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Last Updated: Saturday, 25 November 2006, 01:28 GMT
Bishop welcomes BA uniform review
Nadia Eweida
Nadia Eweida said the review was "a big relief"
The Bishop of London has welcomed a review of uniform policy by British Airways in the wake of a row over a worker ordered to stop wearing a cross.

The Rt Rev Richard Chartres said he took his "hat off" to Nadia Eweida for standing up for the British tradition of free expression.

Ms Eweida had lost her appeal against a decision banning her from wearing the cross visibly at the check-in counter.

The airline said it had to reconsider "in the light of the public debate".

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's PM programme, the Bishop of London paid tribute to Ms Eweida.

He said: "I hope in some ways that this story is going to encourage more people to wear their cross to stand up in public for the historic faith of this country because they can certainly do so in a way that protects the rights of others as well as Christians.

"There is something of an anxiety about intolerant secularism in our country and I think this is a very important blow and hats off to Nadia Eweida."


He added: "Whether the Church has played a part in changing the mind of BA I don't know, but certainly it's extremely welcome news."

The criticism of British Airways has been misplaced and unjustified
British Airways chief executive Willie Walsh

The airline's chief executive Willie Walsh said BA would now consider allowing religious symbols worn as lapel badges.

But, he said it was unfair that BA had been accused of being anti-Christian.

Mr Walsh said: "The criticism of British Airways has been misplaced and unjustified.

"I am proud to lead an airline that has a track record on diversity and inclusion which is second to none."

BBC Home Editor Mark Easton said the airline had been forced to change its policy because of mounting pressure from MPs, religious leaders and the press.

Ms Eweida, 55, from London, said she was effectively forced to take unpaid leave after refusing to hide the cross symbol she wore round her neck when people of other faiths were allowed to wear visible religious symbols such as headscarves.

She has been refusing to return to work since the ban and earlier this week lost an appeal against the decision.

After Mr Walsh's announcement of a policy review she said: "If they are going to review the policy and allow Christians their place in the workforce then that is a big relief."


Among the high-profile figures to criticise the airline's policy were the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, and the Leader of the House of Commons, Jack Straw, who said the ban on crosses was "inexplicable".

And on Friday the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams said: "If BA is really saying or implying that the wearing of a cross in public is a source of offence, then I regard that as deeply offensive."

BA said Ms Eweida had been offered a non-uniformed post where she would be able to openly wear her cross but had refused to take it.

How protests against BA have gathered pace

Cross ban 'inexplicable' - Straw
23 Nov 06 |  UK Politics
Archbishop attacks BA cross rules
21 Nov 06 |  North Yorkshire
Woman to sue BA in necklace row
15 Oct 06 |  London


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