Press Release

70,000 call on Barclays Bank to reinstate Christian charities’ account

26 July 2023         Issued by: Christian Concern

As heads roll at Natwest in the wake of the Nigel Farage banking discrimination scandal, a Christian therapist whose legal case began the wave of front-page news on the issue, continues to wait for an apology and reinstatement of his account by Barclays Bank bosses.

In June, news broke that Barclays had been forced to pay-out over £20,000 in compensation plus legal costs after it capitulated to LGBT activists and closed a Christian ministry’s bank account in a case of viewpoint discrimination.

Core Issues Trust (CIT) and the International Federation for Therapeutic and Counselling Choice (IFTCC), were notified in July 2020 that their banking facilities with top-ranking Stonewall employer, Barclays, would be stopped, following a coordinated harassment campaign.

At this time, CIT received over 300 nuisance phone calls and other intimidating messages, including a text to its chief executiveDr Mike Davidson, which expressed a hope that staff and family members would be raped and killed.

As the headline sponsor of London’s gay pride parade that summer, Barclays bowed to pressure and closed the charities’ accounts without giving any reason. Supported by the Christian Legal Centre, Dr Davidson launched legal action on the grounds of unlawful discrimination.

Following a lengthy legal battle, news of the settlement broke in The Times on the 28 June 2023 and the following day Nigel Farage announced  that he too had been discriminated against by his bank, Coutts.

As well as cancelling Mr Farage’s account, Coutts, like Barclays, are extremely supportive of LGBT Pride as seen in their expensive display outside of their HQ in London.

Then the Rev. Richard Fothergill also revealed to the media that he had had his bank account closed for politely opposing Yorkshire Building Society’s promotion of transgender ideology.

The issue has continued to snowball with even the current Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, revealing that Monzo denied him an account.

Conservative MP, Jacob Rees-Mogg, who interviewed Dr Davidson following the case outcome, has said he will table an anti-discrimination law that would prevent banks from blocking accounts over customers’ political views.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak followed this up in Parliament stating that: “It wouldn’t be right if financial services were being denied to anyone exercising their right to lawful free speech.”

Dramatically, last night, the CEO of Natwest, Alison Rose resigned over handling of Mr Farage’s case and the BBC apologised for how they had reported on the story.  The apology to Mr Farage came after the Treasury announced plans to subject UK banks to stricter rules over closing customer accounts.

Despite this, Barclays Bank has continued to refuse to say why they closed Dr Davidson’s account, or to apologise, or reinstate his account.

70,000 people via a CitizenGo petition have called on Barclays Bank to respect Christian freedoms and to reinstate Dr Davidson’s account, but to no avail.

Dr Mike Davidson said: “We are looking into options for how we can continue to hold Barclays to account and will press on to find out why they took the decisions they did. It is clear that anyone who does not bow down and pledge allegiance to the Pride flag could have their account closed and be forced to become a ‘non-person’ in this country.

“I am very encouraged by what has happened in recent weeks on this issue since we broke the news of this case against Barclays. There were times when I thought this was just happening to us, but now it has been exposed how far reaching this issue is. The issue of how banks are suppressing Christian freedoms, however, must not be forgotten.

“We will continue to speak out and support the freedom of individuals to voluntarily seek professional or pastoral care to change identities and behaviours. This is not a matter that banking corporations should to seek to control, influence or suppress.

“We call on Mr Hammerstein and Barclays Bank to now fully apologise to me, Core Issues Trust and IFTCC and to reinstate the accounts.”

Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, said: It is now high time, especially following recent revelations, that Barclays apologise and reinstate the accounts.

“This was an orchestrated campaign by LGBT activists targeting a Christian ministry and Barclays fell for it.

“Rather than standing up for free speech, Christian freedom, and minority rights, Barclays Bank Plc surrendered to the intimidatory tactics of LGBT activists.

“If banks and other service providers placate hardened activists by removing bank accounts from good and law-abiding customers who are being targeted because of their Christian faith then we’re in a very dark place in this country.”

Background to the case

CIT is a non-profit Christian ministry, based in Northern Ireland, that supports men and women who voluntarily seek change in their sexual preference, expression and/or gender identity. It is the only Christian ministry of its kind in the UK, and a registered charity.

The incident is believed to be a precursor to how activists and institutions will exploit and weaponise the government’s ‘conversion therapy’ ban against anyone that supports the freedom to leave LGBT lifestyles and identity.

Barclays appeared to have capitulated to demands to cancel the accounts after sustained pressure was placed on them for providing banking services to the Christian groups while also being the headline sponsor for London’s Gay Pride parade. During this time, CIT also lost its Mail Chimp, PayPal and Facebook and other social accounts, none of which have been recovered.

On 3 July 2020, LGBT activist Mike Buonaiuto posted on Twitter: “EXCLUSIVE: @Pridelnlondon headline sponsor; @Barclays, are currently enabling UK Gay #ConversionTherapy organisation; @CoreTrust, with a bank account for donations here: to-core … This vile org is still a tax deductible charity in the UK. The government must act.”

He followed up this tweet with: “All #LGBTQ organisations can hopefully weigh in on @Barclays for an answer – who, in turn, can weigh in on the government &  @trussliz , to change the laws & criminalise gay conversion therapy in the UK. @stonewalluk @northernprideuk @UKPrideNetwork.”

Furthermore, he posted: “Our research has shown @Barclays hands may be very much tied until it’s made illegal. Hence the urgency to criminalise.”

At this time, CIT received over 300 nuisance phone calls and other intimidating messages, including a text to its chief executive, Dr Mike Davidson, which expressed a hope that staff and family members would be raped and killed.

Threatening calls and emails went on for days, until on 13 July 2020, Dr Davidson received a letter from Barclays Bank which simply read: “After careful consideration we’ve taken the decision to close your account and all facilities on 14 September 2020.”

Until this moment Dr Davidson, like his father before him, had banked with Barclays his whole life. In 2011 when he opened the accounts for CIT and in 2017 for IFTCC, their business had received a ‘warm welcome’.

Buonaiuto followed up his previous tweet by posting on 25 July with a Pride flag symbol: “With your help, @Barclays have, this week, closed the bank account facilitating £100k in donations for the UK’s leading Gay #ConversionTherapy org. Thank you. But, this practice remains legal in the UK. It’s time to #BanConversionTherapy.”

‘Unlawful discrimination’

Supported by the Christian Legal Centre, Dr Davidson launched a legal claim against the bank with lawyers stating that the closure of the accounts was ‘an act of unlawful discrimination.’

Lawyers argued that the bank had discriminated against Dr Davidson personally, in that his professional and public work was undermined by the withdrawal of banking services from CIT and IFTCC on the grounds of his religious beliefs and/or political opinion.

Dr Davidson sought compensation  for loss and damages arising out Barclays’ breach of the Northern Irish Fair Treatment Order, primarily for the Charity’s financial losses.

Over 72,000 people signed a petition calling on Barclays to reinstate the account and to stop discriminating against the Christian ministry.

Throughout the lengthy legal battle, however, Barclays Bank refused to apologise, reinstate either bank account or give a reason for closing it.

The multi-billion-pound corporation also made a number of spurious attempts to have the case thrown out.

Pressed on why the account had been closed, lawyers representing Barclays cited Clause 9.4 of its Terms and Conditions which state: “We can close an account (and stop providing any services and end this agreement) by giving you at least two months ‘ notice. In accordance with the Terms and Conditions, the Bank has exercised its contractual right to close the Business Accounts, upon giving two months’ notice.

“It is wholly denied, and you have failed to evidence, that the Bank has discriminated against your clients either directly or indirectly on the grounds of any religious, philosophical or political belief protected by the Fair Employment and Treatment (Northern Ireland) Order 1998.”

This week, however, before the case was due to the be heard at the High Court, Barclays made a settlement offer of £21,500 in compensation with legal costs to follow, which Dr Davidson has accepted.

Since this incident in 2020, similar cases of viewpoint discrimination involving the withdrawal of services by financial outlets have followed.

Writing in the Times, former Supreme Court judge, Lord Sumption, has called for greater protections over access to finance systems and described, for example the actions of PayPal cancelling the Free Speech Union’s account, as an: “Ugly incident [which] should not be forgotten. It reveals the vulnerability of even the most respectable pressure groups to arbitrary action by those who, for whatever reason, object to their message. PayPal may have backed down, but this problem is not going to go away.”

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