Law and religion round-up – 2nd September

Health & safety and data protection are in the news again – Antisemitism, alas, is rarely out of it…

Data protection and the GDPR

In a blog post picked up by the Financial Times, the law firm EMW reports that the number of complaints about data protection breaches has more than doubled since the General Data Protection Regulation came into effect. The Information Commissioner’s Office has said that there were 6,281 complaints between 25 May 2018 – the day on which the GDPR came into force – and 3 July 2018: a rise of 160 per cent in comparison with the same period in 2017, when there had been 2,417 complaints.

We’ve been banging on, Cassandra-like, about the likely impact of the GDPR for at least a year: we repeat, be very, very careful.

Health & safety and carbon monoxide

This week the National Churches Trust tweeted a link to a KentOnline report that described a serious incident at St Botolph’s Church, Northfleet, in which ringers suffered carbon monoxide poisoning caused by fumes from a faulty boiler in the tower’s cellar. Although this is an old news item, we feel that the potential risk that it highlights is of on-going concern. It stated that one of the ringers had collapsed in the tower and four of the six were taken to hospital by paramedics. Blood tests showed that all six had been exposed to carbon monoxide, but they were all released the same day.

Health & safety and wood chips

Issues related to carbon monoxide seldom feature on L&RUK, so perhaps this is an opportunity to segue to one of our earliest posts Are wood-chips the new jam-jars? Perhaps theGreat Jam-Jar Mystery’ is best forgotten, but for those considering the installation of wood pellet boilers is one of the potential options for meeting their energy reduction targets, or have already done so, the health and safety issues merit a reprise.

On 5 November 2012, the Health and Safety Executive issued a Safety Notice, Risk of carbon monoxide release during the storage of wood pellets, following a number of fatalities; although there have been no reported fatalities in the UK, HSE noted that since 2002 there have been at least nine fatalities in Europe caused by carbon monoxide poisoning following entry of persons into wood pellet storage areas. Three relating to domestic property have occurred since 2010, and wood pellet boilers are increasingly being considered as an alternative to oil or gas-fired boilers in homes and businesses and for the replacement of coal-fired boilers, particularly in schools.

The Charity Commission and the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism

Civil Society reports that the Charity Commission is “assessing concerns” raised about the Campaign Against Antisemitism’s campaigning activities. The Campaign has mounted an online petition, entitled “Jeremy Corbyn is an antisemite and must go”, which calls for the Labour Party leader to be replaced and has so far received almost 35,000 signatures. Meanwhile, a counter-petition entitled “To Get the Charity Commission to Deregister the Zionist Campaign Against Anti-Semitism” has been sent to the Commission after receiving almost 7,500 signatures.

According to the Commission’s database, the CAA is “a volunteer-led charity dedicated to exposing and countering antisemitism through education and zero-tolerance enforcement of the law”. A spokeswoman for the Commission told Civil Society that charities are permitted to campaign and engage in political activity to further their charitable purposes:

“However, a charity must always guard its independence and ensure it remains independent, neutral and balanced in any engagement with or activities involving political parties. Our guidance on campaigning and political activity by charities explains what is expected of trustees in this area and it is against this guidance and the wider legal framework that we will be assessing concerns raised about the CAA.”

Humanist weddings in Northern Ireland

The first humanist weddings in Northern Ireland since the Court of Appeal’s judgment in Smyth, Re Judicial Review [2018] NICA 25 took place on Saturday 25 August, when Emma Taylor and Paul Malone were married at Queen’s University, and on Sunday 26 August, when Alanna McCaffrey and Ronan Johnson were married in County Fermanagh.

Quick links

And finally… I

Further bon mots from Gloucester Chancellor June Rodgers in Re St Phillip and St James Cheltenham [2018] Ecc Glo:

“It remains for me one of life’s insoluble mysteries why people object to sitting in a pew in Church for an hour but are more than happy to sit on the same pew all evening if it has moved to a pub or restaurant. The mere provision of cushions (and/or drink) cannot surely make all that difference. (If so, some sofas might be a viable alternative). However, I recognise that it is really the liturgical/parochial freedom of expression which is the pews’ worst enemy, not peoples’ bottoms”.

We don’t understand it either.

And finally… II

Seen in Florence:

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