Press Release

‘Cancelled’ Christian actress to appeal tribunal ruling and unprecedented legal costs

31 March 2021         Issued by: Christian Legal Centre

A Christian actress will appeal an employment tribunal ruling which upheld her being ‘cancelled’ and hounded out of her promising career for an historic Facebook post.

Seyi Omooba, 26, was removed from a lead role in a musical production of ‘The Color Purple’ after a four-year-old Facebook post came to light which quoted the Bible and gently expressed a Christian view of sexuality.

Supported by the Christian Legal Centre, Miss Omooba challenged Leicester Curve Theatre, which was to hold the production, and Global Artists Agency, which refused to act for her following the controversy, for discrimination and breach of contract.

In February 2021, the employment tribunal ruled in favour of the theatre and agency in a decision which Miss Omooba is now challenging.

Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre explained, “The tribunal ruled that the theatre and agency had acted for commercial reasons rather than because they intended to discriminate. The judgment ignores the distinction, well-known in discrimination law, between the discriminatory act and the discriminator’s motives. The motives may be entirely benign; but that is no defence.”

Unheard of legal costs

This week, the tribunal also, in principle, awarded costs against Miss Omooba in excess of £350,000 to be paid to the theatre and agent.

Andrea Williams said, “An employment tribunal is meant to be a cost-free forum. For the other side to apply for and have granted a £350,000 costs order is unprecedented and deliberately punitive. It is designed to frighten and put off others from seeking justice.

“The costs they are asking for are 15 times more than the usual costs of defending a tribunal case, which is rather difficult to square with their premise that her case was so hopeless that it was unreasonable for her to pursue it.”

These costs will be assessed at a later date. Miss Omooba will also be appealing the decision.

Respondents ‘muddied the waters’

During the case and subsequent reporting, questions were raised over whether Seyi had read the script and what may have happened had she remained in the role. In a new article for Christian Concern, Andrea Williams explains that lawyers for the theatre and agency were successful in muddying the waters of public perception about why Seyi was dismissed.

She writes: “at the time of her dismissal nobody knew or cared whether Seyi had read the script, and whether she would be willing to play the character as a lesbian one. All the decision-makers knew or cared about were her Christian beliefs, as evidenced by her four-year-old Facebook post, which she refused to retract.”

‘We are not intimidated’

Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, said, “Despite how the theatre and agency lawyers have tried to spin this case, it is undeniable that Seyi’s claim raises difficult and important issues about the intolerance of Christian beliefs on human sexuality in today’s society.

“Lawyers for the theatre and agency falsely insinuate a vexatious campaign by Christian Concern when all we have sought to do is serve Seyi and the truth.”

“The Tribunal has effectively joined the campaign of ‘cancelling’ Seyi for her Christian beliefs. She and we are not intimidated and we have now lodged an appeal.”

Notes to editors:

Andrea Williams’ full article explaining her views on the case can be read on the Christian Concern website.

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