Ashers case: ‘A £36.50 cake has spawned bills totalling £100k-plus’

Simon Calvert from the Christian Institute outside Belfast High Court.   Picture Colm O'Reilly Presseye

Simon Calvert from the Christian Institute outside Belfast High Court. Picture Colm O'Reilly Presseye

The Christian Institute has estimated that well over £100,000 in legal costs have now been racked up in the saga over Ashers’ ‘gay cake’ – an order which originally cost £36.50.

The institute, which has been aiding the McArthur family (which run Ashers) in its court struggles, said the fact that the Attorney General has been allowed to become directly involved in the case is clear evidence that he has identified “matters of importance”.

In a statement, it said: “These will now be fully argued when the appeal comes before the court in May.

“By the time the full hearing takes place time it will be two years since the £36.50 cake at the centre of what has become a legal, political and theological saga, was ordered.

“So far, the case has generated legal costs on both sides which, combined, have broken the £100,000 barrier.

“The McArthur family’s legal costs are well over £50,000 and I’m sure the Equality Commission’s costs are at least as high.”

Today marks 665 days since the cake was originally ordered, sparking the whole saga.

The statement continued: “People are entitled to ask whether the Equality Commission should have chosen to bring the legal action over a £36.50 cake.

“But the McArthur family had no choice but to defend themselves. For them there is a lot more at stake than a cake, or the £500 damages they were ordered to pay by the County court. Because they are being punished for having mainstream, deeply held religious beliefs.

“Those beliefs don’t leave them when they leave church on a Sunday. Nor can they be thrown off when they leave home for work.”

He added that the McArthurs are “hugely grateful to the public for their financial, moral and spiritual support” over the case.