Law and religion round-up – 3rd October

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Charity Commission inquiry

The Charity Commission has announced that it has opened an inquiry into Citygate Christian Outreach Centre (charity number 1111470), which runs a church in Beckenham. The Commission opened an inquiry when it learned that the trustees had given an individual over £900,000 via unsecured loans. It also identified concerns about the charity’s awarding of payments and other financial benefits to trustees and others connected with the charity. The inquiry is examining:

  • decision-making in relation to the unsecured loans;
  • if there has been any financial loss to the charity;
  • whether potential conflicts of interest in relation to financial transactions have been handled appropriately;
  • if there has been any unauthorised private benefit to the trustees and/or connected parties; and
  • whether the trustees have complied with their governing document and fulfilled their duties and responsibilities under charity law.

Assisted dying

The Scottish Parliament has opened a public consultation on a proposal for an Assisted Dying for Terminally Ill Adults (Scotland) Bill. It would enable competent adults who are terminally ill to be provided at their request with assistance to end their life. The consultation opened on 23 September and closes on 22 December.

In the Westminster Parliament, Baroness Meacher’s Assisted Dying Bill is scheduled for its second reading on 22 October. A copy of the Bill as introduced is here.

Ecclesiastical court judgments – September and beyond

Although consisting of only five judgments (three additional ones just missed the publication deadline), our September summary includes a wide range of subject matter: church sharing with the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of the British Isles and Ireland; permission for the conservation and repair of Mr William Shakespeare’s Comedies, Histories and Tragedies, 4th Folio (1685); addressing mid-1990s large scale re-ordering of Grimsby Minster which had been undertaken without faculty; and the refusal of a new carving for Lincoln Cathedral’s Romanesque Frieze Panel 11 since it was “lacking in artistic merit”.

In Re Crowland Abbey [2021] ECC Lin 3, a  faculty was sought to change the use of the parvise of the 15th century west porch of Crowland Abbey (St Mary and St Bartholomew and St Guthlac Crowland) from a storage area to a chapel suitable for Eastern Orthodox worship. The project required the construction of an iconostasis at the eastern end of the parvise, a new floor covering, a reliquary, credence table, reading stand and curtains for the external windows. In addition to addressing the position and fixing of the iconostasis, it was also necessary to provide sufficient headroom for the Orthodox Archbishop’s kalimavkion headgear.

And coming to the Salisbury consistory court soon, the reordering and extension of St Mary, Devizes. The St Mary Devizes Trust has posted detailed information including fourteen downloadable planning application documents, and comments on the letters received from the CBC, DAC HE regarding the plans of October 2019. Of particular interest with regard to the following item is section 8.1 from the Chedburn Codd Architects’ Methodology document. The services engineer considered a variety of sustainable energy supplies and concluded that a zoned underfloor heating system powered by efficient new gas boilers would be the most appropriate in this church. These could be converted to a hydrogen-powered boiler in the future as suggested by the DAC.

Carbon reduction and the consistory courts

On 1 October 2021, the Church of England Environment Programme published its October Environment Bulletin, with information on the autumn programme of net zero carbon webinars, plus information on several events linked to the COP26 climate talks. Further webinars are planned for November and December (scroll down), including Getting to “yes” for your environmental project – successfully navigating the faculty system. This will take place on 22 November and details are summarized in our post here

On the same theme, the Ecclesiastical Law Society lecture, “Clean and green – law and the Carbon neutral Church” by Morag Ellis QC, Dean of the Arches and Auditor, which was first delivered last month, will be repeated on 4 November at 5.30 pm. The date has been chosen to coincide with the COP26 summit in Glasgow and her lecture will be delivered via Zoom so that more members are able to participate. It is equally open to non-members.

Links to specific judgments relating to  “Net zero”, church heating, and the consistory courts and other post on “net zero” are included in An Index of L&RUK Posts – Reduction of carbon emissions.

RIP Public Health England (2013-2021)

Public Health England (PHE) was an executive agency of the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) in England which began operating on 1 April 2013 “to protect and improve health and wellbeing and reduce health inequalities”. PHE has featured in our blog posts as a contributor to some of the government guidance on COVID-19. As of 1 October 2021, it was replaced by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) and the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities under the Public Health England (Dissolution) (Consequential Amendments) Regulations 2021, SI 2021/974,

UKHSA is an executive agency, sponsored by the DHSC and is responsible for planning, preventing and responding to external health threats, and providing intellectual, scientific and operational leadership at the national and local levels, as well as on the global stage. It will “ensure the nation [presumably England, bearing in mind that health policy is a devolved matter] can respond quickly and at greater scale to deal with pandemics and future threats”.

Quick links

And finally…

Two religion and law stories this week qualified as “marmalade droppers” – a journalists’ term for outrageous stories, described by Robert Crampton in The Times as those which “[conjure] an image of an aggrieved old soul, the essence of Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells, being so appalled at a report of some ghastly modern folly that his favoured breakfast condiment slides unnoticed off his morning toast”.

If you haven’t guessed, the reports were of the burning of mediaeval pews at Gordano in Somerset and the management shortcomings at a beer festival in a churchyard in Norton-on-Tees, Co Durham, where table-top tombs were used as, err…,table tops. And for next week – Chancel Repair Liability?

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