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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Legal developments – July General Synod

The latest Archdeacons’ News Bulletin #17 published this week reproduces the following useful summary of the legislative business at the Church of England’s July General Synod in York, which first appeared in the Ordinary Time (July) issue of the Ecclesiastical Law Society Gospel and Law. Links to the papers discussed are on the Church of England web site, here. Continue reading

Tackling Islamist extremism in prisons: the Acheson Review

In September 2015 the then Secretary of State for Justice commissioned a departmental review led by Ian Acheson, a former prison governor, to assess the threat which Islamist extremism and the radicalisation that sustains it pose to prisons and probation services and to assess the capability of the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) to manage that threat. The Ministry of Justice has now published a Summary of the main findings of the review of Islamist extremism in prisons, probation and youth justice – but not the full report itself. Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 21st August

Roundup of a very quiet week – but it’s August, after all…

… although yesterday we posted Brexit Basics 7, another of our occasional updates of news and comment on Brexit. Whilst we attempt to stay with the legal issues and steer clear of speculation and commenting on the politics &c, it seems from the FT and others media that a major problem with the delivery of Brexit at present is the turf wars between the Brexit ministers.Of more interest to those focussing on the legal aspects are the inevitable FoI requests on the “Brexit process”, some of which have been made through the

Of more interest to those focusing on the legal aspects are the inevitable FoI requests on the “Brexit process”, some of which have been made through the What do they know? site. A request on the “whistleblowing” policy of DExEU was refused and perhaps, understandably, requests on the following are either “delayed” or “awaited”: the total cost of exiting the EU; economic forecasts should the UK lose “passporting” rights in financial services through a Brexit deal; costs to government (the Civil Service) of leaving the EU; and the skeleton argument in the Deir Dos Santos case. However, this and other sites publishing FoI requests are valuable potential sources of information. Watch this space. Continue reading

Brexit Basics 7: update 20th August

Another of our occasional updates of news and comment on Brexit.

The UK Dimension

  • Ana Bobic and Josephine van Zeben, UK Constitutional Law Association: Negotiating Brexit: Can the UK Have Its Cake and Eat It?: in a word, “No”: the authors conclude that “Any agreement with the EU must deal with the free movement of persons while attempting to maintain free trade in services and goods … this bodes ill for an EEA-light option (without free movement of goods) and makes the WTO route appear more realistic.” [2 August]

Continue reading

The rights of the unborn: a troubling decision from the [Irish] High Court?

In a cross-post from Human Rights in IrelandMáiréad Enright of Kent Law School analyses some recent judgments on the rights of foetuses under the Irish Constitution.


Does the unborn have rights other than the right to life enshrined in the 8th Amendment?

It is clear that, under Irish law, foetuses cannot have any greater rights than children already born.[1] However, recent cases have raised the prospect that they have some of the same rights and interests as born children. In PP v. HSE,[2] for instance, the High Court referred to the ‘best interests’ of the foetus who has no prospect of survival outside the womb, analogising its position to that of a child on life support. It is not clear that the ‘unborn’ (the entity recognised or created by the 8th Amendment) is, for constitutional purposes, a child like any other. Recently, the courts have been asked to consider whether foetuses carried by Irish citizens have particular rights other than the right to life, which the state should take into account in assessing whether to deport their non-citizen fathers. Another, broader, way of putting this question is to ask whether the unborn’s rights derive exclusively from the 8th Amendment, or whether it may also enjoy rights grounded in other parts of the Constitution. Continue reading

“What colour is the Bible?”: asylum-seekers and immigration officers

Widespread concerns have been expressed about the way immigration officials interrogate asylum-seekers. In this guest post, Michael Ainsworth discusses the particular issue of refugees from Islamic states who claim asylum on grounds of conversion to Christianity.


Can it really be true, as reported, that this is one of the questions asked by immigration officials to test the faith of those who claim Christian conversion as part of their case for asylum? If so, what is the right answer? Perhaps it is ‘brown’, since most bibles provided by Gideons International in places of confinement, as well as hotels, are this colour – though some are red, and some are blue. We are not told: but if this is the extent of interrogators’ knowledge of the Christian faith, they know less than those they are questioning, and who may have come through a life-changing experience in which printed texts play little part – though a number I have met read their multi-coloured bibles assiduously, and sensibly (concentrating on the gospels, rather than starting with Genesis 1). Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 14th August

Professor Alexis Jay agreed to chair the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, the Jehovah’s Witnesses failed to head off the Charity Commission’s  inquiry into their safeguarding practices – and we discovered the identity of …

… The Minister for Faith and Integration

Readers may be as interested as we were to learn that the faith portfolio in the new Government has been given to Lord (Nick) Bourne of Aberystwyth. A barrister and former Professor of Law at Swansea, he was appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Wales Office in May 2015 and, additionally, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Communities and Local Government on 17 July 2016, where his responsibilities include faith and integration, community cohesion and racial equality. We came across the information about his appointment entirely by accident, in a report in Jewish News.

Charity Commission inquiry into Jehovah’s Witnesses to proceed

On Friday, Third Sector (£) reported that the Supreme Court has ruled that the Watch Tower and Bible Tract Society of Great Britain cannot prevent the Charity Commission from opening a statutory inquiry into the charity’s safeguarding practices, after the Court of Appeal had refused in Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society of Britain & Ors v The Charity Commission [2016] EWCA Civ 154 to set aside the Commission’s decision to open the inquiry. Continue reading