Religion and law round-up – 26th October

Not a lot of black-letter law this week but quite a lot of comment…

Bar Council statement on the role of the Lord Chancellor

Following the Lord Chancellor’s evidence on 15 October to the House of Lords Committee on the Constitution, the Bar Council issued a press statement as follows:

“Justice is not a service that governments can choose to provide or not. It is a vital part of our constitutional arrangements. It needs to be defended and promoted to make the separation of powers a continuing reality and thereby to safeguard our democratic way of life for the future. The Lord Chancellor must be a champion of the justice system as well as guardian of the constitution. He swears an oath that he will: ‘… respect the rule of law, defend the independence of the judiciary and discharge my duty to ensure the provision of resources for the efficient and effective support of the courts for which I am responsible.’ His role is therefore different from that of the Secretaries of State for other departments.  He is entrusted with lead responsibility in government to maintain the delicate balance between, on the one hand, upholding the rule of law and protecting the independence of the judiciary and, on the other hand, respecting the interests of the executive. Legal expertise is essential to fulfil such a unique role. The Lord Chancellor should be a very senior lawyer.”

Or, indeed, unlike the present incumbent, any kind of lawyer – even a fairly junior one…

Sexual abuse and the seal of the confessional

The report of the independent inquiry commissioned by the Archbishop of York and chaired by HHJ Sally Cahill QC into the Church of England’s handling of reports of alleged sexual abuse by the late Robert Waddington, formerly Dean of Manchester, was published on Thursday. Thinking Anglicans explains that the report will not be made available on-line but in hard copy only, in response to the request of some of those interviewed by the inquiry. Copies are available from Church House Bookshop.

In a statement subsequent to the report’s publication, the Archbishop of York raised the more general question of the seal of the confessional, as follows: Continue reading