A tribunal has held, at a pre hearing review, that an employee’s genuinely held beliefs that the 9/11 and 7/7 attacks were ‘false flag operations’ sanctioned by the UK and the US and that the approach of the UK government and police to counter terrorism were ‘utter shams’, did not satisfy the test of possessing the requisite ‘cogency and coherence’ to be a philosophical belief within the definition of the pre-Equality Act Religion or Belief Regulations 2003.

In Farrell v South Yorkshire Police Authority, Mr Farrell worked as a ‘principal intelligence analyst’ for the South Yorkshire police authority. He produced a document on ‘strategic threat assessment’ which expressed the views above. He was dismissed as his views were considered to be incompatible with his contract. At a pre hearing review to consider whether his views fell within the definition of ‘philosophical beliefs’ which would be protected from discriminatory treatment, the tribunal judge considered the test set out in Grainger plc v Nicholson and found that, whilst the beliefs were genuinely held and were a genuine belief as to a weighty and substantial aspect of human life and behaviour, they ‘completely failed to meet even a bare minimum standard of coherence and cohesion’.  

Interestingly, the judge in this case did not agree with the police authority’s contention that Mr Farrell’s beliefs were not worthy of respect in a democratic society. The decision does provide some clarity on where the boundaries of ‘philosophical belief’ lie in favour of employers.