Law and religion round-up – 16th April

Revd Paul Williamson in court again

In July 1997, the Revd Paul Williamson was made the subject of a Civil Proceedings Order as a vexatious litigant pursuant to s.42(1A) Senior Courts Act 1981 (Restriction of vexatious legal proceedings), primarily as a result of a series of proceedings arising from his opposition to the ordination of women: see R v HM Attorney-General ex parte Reverend Paul Stewart Williamson [1997] EWHC Admin 691. The CPO prohibited him from instituting any civil proceedings in any court or tribunal “unless he obtains the leave of the High Court having satisfied the High Court that the proceedings are not an abuse of the process”. Nevertheless, he started proceedings in the employment tribunal on 1 April 2019 – without the leave of the High Court – in which he argued that the decision to end his tenure as priest-in-charge of St George, Hanworth, when he reached the age of 70 on 18 November 2018 had been unlawful age discrimination.

The employment tribunal held that his claim could not progress because it was a “nullity” brought in breach of the CPO, and the employment appeal tribunal agreed. He subsequently told the Church Times that he had referred the matter to the Supreme Court on his counsel’s advice, in the hope that it might deal with the principle and not be bound by precedent. “We make the point that the substantive case of age discrimination has never been heard and will affect thousands of priests, for many years to come … It is a matter of natural justice that the issue is heard in full and not swept away on a technicality.”

Earlier this month, he was back in court. Continue reading