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Christian officer 'failed by police'

PUBLISHED: 11:15 01 December 2008 | UPDATED: 12:25 03 July 2010

A religious leader has written to Norfolk police complaining about the dismissal of a Christian officer found guilty of misconduct after he expressed his anti-gay beliefs.

A religious leader has written to Norfolk police complaining about the dismissal of a Christian officer found guilty of misconduct after he expressed his anti-gay beliefs.

The Rev Martin Young, vicar at St Andrew's Church in Norwich, sent an open letter to the force's professional standards department. It follows last week's decision to sack PC Graham Cogman, from Sea Palling, after he was found to have failed to comply with a lawful order over the use of force computers and failure to treat colleagues with politeness and tolerance.

But last night police spokesman Anne Campbell said the issue was “not about Mr Cogman's beliefs but about his behaviour” after he ignored repeated warnings.

She added that the force would not publicly discuss the evidence unless Mr Cogman chose to do so.

It was the latest in a series of disciplinary procedures to be brought against him. He had previously been banned from using computer messaging systems and fined for expressing his opposition to the promotion of homosexuality.

Deputy chief constable Ian Learmonth said: “It should be borne in mind that the police service, as well as welcoming people regardless of their beliefs, race, gender, age or sexual orientation, is also a disciplined organisation.

“Those who are not prepared to abide by our high standards of behaviour and be subject to lawful orders are not suitable for the service.”

On one occasion Mr Cogman quoted the phrase “Love the sinner, hate the deed” in an email to a gay liaison officer; on another he forwarded an internet link to an American organisation offering to “cure” homosexuality.

Mr Young said: “Norfolk constabulary has manifestly failed to uphold PC Cogman's right to express his Christian faith. His views are not extreme or unusual. They are consistent with the published understanding of the Church of England, of which he is a member.

“The phrase 'Love the sinner, hate the deed' is a common Christian aphorism which encapsulates the Christian's duty to love all people, regardless of their lifestyle choices. This is presumably also what the service intend to convey in their diversity policy.

“It is rather shocking that in this day of plural society and concern for minorities that PC Cogman's own complaints have not been listened to. It is exceedingly inappropriate for a Christian officer to be pressurised to promote a lifestyle choice that contradicts his faith.

“PC Cogman made measured responses in a spirit of openness and honesty, and for this he should be lauded, not punished. The order he was given may have been lawful, but it was repressive and intolerant.”

Mr Cogman began sending the emails after receiving messages from gay officers encouraging staff to wear a pink ribbon on their uniforms to promote Gay History Month. He claims he was bombarded with pro-gay messages and said the force had become “obsessed with inclusiveness to the detriment of Christian beliefs”.

The dismissal followed a thorough investigation and the misconduct panel of three people included two who were independent of the force. Mr Cogman has the right to appeal the decision.

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