Dorset gardener fired 'over anti fox hunting views'
A Dorset man was dismissed from his job at a garden centre because of his anti fox hunting beliefs, an employment tribunal has heard. Joe Hashman, 43, from Shaftesbury was fired from Orchard Park, Gillingham, after he was a witness in two hunting prosecutions, the hearing was told. The centre had told Mr Hashman the vegetable patch he was working was being cut. But he claims he was sacked after clashing with a manager over protests.
Mr Hashman told the Southampton tribunal the owners employed "hunt supporter" Andrew Prater, who he had seen during hunt protests. In July 2009, Mr Hashman was a witness for a prosecution of two landowners charged under the Hunting Act 2004. He wrote about this on his internet blog as well as criticisms of the Gillingham and Shaftesbury Agricultural Show for its "hunting influences".
Mr Prater died in an accident at this show. Mr Hashman was asked not to return to work on the day of the funeral on 3 September 2009, the tribunal heard. Two days previously, he had been a witness for another court case in Scarborough involving the celebrity chef Clarissa Dickson-Wright. Mr Hashman said: "I believe now that my involvement in relation to hunting issues and ultimately my philosophical belief was the reason for my dismissal."
It is just as outrageous for someone to be dismissed for their private views on fox-hunting as it was for someone to be demoted for their private views on gay marriage. What has happened to free speech in this country?