A bishop of the Church of England is spending Holy Wednesday at an employment tribunal.

The Bishop of Hereford will defend allegations that he illegally discriminated against a youth worker because he is gay.

The case will be a test of the 2003 law that protects gay, bisexual and lesbian people in employment.

The law contains an exemption for religious organisations but it is generally only thought to apply to the appointment of clerics.

John Reaney is claiming that he was discriminated against on the grounds of his sexuality.

Mr Reaney was previously employed as a youth officer for the Norwich and Chester Church of England diocese.

In an application form for a similar job in Hereford, Mr Reaney stated that he is gay.

Following a successful interview, he was told that subject the consent of the bishop, he would be appointed.

However, after meeting Bishop Priddis, he was told that he was not selected for the position. He claims he was asked humiliating questions about his personal life.

A spokesman for Bishop Priddis said yesterday:

“The Bishop of Hereford denies any unlawful discrimination and has acted in accordance with Church teaching in applying a standard of sexual practice that applied equally to heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual and transsexual people and not on the orientation of any particular group.”

Stonewall is financially supporting Mr Reaney’s case.