Another week dominated by “events, dear boy, events” and the continuing row over the decision of the Court of Appeal on the mechanism for Brexit…
Brexit in the courts – the plot thickens
- the Supreme Court granted permission to appeal in R (Miller & Dos Santos) v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union and set aside four days, 5-8 December, for a hearing before the full Court of eleven justices;
- the BBC carried a report that the Lord Advocate is to seek to intervene in the Supreme Court appeal in Miller;
- Maguire J heard argument in the High Court in Belfast on the stayed matters in McCord: according to Irish Legal News, it also remains to be determined whether an appeal should leapfrog to the Supreme Court – which, apparently, would be a first for Northern Ireland;
- the Belfast News Letter reported that the Attorney General, John Larkin QC, had issued a notice that the devolution matters raised in Agnew – the other judicial review petition, by a cross-party group of MLAs – are worthy of further judicial consideration and should be referred directly to the UKSC.
On Thursday, the Government published the Grounds of Appeal to the Supreme Court of the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union.
Brexit and the Daily Mail
In the run-up to the EU Referendum we indicated that we would be keeping track on “Euro myths and legends” so far as they impact on “law and religion” and cautioned on the increasing amount of misinformation regarding the European Union from the “red tops” and other sources. We also suggested that the blog on the European Commission’s Euro myths web page and Full Fact [“We’ll supply the facts, you supply the opinion”] were essential reading.
However, misinformation is not the sole prerogative of “Brexiters”, as shown by this week’s Full Fact analysis: The Daily Mail, “enemies of the people”, and a Nazi newspaper. It had been claimed that a recent Daily Mail headline bore an uncanny resemblance to the front page of a Nazi newspaper from 1933, both papers branding particular judges as ‘Enemies of the People’. The image of the two headlines has been doing the rounds on Twitter and Facebook for some time. In this case Full Fact concluded:
“The German headline reads ‘traitors of the people’. The men depicted in the 1933 newspaper weren’t judges, and the translation in the caption is wrong. They were people who had their citizenship revoked by the Nazi regime.”
In more detail, it said:
“The Twitter user who first posted the comparison, Dr Ned Richardson-Little, didn’t claim that the German paper showed judges. He pointed us to sources for the headline and the names of the ‘traitors’, which we’ve republished below. Dr Richardson-Little invited his followers to ‘compare and contrast’ the two images. It seems that the original tweet was misunderstood, amended and re-tweeted with the incorrect caption.”
We would point out, however, that as in the continuing misinformation regarding the EU, there is often a strong “first mover advantage” regarding the establishment of urban myths in the public consciousness.
Updated Oslo Principles
A conference hosted by the Oslo Coalition on Freedom of Religion or Belief in cooperation with the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at Brigham Young University has updated the Oslo Principles on Promotion of Freedom of Religion or Belief. It draws on experience since the Oslo Declaration in 1998.
The House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee has published a report, ‘Political Islam’ and the Muslim Brotherhood Review, that is fairly ciritical of what it sees as the historic tendency of successive UK administrations to lump political Islamist movements together instead of distinguishing between violent groups like IS and al-Qaeda and those that try to engage with democratic politics. John Oborne summarises the arguments here.
Trinity Western – update
The Toronto Star reports that Trinity Western University has sought leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada against the ruling of the Ontario Court of Appeal that the Law Society of Upper Canada acted intra vires in refusing to accredit graduates of TWU’s nascent Law School. Earlier this month, the British Columbia Court of Appeal ruled in favour of TWU and the Star also reports that the Law Society of BC is seeking leave to appeal that ruling.
Church of England Director, Churches and Cathedrals
The Church of England has advertised for a Director for the churches and cathedrals work of the National Church Institutions, in succession to Janet Gough. The duties are summarised as follows:
“To lead a team that will work with others in the Archbishops’ Council and the Church Commissioners in supporting dioceses and cathedrals in making the best use of their buildings for mission. To build on the success of the division in spreading good practice and obtaining resources from outside the Church for fabric and conservation, and to connect the division’s work to others in the National Church Institutions, supporting complementary aspects of churches’ mission. To implement the recommendations of the Church Buildings Review, agreed by the Archbishops’ Council, Church Commissioners and other Church governance bodies in 2015-6, and in particular to strengthen relations with the Church Commissioners so as to provide seamless support on buildings matters for dioceses and cathedrals.”
Applications close at midnight tomorrow, 14 November.
Commemoration of a great secularist
A portrait bust of Charles Bradlaugh has been unveiled in Portcullis House – the new(ish) parliamentary building on the other side of Bridge Street. The bust, by Suzie Zamit, was commissioned and donated to the House of Commons by the National Secular Society, which Bradlaugh founded in 1866.
Bradlaugh, an avowed atheist, was first elected to the Commons in 1880 for the constituency of Northampton. He attempted to take his seat in the House on several occasions but was not permitted to swear the Oath of Allegiance: see Bradlaugh v Gossett (1884) 12 QBD 271 (QB). At one point he was imprisoned in the Clock Tower (where, incidentally, Frank used to sleep when on night-duty as a very junior Commons Clerk).
The refusals prompted four successive by-elections, each of which Bradlaugh won. After six years he was finally allowed to swear the Oath and take his seat. He promoted what became the Oaths Act 1888 (since consolidated into the Oaths Act 1978) as a private Member’s bill, ensuring that any future MPs who wished not to swear would be able to take their seats in the House by making a non-religious affirmation. A great man.
[Picture courtesy of Suzie Zamit.]
- Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law: We Need to talk about the rule of law: on 8 November, the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law invited the Lord Chancellor to deliver a public lecture, to be hosted by the Centre, under the following title: “What is the rule of law? What does it require?”
- Nick Fraser, BBC Radio 4: The French Culture War: on the conflict between a new generation of French Muslims and hard-line secularism – well worth listening to if you have a spare half-hour.
- Howard M Friedman and Emily Lund, Church Law & Tax: Q&A: The Current State of Church-State Relations: interview with Professor Friedman on current trends in church-state relations and legislation, what the US can learn from religious cases abroad and his aims as a legal blogger.
- Ibtissem Guenfoud, Verfassungsblog: Religious Installations in French City Halls: A Christmas Crib Story: the Conseil d’Etat has made an important decision if and when Christmas cribs can be displayed in French city halls – a big thing in the land of laïcité: Ibtissem Guenfoud is unimpressed by its judicial reasoning.
- Keith Kahn-Harris, Religion and the Public Sphere: Branding Jews exotic: sociiology rather than law but, nevertheless, an interesting discussion of the way the media tends to use photographs of strictly Orthodox Haredi Jews to illustrate general articles on Judaism – and of the misconceptions that can result.
- Alasdair Henderson, UKHRB: Not just a piece of cake: interesting reflection on the judgment in Lee v McArthur & Ors  NICA 39 which concludes that “Peter Tatchell, the Guardian and the Telegraph are right; this decision risks significantly restricting freedom of conscience and freedom of speech for all of us. There must be a better way of balancing competing rights in a diverse, plural society”. Not sure we agree, but well worth reading.
- Andrew Henshaw QC, Brexit Law: The Brexit Case – an alternative view: in short, argues that the Divisional Court got it wrong in Miller.
- House of Commons Library: Brexit: some legal, constitutional and financial unknowns: indeed – there’s a lot of it about.
- Saheen Shardar Ali: Religion and the Public Sphere: A push to reform Islamic divorce could make Sharia councils redundant in Britain: suggests that recource to sharia councils is often the result of unregistered nikah marriage and a general lack of awareness about the options available under the secular law.
And finally… I
… it’s Trexit:
“The establishment took him literally but not seriously, while his fans took him seriously but not literally.”
And finally… II
Michael Gove in The Times on Friday:
“The suggestion there should be a people’s march on the Supreme Court didn’t strike me as the best use of my time. I’m not sure what would be served by me standing outside the old Middlesex Guildhall building shouting: ‘What do we want? The deployment of the Crown prerogative over treaty-making powers! When do we want it? At a time decreed by the relevant cabinet subcommittee and not held hostage by a parliamentary timetable!’ “
Maybe he’s better at journalism than politics.