Palm cross row ends

19th April 2011'Polar Ford are donating Easter Eggs to the poorly kiddiwinks on the children's ward.' Pictured L/R: Sharon Pears with Zeb Bell.''PICTURE: MATTHEW PAGE
19th April 2011'Polar Ford are donating Easter Eggs to the poorly kiddiwinks on the children's ward.' Pictured L/R: Sharon Pears with Zeb Bell.''PICTURE: MATTHEW PAGE

CHRISTIAN electrician Colin Atkinson has been told he can keep his palm cross in his company van.

A religious row erupted last week after Mr Atkinson of Horbury feared he would be sacked by his employer Wakefield and District Housing (WDH) after refusing to remove it from his dashboard.

But after a series of meetings between himself and his employers, he has been told he can keep the cross and his job.

According to the Christian Legal Centre, which supported the 64-year-old’s case, the ordeal was resolved in time for Easter and means he can keep the cross, attached vertically, to the glove compartment of his van.

Mr Atkinson, who attends the Destiny Church in Tuke Grove with wife Geraldine, said: “WDH have been reasonable and supportive in reaching this agreement and are even now assisting in every way for me to have a comfortable return to work, allowing me to be close to my faith and end the matter.”

In a statement released yesterday, WDH said: “Following productive discussions, an option has been put forward by Colin Atkinson to resolve the situation, which is consistent with WDH policy and our organisational values. This has been agreed by WDH.”

The conflict started last year after the company received an anonymous complaint about the palm cross in Mr Atkinson’s van.

Mr Atkinson said he had displayed a palm cross for the past 15 years and disciplinary action was being taken as he failed to respond to a “reasonable management request”.

But it escalated when religious leaders spoke out and a right-wing political group held a demonstration.

Andrea Minichiello Williams from the Christian Legal Centre said: “This case shows what can happen when Christians refuse to give in to threats of intimidation.”