Law and religion round-up – 21st August

Roundup of a very quiet week – but it’s August, after all…

… although yesterday we posted Brexit Basics 7, another of our occasional updates of news and comment on Brexit. Whilst we attempt to stay with the legal issues and steer clear of speculation and commenting on the politics &c, it seems from the FT and others media that a major problem with the delivery of Brexit at present is the turf wars between the Brexit ministers.Of more interest to those focussing on the legal aspects are the inevitable FoI requests on the “Brexit process”, some of which have been made through the

Of more interest to those focusing on the legal aspects are the inevitable FoI requests on the “Brexit process”, some of which have been made through the What do they know? site. A request on the “whistleblowing” policy of DExEU was refused and perhaps, understandably, requests on the following are either “delayed” or “awaited”: the total cost of exiting the EU; economic forecasts should the UK lose “passporting” rights in financial services through a Brexit deal; costs to government (the Civil Service) of leaving the EU; and the skeleton argument in the Deir Dos Santos case. However, this and other sites publishing FoI requests are valuable potential sources of information. Watch this space.

Guest posts

Our more observant readers will have spotted that although neither of us has written any posts this week apart from the one on Brexit, we have published two excellent guest posts: What colour is the Bible?”: asylum-seekers and immigration officers on the widespread concerns that have been expressed about the way immigration officials interrogate asylum-seekers, which Michael Ainsworth discusses the particular issue of refugees from Islamic states who claim asylum on grounds of conversion to Christianity; and a cross-post from Human Rights in Ireland by Máiréad Enright of Kent Law School The rights of the unborn: a troubling decision from the [Irish] High Court? in which she analyses some recent judgments on the rights of foetuses under the Irish Constitution.

… and metal posts

Six days shalt thou labour, declares the Fourth Commandment – in response to which, observant Jews do not carry objects outside the home on Shabbat, not even a tallit bag or a prayer-book. However, they may carry objects or push their baby’s pushchair in public areas within an eruv, a technical boundary constructed of wires and poles.

The BBC reported on a planning application to create one of the UK’s largest eruvim in Greater Manchester; and this morning’s edition of Sunday carried an item on the controversy surrounding the proposal.

Injunction on the activities of Britain First

Huffington Post reports that Bedfordshire Police has made a successful application to extend the temporary injunction on the activities of Britain First which bans its leaders, Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen, from entering Luton and any mosque in England and Wales. They are also forbidden from directing their activists into the town. The injunction debars them, inter alia, from “Entering any Mosque or Islamic Cultural Centre or its private grounds within England and Wales without prior written invitation” and from a designated exclusion zone in the Bury Park area of Luton.

New Chief Coroner appointed

The new Chief Coroner of England and Wales is to be HHJ Mark Lucraft QC, who has been appointed under the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 for a three-year term with effect from 1 October. He will succeed HHJ Peter Thornton QC. HHJ Lucraft was called to the Bar in 1984 and took silk in 2006. He was appointed a Recorder in 2003 and a Circuit Judge in 2012. In addition to his work as Chief Coroner, he will continue to sit at the Central Criminal Court.

And the buck stops where?

The BBC has reported that a union has called for a new probe into the handling by senior council managers of the “baby ashes scandal” in Aberdeen. In 2013, BBC Scotland revealed that no ashes had been offered to the families of infants cremated in Aberdeen over a five-year period; Baby and adult ashes were mixed together and given back to relatives of the adult, while the parents of infants were told there were no ashes.

This followed similar revelations about the Mortonhall crematorium in Edinburgh, which led to the Burial and Cremation (Scotland) Act 2016 which was passed by the Scottish Parliament on 22nd March 2016 and received Royal Assent on 28th April 2016. It will be remembered that a senior member of staff at an Aberdeen crematorium lost his job following an investigation over the handling of babies’ ashes.

The recent BBC report states that the Authority had confirmed that the CEO had asked for the investigation to examine managers’ actions only up to director level. The council director responsible for Hazlehead Crematorium did not attend Wednesday’s council meeting to discuss the confidential report commissioned by the CEO. Councillors were said to have been shown the report at the meeting, but it was then taken back “following legal advice”. However, this in itself is not unusual with sensitive material that has not been formally placed in the public domain.

Judicial language

Following the complaints received by the authorities regarding reports that Judge Patricia Lynch QC used bad language in Chelmsford Crown Court, Joshua Rozenberg has written a piece in Full Fact on the sanctions that may be imposed on judges in the lower courts and the High Court.  Last year the Judicial Conduct Investigation Office (JCIO) took disciplinary action in 43 cases, 18 of which related to “inappropriate behaviour/comments”. Five judges were removed from office on that ground, while a further 13 were reprimanded or given “formal advice”.

We are not aware of any such instances in the consistory courts, which would quickly be reported in the Church Times and elsewhere; chancellors appear to demonstrate a high level of tolerance of even in the “most unpleasant” cases and with “really, really stupid” clergy and churchwardens, and it is normally the parties opponent who need to be reprimanded.

Quick links

  • ‘Bagehot’, The Economist: This sceptic isle: notes the decline in religious observance in the UK, suggests that “if it does not reverse the decline, society at large—all of it—has big questions to ponder” because “in all sorts of ways it leaves a big gap” and calls for “concerted debate” – but on what, precisely?

And finally … a welcome return

We were pleased to see that the Church Mouse, who tweets at @thechurchmouse, has returned to the blogosphere after four years with a post on Premier Christianity, The £275m price tag for Team GB’s success at the Olympics is too high, in which he questions whether Team GB’s Olympic success is really worth it. We couldn’t possibly comment…

…however, on Monday 22nd August, the Office of National Statistics published an analysis of how each country’s economy compares to their medal haul; readers can therefore draw their own conclusions.

One thought on “Law and religion round-up – 21st August

  1. Judicial language and Chancellors

    Perhaps one reason for there being no case of a diocesan chancellor being removed from office, reprimanded, or given “formal advice” for “inappropriate behaviour/comments” is that there appears to be no provision in ecclesiastical law for making formal complaints against a consistory court judge
    The Revd Paul Williamson stated in the London Consistory Court on 20 January 2016 that he would be reporting the Chancellor, His Honour Judge Seed QC, for his “offensive remarks” during the hearing of the application by St George’s Hanworth PCC’s application for an injunction against the London Borough of Hounslow. The application was dismissed, the Chancellor describing it in his judgment of 2 February 2016 as “an opportunistic and unjustified attempt to extract money from the Borough”: [2016] ECC Lon 1). The PCC subsequently made a formal complaint to the Bishop of London (see Church Times, 1 April 2016), but no action was taken, Mr Williamson being advised that the Bishop has no legal power to take disciplinary action against his Chancellor. In the light of the complaint, however, Judge Seed recused himself from ruling on Hounslow’s application for costs, the decision on which he delegated to the Deputy Chancellor,His Honour Judge David Turner QC: [2016] ECC Lon 3.

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