A mental health worker in the UK who was sacked for giving a work colleague a pro-life booklet has settled her legal action against the NHS out of court.
Margaret Forrester (pictured), a Catholic, give the colleague the booklet which highlighted the potential physical and psychological damage some women suffer after an abortion. Miss Forrester was told that the leaflet amounted to “offensive” material.
Miss Forrester, 40, from Battersea, south London, lodged a High Court action against her former employer, the North West London NHS Trust, accusing it of breaching her human rights.
She argued that the NHS had become “dangerously totalitarian” on the issue of abortion because critical viewpoints are not permitted at work.
She was also due to go to an employment tribunal later this year alleging unfair dismissal, religious discrimination and religious harassment.
But the Thomas More Legal Centre, the charity representing Miss Forrester, has now announced that both cases had been settled for an undisclosed sum.
Under the terms of the deal neither side can disclose details of the settlement but the trust said it had paid out a “a fraction” of what the case would have cost the NHS had it come to court.
It continued to insist that the booklet, called Forsaken, in which women who have abortions speak of regrets, offered an “unbalanced and one-sided view”.
A spokesman for the Centre said: “Margaret Forrester wishes to thank all those many people who have supported her and prayed for her throughout this difficult time and in particular has said that she wants to thank the Thomas More Legal Centre for its support and work on her behalf.”
He added: “The Thomas More Legal Centre is privileged to have been able to represent Margaret Forrester in this important case and stands ready to support any other NHS employee who may find themselves being threatened for expressing religious or pro-life views.”
The dispute began in November 2010 after an informal conversation with a colleague at a GPs’ surgery in which Miss Forrester voiced concerns that pregnant women were routinely being offered abortions rather than counselling.
A week later she was summoned for a meeting with managers about the booklet she handed over.
She insisted that she did not regret giving her colleague the leaflet and was accused of insubordination.