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Hopes of compromise over cross in van

26 April 2011

Hopes have been raised that a dispute between a Christian training officer and a housing association over the display of a small cross in a company van could soon be settled.

The dispute between Colin Atkinson and privately run Wakefield and District Housing (WDH) has received widespread media coverage and led last week to a BNP protest outside the housing association’s headquarters.

The Christian Legal Centre issued a statement on Easter Day saying that Atkinson was rejoicing after his employers “agreed to allow him to continue to keep the cross he has displayed for 15 years in the cockpit of his van”.

A spokeswoman said Atkinson was “under threat of disciplinary action after one anonymous complaint from a WDH tenant, who suggested that the cross might offend other faiths.

“The Christian was put under huge pressure to remove the cross from his van after he refused and was told he may face the sack – just one year off retirement.”

Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, added that “when faced with a calm rationale by Christians” many employers would see sense.

However, the housing association said a formal compromise between the parties was yet to be achieved.

“There has been no change in our policy, nor will there be,” a spokesman for WDH said.

“Our policy is clear. Employees are not allowed to display personal items of any kind in company, liveried vehicles. That has been our policy for a long time.”

The spokesman said Atkinson had not been threatened with disciplinary procedures or dismissal.

“In the light of recent developments, Mr Atkinson came back to us with a fresh compromise which we have considered. We have asked him to come to us with an official acceptance in writing, but he has yet to do that.”

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