Barred gay couple drop claim for more hotel compensation

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A HOMOSEXUAL couple who successfully sued the Christian owners of a hotel who refused them a bed are withdrawing a claim for more compensation, the Equality and Human Rights Commission said yesterday.

Peter and Hazelmary Bull were ordered to pay £3,600 for denying Martyn Hall and his civil partner Steven Preddy a double room at their B&B in Cornwall in September 2008. In the landmark ruling in January at Bristol County Court, Judge Andrew Rutherford awarded Mr Preddy, 38, and Mr Hall, 46, who were represented by the taxpayer-funded Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), £1,800 each.

He said he took into account the fact the couple were acting on their “genuine” Christian beliefs about marriage when deciding the level of damages.

Lawyers for the gay couple then submitted documents to the Court of Appeal claiming the religious beliefs of Mr and Mrs Bull should have been disregarded, calling for the damages to be increased. But yesterday the EHRC said the cross appeal was an “error of judgment” by its legal team and was being withdrawn.

Mr Preddy and Mr Hall said: “We brought this case to clarify the law, not to make money.

“We have always believed that the original award was a fair one, and are not seeking any further compensation.”

Mr Bull, 70, and his wife, 66, denied the original claim, saying they have a long-standing policy of banning all unmarried couples, both heterosexual and gay, from sharing a bed at the Chymorvah Private Hotel in Marazion near Penzance.