Law and religion round-up – 29th April

A week during which citizenship has been an issue in Westminster and in the courts – as have crosses in Bavaria…

On Monday we posted ECtHR rules application in Alfie Evans case inadmissible; events have been fast-moving since then, the legal considerations culminating with a hearing in the Court of Appeal which upheld the findings of the earlier hearings and refused permission for Alfie to be moved to Italy, where the Bambino Gesù Children’s Hospital had made an offer of palliative treatment. Sadly, three days after Tom and Kate Evans abandoned their legal fight, their son Alfie died.

However,  this is not strictly a “law & religion” issue (though it is certainly in part about morality) and, were it not for the fact that the Christian Legal Centre is involved, we probably wouldn’t have referred to it at all. Furthermore, we feel that it would be pretty rash to comment, given the sensitivities and given also that we don’t have all the necessary information because a number of the judicial conclusions have not been published.

Coroners and “cab ranks”

Probably to no-one’s surprise, on Friday a Divisional Court of Queen’s Bench quashed the “cab rank” rule adopted by HM Senior Coroner for Inner North London. We posted a long note on the decision hereA statement issued by the coroner’s court said that Ms Hassell was “grateful for the High Court’s clarification of the law” and:

“In accordance with this, her office will immediately stop dealing with families in chronological order. In future, instead of considering no family for prioritisation, the Senior Coroner will consider every family for prioritisation. In deciding the order of priority, she will take into account all relevant considerations, including the special needs of each individual family. The Senior Coroner looks forward to the Chief Coroner’s new guidance, which he has indicated he will produce soon. She will then undertake a consultation process with stakeholders before producing her own policy.”

Bishop George Bell

On Monday, the Telegraph reported that Sussex Police had closed their investigation into a new allegation against Bishop Bell that had been referred to them earlier in the year. According to the report, a police spokesman said:

“On Tuesday 30 January this year we received information from the Church of England concerning an allegation made against the late Bishop George Bell. The information was assessed and a proportionate investigation has been carried out to clarify the circumstances. This was done thoroughly and sensitively, although of course further police investigation or action is not possible as Bishop Bell died 60 years ago.

There are no current safeguarding issues. The matter is now closed as far as Sussex Police are concerned and the Church of England have been informed of this.”

Abortion in Ealing and Northern Ireland

We have not previously commented on the decision by Ealing Borough Council to implement a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) around the Marie Stopes clinic in Mattock Lane, Ealing, on the basis that it seemed very marginal to “law and religion”. However, the decision is to be challenged by Alina Dulgheriu, a member of Be Here for Me – a pro-life pressure group – who is seeking leave to bring judicial review proceedings. She claims that there is no evidence that members of the Good Counsel Network, a group that hold vigils outside the clinic, have harassed women going for abortions: watch this space.

Meanwhile in Belfast, officials have at last published the report on Healthcare and the law on termination of pregnancy for fatal fetal abnormality – which was finalised in October 2016. Sero sed serio barely describes it.

Crosses in Bavaria

The Council of Ministers of the State of Bavaria has agreed an amendment to the general rules of procedure for the State’s authorities under the terms of which a cross is to be placed in the entrance of each office building in the State as “a visible commitment to the basic values of the legal and social order in Bavaria and Germany clearly perceptible as an expression of the historical and cultural character of Bavaria”. The cross, says the press release is “the basic symbol of the cultural identity of Christian and Western character”.

The obligation applies to all authorities of the State of Bavaria as from 1 June 2018. Municipalities, counties and districts are not bound by the rule but are advised to act accordingly. [With thanks to Dr Georg Neureither.]

Which seems barely credible, even from the perspective of a country in which the Head of  State is also Supreme Governor of the Church of England. Could it possibly be connected with the fact that the Bavarian CSU party is facing an election in October and trying to spike the guns of the far right? Or have they been having trouble with vampires? Next stop, maybe, the domestic courts, followed possibly by a trip to Strasbourg? Max Steinbeis – himself a Bavarian – gives it a thorough fisking on Verfassungsblog.

President of the Family Division

On 24 April, No 10 announced that HM The Queen has approved the appointment of The Rt Hon Sir Andrew McFarlane as the President of the Family Division from 28 July 2018; his appointment follows the retirement of Sir James Munby on 27 July.

Sir Andrew McFarlane was called to the Bar in 1977 and took Silk in 1998. He was appointed a Recorder in 1995, a Deputy High Court Judge in 2000 and a High Court Judge in the Family Division in 2005. He is also the Chair and President of Tribunals of the Church of England’s Clergy Discipline Commission.

In addition to his achievements listed in the announcement, it is notable that he studied for an LLM in Canon Law at Cardiff, and the title of his dissertation (1998) was ‘Child protection: the Church of England and the law‘.

Bats in Churches

On Friday, the Bat Habitats Regulation Bill [HL] 2017-19 was given its second reading in the House of Lords. Whilst its chances of success without government support are low, their Lordships’ debate was nevertheless informative of the many of the issues of concern in this area. Furthermore, the Rt Rev Graham James, the Bishop of Norwich provided some insights to the churchmanship of the bats themselves, (See “And finally…II”, below).

Quick links

And finally…I

From The Independent:

UK???? Evidently they haven’t been reading their own stuff on Brexit.

And finally…II

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