Barclays Bank has agreed to make a payment of £21,500 ($27,176) as compensation to the Core Issues Trust, a Christian ministry situated in Northern Ireland, following the bank’s sudden closure of the ministry’s account in July 2020. The bank’s move came amidst allegations that it had succumbed to pressure from online LGBT activists, who accused the trust of engaging in conversion therapy.
The start of the incident occurred in mid-2020 when a Twitter user highlighted the accounts associated with the Core Issues Trust and the International Federation for Therapeutic and Counselling Choice. The tweet triggered a barrage of over 300 phone calls and messages, lasting for days, directed at the ministry. Among them was a disconcerting text to Dr. Mike Davidson, the ministry’s chief executive, which contained despicable wishes towards his staff members’ families, The Times reported.
Dr. Davidson, who had been a lifelong customer of Barclays and had opened accounts for the Core Issues Trust and the counseling federation in 2011 and 2017 respectively, received a letter from Barclays on July 13, 2020, notifying him of the termination of his account.
Alleging that this action amounted to illegal discrimination, Dr. Davidson enlisted the support of the Christian Legal Centre to initiate a lawsuit against Barclays. The legal representatives argued that the cessation of banking services for both the trust and the federation unjustly compromised Dr. Davidson’s professional and public endeavors based on his religious convictions and political viewpoints.
This legal tussle captured public attention, and a petition urging Barclays to restore the accounts and cease the alleged discrimination against the Christian ministry amassed over 70,000 signatures. Nonetheless, Barclays stood its ground, declining to either reinstate the accounts or issue an apology. The bank maintained that it had exercised its contractual prerogative to terminate accounts with two months’ notice and vehemently refuted any allegations of discrimination based on religious, philosophical, or political beliefs.
As the case was slated to be adjudicated at the High Court, Barclays proposed a settlement of £21,500, plus legal expenses, which Dr. Davidson accepted. It is imperative to note that this resolution did not include the restoration of the bank accounts, nor did Barclays tender an apology or concede liability.
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