Hereford & Worcester

Worcester vicar loses unfair dismissal appeal

Reverend Mark Sharpe Image copyright bbc
Image caption The Reverend Mark Sharpe's dog was poisoned

A vicar who claimed he was the victim of a four-year campaign of hate has lost his case at the Court of Appeal.

The Reverend Mark Sharpe, of Hanley Broadheath, near Worcester, said he was seeking to claim for unfair dismissal after disturbances in 2009.

The Bishop of Worcester, the Rt Revd Dr John Inge, said the Church of England was "delighted".

Unite said it was "bitterly disappointed" and called the ruling "somewhat perverse".

Rev Sharpe says he was driven out of his parish in Worcestershire after his dog was poisoned, his car tyres slashed and his post tampered with.

His case reached the appeal court after tribunals split over whether he could legally be categorised as an employee or a worker.

Mr Sharpe argued he was employed by the Bishop of Worcester and therefore entitled to protection by legislation, including the 1996 Employment Rights Act.

The Church said he was not an employee but a "religious office holder" under ecclesiastical law.

Dr Inge said: "Clergy have consistently said that they don't wish to change their status as office holders.

"To become employees, clergy would lose the freedoms which are at the heart of the Church's ministry and this is not something that they want to give up."

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