Scottish independence as a protected philosophical belief? McEleny round two

The Herald on Sunday reports that the Ministry of Defence has been given permission to appeal against the tribunal judgment that concluded that belief in independence for Scotland could amount to a philosophical belief for the purposes of s.13 Equality Act 2010.

Readers will recall that Chris McEleny, the SNP group leader on Inverclyde Council, was working as an electrician at the MoD plant in Beith, North Ayrshire, when he announced his bid to become his party’s Deputy Leader. After the leadership hustings began, the MoD revoked his security clearance and suspended him from his job. The MoD’s National Security Vetting branch then questioned him on his suitability for clearance and he alleged that a number of political issues were raised, including his anti-Trident position, his social media activity in relation to Irish politics and a speech that he had given at his party’s conference in 2012. His security clearance was subsequently reinstated but he resigned and took the MoD to an employment tribunal; and in Mr C McEleny v Ministry of Defence [2018] UKET S/4105347/2017, Employment Judge Eccles held that his belief in Scottish independence amounted to a philosophical belief under s.10(3) and could therefore be relied upon as a protected characteristic in order to claim direct discrimination under s.13. We noted the case at some length, here.

According to the Herald on Sunday, what it describes as a “reconsideration hearing” is due to take place shortly. Aamer Anwar, Mr McEleny’s legal adviser, expressed dismay at the decision, while the MoD declined to comment further.


As we said previously, if candidature for the Deputy Leadership of the SNP is seen by the MoD as a potential security issue, does it regard the present Scottish Government as a collective security risk? And if it does, what price boring old notions like democracy and the rule of law?

Cite this article as: Frank Cranmer, "Scottish independence as a protected philosophical belief? McEleny round two" in Law & Religion UK, 15 October 2018,

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