Arthur Redfearn was dismissed in 2004 from his job as a bus driver for Serco after winning a seat on Bradford Council for the British National Party. Mr Redfearn drove people with disabilities around Bradford. He fought a long campaign for Justice with numerous set-backs. This week, however, his perseverance paid off. The European Court of Human Rights has ruled in Mr Redfearn's favour.
The judgement on Tuesday said the law must not only apply to people whose views are "favourably received".
The judges ruled Serco's actions breached the law on Freedom of Assembly and Association because Mr Redfearn was sacked from his job of six months only because of his membership of a political party.
In its judgement, the European court said: "The court was struck by the fact that he had been summarily dismissed following complaints about problems which had never actually occurred, without any apparent consideration being given to the possibility of transferring him to a non-customer facing role.
"In fact, prior to his political affiliation becoming public knowledge, neither service users nor colleagues had complained about Mr Redfearn, who was considered a 'first-class employee'."
The court also said the UK had to “take reasonable and appropriate measures to protect employees, including those with less than one year’s service, from dismissal on grounds of political opinion or affiliation, either through the creation of a further exception to the one-year qualifying period under the 1996 Act or through a freestanding claim for unlawful discrimination on grounds of political opinion or affiliation”.
The judgment added: “A legal system which allowed dismissal from employment solely on account of an employee’s membership of a political party carried with it the potential for abuse and was therefore deficient.”
Patrick Harrington, General Secretary of Solidarity, commented:
"Mr Redfearn has fought a long, hard battle not only for his rights but for the rights of all those who might be discriminated against on political grounds. Serco behaved disgracefully as did two Unions. Both the GMB and Unison sadly campaigned for his dismissal putting their hatred of the BNP above principles of democracy and human rights.
Our Union is unequivocal on this subject – everyone is entitled to have their human rights upheld. We are a libertarian Union. Mr Redfearn is to be congratulated for his determination and resolve. Like him, we will not rest in fighting politically inspired discrimination against workers."
Full judgement here: http://hudoc.echr.coe.int/webservices/content/pdf/001-114240?TID=lfblnuwpqw.