Ashers: case runs into third day

The court case is now in its second and final day
The court case is now in its second and final day
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Two days had been set aside for the gay marriage cake case, but yesterday afternoon it became clear that more time would be needed for legal arguments.

Around 4.15pm, with Ashers’ QC David Scoffield still some way from completing his defence, and Mr Lee’s QC, Robin Allen, needing to catch a flight back to England, the judge agreed to adjourn for the day.

Judge Brownlie said she is on holiday on Monday but will return to hear the conclusion of the defence and then closing remarks from Mr Allen.

Much of the afternoon was dominated by technical legal argument over the correct interpretation of case law and legislation.

But, as the case drew to a close for the day, Mr Scoffield reiterated claims that his clients could not set aside their religious beliefs when they donned their baking overalls.

He said: “This is a freedom of conscience case.

“The evidence from the defendants is that they seek to live at all times in accordance with the teachings of the Bible.

“The religious beliefs form the very core of who they 
are.”

Judgment is not expected to be revealed for several weeks and appeals are thought likely, particularly from the bakery’s side.

The cake row has prompted a proposal by DUP MLA Paul Givan to include a so-called “conscience clause” in equality legislation which would allow businesses the right to refuse to provide services they believe could compromise their religious beliefs.

However, Sinn Fein has vowed to veto the move in the Assembly.