A nurse who offered a bible to a cancer patient and encouraged him to sing The Lord is My Shepherd was fairly dismissed, a court has ruled.
Sarah Kuteh was given the sack from her job at Darent Valley Hospital in Dartford, Kent, in 2016 for repeatedly talking to patients about her faith and handing out a bible.
Her actions were found to be in breach of Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) rules.
A ruling, published last week by the Court of Appeal, revealed how on June 3, 2016 a cancer patient at the hospital had complained about Ms Kuteh's conduct.
The court heard how the patient likened the incident to a 'Monty Python skit'.
In what he said was a 'very bizarre' encounter, Ms Kuteh encouraged him to sing along with Psalm 2 – The Lord is My Shepherd – with her.
The complaint featured in the appeal ruling, which upheld a fair dismissal finding in favour of Ms Kuteh's former employer Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust.
The ruling detailed Ms Kuteh's approach to the cancer patient.
It said: "He had replied 'open minded' to the question on the form concerning religion and alleged the Claimant had told him that the only way he could get to the Lord was through Jesus.
"(She) told him she would give him her bible if he did not have one; gripped his hand tightly and said a prayer that was very intense and went 'on and on'; and asked him to sing Psalm 23 after which he was so astounded that he had sung the first verse with her."
The court documents also point to a number of other incidents, in which Ms Kuteh told a bowel cancer patient in April 2016 'that if he prayed to God he would have a better chance of survival'.
Another complaint, again in April 2016, came from a patient who said Ms Kuteh 'spent more time talking about religion than doing the assessment', and another, the same month, came from a patient who said they didn't want to see Ms Kiteh as they 'didn't like preaching'.
Miss Kuteh, a 50-year-old mum-of-three, was suspended from her job in June 2016 and sacked for gross misconduct in August the same year.
Her dismissal was upheld by an employment tribunal later the same year.
She appealed the tribunal's ruling in 2017, but failed in her bid to have her sacking overturned.
She was allowed to work as a nurse again in July last year after her working restrictions were lifted by the NMC.
Ms Kuteh then escalated the case to the Court of Appeal – saying the employment tribunal had 'failed to consider the correct interpretation of the NMC Code and the distinction between appropriate and inappropriate expressions of religious beliefs'.
She also said the tribunal had failed to acknowledge that Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights – Freedom to manifest one's religion or beliefs – was 'applicable' and to 'consider the fact-sensitive distinction between true evangelism and improper proselytism'.
Judges at the Court of Appeal, however, rejected the nurse's most recent appeal, saying she was not unfairly dismissed in a ruling published last week.
The ruling, presided over by Lord Justice Gross, Lord Justice Singh and Lord Justice Haddon-Cave, stated: "The Respondent employer [Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust] did not have a blanket ban on religious speech at the workplace.
"What was considered to be inappropriate was for the Claimant [Ms Kuteh] to initiate discussions about religion and for her to disobey a lawful instruction given to her by management.
"It is important that cases such as this should not become over-elaborate or excessively complicated.
"The essence of this case can be summarised as follows: The Claimant accepted that on at least some occasions she initiated conversations with patients about religion.
"On 11 April 2016 the Claimant gave an assurance to Ms Gill [the supervising matron] that she would not initiate such discussions.
"Despite that assurance, given in response to a lawful management instruction, the Claimant continued to do so.
"In particular the incident on 3 June 2016, which the patient concerned described as “very bizarre” and “like a Monty Python skit”, was on any view clearly inappropriate."
The appeal finding said the sacking and successive tribunal findings against Ms Kuteh was fair and reasonable.
"Even having regard to the importance of the right to freedom of religion, it was plainly open to the (Employment Tribunal) to conclude that this dismissal had not been unfair.
The Christian Legal Centre – which represents Ms Kuteh – said she is currently in discussion with her legal team to consider her next step.
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