Law & Religion UK is intended as a forum for what we hope is academically-rigorous exploration of the interactions between law and religion, together with the associated human rights issues. We welcome pertinent guest posts and comments on current developments that reflect the views and opinions of their respective authors and meet the General Conditions applying to the site. Those that do not meet these criteria or which are otherwise unidentifiable are unlikely to be published, especially comments that are abusive or defamatory.

Frank Cranmer and David Pocklington


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Volunteers, Safeguarding and the CofE

Some of the broader issues raised by the sacking of York Minster bell ringers

The recent Statement by the Dean and Chapter of York concerning the Minster’s volunteer bell ringers was apparently triggered by concerns relating primarily to safeguarding, health and safety, and other issues. The circumstances in York are a matter for local resolution, and no further comment is necessary. york-minster-img_4461-3However, this has highlighted the necessity for PCCs and cathedral authorities to ensure that adequate measures are in place for the activities of volunteers for any place of worship, regardless of its size or perceived importance. Volunteers are used for a wide range of activities, some of which are described on the York Minster web pages. This post is not intended to provide guidance on the specialist area of bellringing, which is outwith our own expertise, but draws upon this as an example of the issues to be addressed in the organization of volunteer groups. Continue reading

Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse – yet another update

On Monday, in reply to an Urgent Question from Lisa Nandy (Wigan, Lab), the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, gave a long answer on the remit, organisation, budget and staffing of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, as follows:

“I know that the whole House will agree with me when I say that the work of the inquiry is absolutely vital. Victims and survivors must have justice, and we must learn the lessons of the past. The inquiry’s remit is to examine whether institutions in England and Wales have failed to protect children from sexual abuse. It is an independent body, established under the Inquiries Act 2005. The Home Office is the sponsor Department, and I am responsible for the terms of reference, appointing the chair and panel members, and providing funding. Last year, the inquiry had a budget of £17.9 million and underspent by over £3 million. The appointment of staff and the day-to-day running are matters for the chair. Continue reading

Muslims and the British caste law

We have posted on several previous occasions about the inclusion of caste in the Equality Act 2010 as a protected characteristic. In this guest post, Prakash Shah looks at the issue as it might affect British Muslims.


British Muslims have remained a silent party in the debates around the provision on caste discrimination in the UK’s Equality Act. In both 2010 (when the clause was introduced) and in 2013 (when its implementation was made obligatory), Muslim parliamentarians tended to vote along party lines. This means that Muslim Labour and Liberal parliamentarians voted in favour of including caste in the Equality Act and Muslim Tory parliamentarians voted against it. Importantly, none appears to have raised concerns about how the law would impact on the Muslim community. Muslim organisations, too, have remained reticent about the relevance or impact of the caste law on them. The forthcoming consultation on how to implement the caste law, announced by the Equalities Minister in September 2016, may provide an opportunity to reconsider. Continue reading

Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse – further update

The Chair of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, Professor Alexis Jay, has today released the following statement on the work of the Inquiry:

“1. I want to reassure everyone that this Inquiry is open for business. A significant amount of work has been completed in relation to the review I commissioned on my appointment. Today, I am setting out my strategy for ensuring this Inquiry delivers against its Terms of Reference, making meaningful recommendations for change within a reasonable time-frame. Continue reading

York Minster Bell Ringers

Today, the following Statement was released by the Dean and Chapter of York and delivered by the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu. Last Tuesday, following a meeting of the Dean and Chapter, all 30 volunteer ringers were axed and access to the ringing chamber prevented. Another ringer of the carillon bells was subsequently suspended.

Continue reading

PCCs and charitable status

Last year we posted on 15 questions church charity trustees should ask? and Churches as charities: some basics. In the following cross-post from the Ecclesiastical Law Society website, Catherine Shelley looks specifically at the position of Church of England PCCs – but much of her advice is equally applicable to church charities of other denominations.


PCCs are charities established by the Parochial Church Councils (Powers) Measure 1956, which sets out the purpose of the PCC as “promoting in the parish the whole mission of the Church”. The rest of the PCC’s ‘constitution’ is the Church Representation Rules (set out in Schedule 3 to the Synodical Government Measure 1969). As the annual income of most PCCs will be over £100,000 they should be registered on the Charity Commission website – but even if your charity is exempt or excepted from registration it is still obliged to follow charity law.

The Charity Commission’s six core principles for charity trustees are as follows: Continue reading