Minister resigns from Killinchy school board, High Court hears

Minister resigns from Killinchy school board, High Court hears

9 June 2021

A CLERGYMAN who took legal action against Killinchy Primary School is to resign from its board of governors, the High Court heard last week.

The Rev Stanley Gamble, who is the Church of Ireland rector in Killinchy, announced his decision to step down with immediate effect as his case against the school was settled.

Earlier this year he secured an interim injunction to halt an internal investigation into a complaint about events at a board meeting where proposed relationships and sexuality education (RSE) was discussed.

At that time a judge restrained any further disciplinary proceedings until the action was determined.

But in court on Friday Mr Justice Shaw was informed that a confidential resolution has been reached in proceedings against the school’s board of governors.

As part of the settlement Mr Gamble’s barrister, Alistair Fletcher, read out a statement on his behalf.

In it he stressed that despite commentary in the media and on social networks, the litigation was not about RSE.

The clergyman stated: “Contrary to what may have been reported in some media, I wish to be clear that I am in favour of the provision of RSE at Killinchy Primary School so long as it accords with the ethos of the school”.

He went on to confirm: “After much consideration I have decided to resign from the board of governors at Killinchy Primary School with immediate effect.”

Mr Gamble said he enjoyed his time on the body and thanked those he served with for their support over the years.

He added: “However, in light of the recent resignations of a number of other governors it seems to me that it is the appropriate time to move on and for new governors to be appointed to take the school forward.

“I wish the new governors the very best with their future endeavours.”

According to counsel for the board of governors the case related to circumstances which also affected individuals “who do not have a voice before the court”.

Mr Martin Wolfe QC said: “It is appropriate that these matters have been and will continue to be addressed tactfully and sensitively.

“The settlement of these proceedings can be regarded as a welcome development and as being in the best interests of all concerned.”

A previous court heard the complaint made by the school’s principal, Mr Chris Currie, related to events at a board meeting in January 2020.

At the time it had been announced that RSE lessons were being postponed amid concerns raised by some parents.

During the meeting where RSE was discussed Mr Gamble was allegedly at times unwilling to listen.

Denying the complaint made against him, the clergyman challenged the fairness of the procedure undertaken to examine the claims.

His legal team argued it was wrong for three other governors who are witnesses to sit on a sub-committee set up to look into the disputed allegations.

They contended that the whole process was tainted by apparent bias.

Mr Gamble’s application for a full injunction was listed for hearing today.

But after the settlement was announced, Mr Justice Shaw told the parties: “I commend you for achieving such a satisfactory resolution.”