weeks, another Employment Tribunal has held that a general belief in the sanctity of life, extending to a fervent belief in anti-foxhunting and anti-hare coursing can also be protected.