London

NHS Christian worker loses appeal after 'giving book to Muslim colleague'

Victoria Wasteney
Image caption Miss Wasteney says she had "no idea" she was upsetting her Muslim colleague

A Christian health worker in the NHS has lost her appeal against a ruling which suspended her after she gave a religious book to a Muslim colleague.

Victoria Wasteney, 39, was found guilty in 2014 by her employer, the East London NHS Foundation Trust, of "harassing and bullying" a work friend.

She had given her a book about a Muslim woman's encounter with Christianity and asked her to church.

Miss Wasteney said she had "no idea" she was upsetting her.

Appeal dismissed

A formal disciplinary investigation made eight allegations of misconduct against Miss Wasteney and she was later found guilty of three charges.

Working as a senior occupational therapist at the time, Miss Wasteney, who also prayed with her colleague, was suspended for nine months and given a written warning for "harassing and bullying" her.

She said her colleague had been happy to discuss faith with her. Although the woman did give evidence in person at the hearing, she had outlined her complaints in an eight-page letter to the NHS.

Miss Wasteney challenged the decision at an employment tribunal last year, but it ruled her employer had not discriminated against her.

A judge gave her the chance to appeal against that decision, saying it should consider whether the original ruling correctly applied the European Convention on Human Rights' strong protection of freedom of religion and expression.

But Judge Jennifer Eady QC dismissed the appeal on Thursday.

Following the decision, Miss Wasteney, from Epping, Essex, said: "What the court clearly failed to do was to say how, in today's politically correct world, any Christian can even enter into a conversation with a fellow employee on the subject of religion and not, potentially, later end up in an employment tribunal.

"If someone sends you friendly text messages, how is one to know that they are offended?"

Update 4 August 2016: This story has been amended to give more background detail on the original complaint against Miss Wasteney.

Related Topics

More on this story