Gay couple end hotel payout claim
Published 11/03/2011 | 12:22
A homosexual couple who successfully sued the Christian owners of a hotel who refused them a bed are withdrawing a claim for more compensation, the Equality and Human Rights Commission has confirmed.
Peter and Hazelmary Bull were ordered to pay £3,600 for denying Martyn Hall and his civil partner Steven Preddy a double room at their B&B in Cornwall in September 2008.
In the landmark ruling in January at Bristol County Court, Judge Andrew Rutherford awarded Mr Preddy, 38, and Mr Hall, 46, who were represented by the taxpayer-funded EHRC, £1,800 each.
He said he took into account the fact the Bulls were acting on their "genuine" Christian beliefs about marriage when deciding the level of damages.
Lawyers for the gay couple then submitted documents to the Court of Appeal claiming the religious beliefs of Mr and Mrs Bull should have been disregarded, calling for the damages to be increased.
But the EHRC has now said the cross appeal was an "error of judgment" by its legal team and is being withdrawn.
Legal director John Wadham said: "They submitted the cross appeal in an attempt to clarify the law around how damages are calculated in cases such as this.
"This resulted in it appearing that Steve Preddy and Martyn Hall were seeking to increase the amount of damages they receive because Mr and Mrs Bull's Christian beliefs had led them to break the law. This was not our intention and it was certainly not the intention of Steve and Martyn."
Mr Preddy and Mr Hall said: "We brought this case to clarify the law, not to make money. We have always believed that the original award was a fair one, and are not seeking any further compensation."
The Bulls denied the original claim, saying they have a long-standing policy of banning all unmarried couples from sharing a bed at the Chymorvah Private Hotel in Marazion near Penzance. Their legal bills, which are believed to have been in excess of £45,000, were footed by the Newcastle-based Christian Institute.