Humanist Society Scotland publishes Religion in Scots Law

Humanist Society Scotland (HSS) has published Religion in Scots Law: Report of an Audit at the University of Glasgow, with an accompanying summary: the result of research commissioned by it in November 2014 and carried out by Callum Brown, Professor of Late Modern European History, Thomas Green, a Scots ecclesiastical and legal historian and Honorary Research Fellow at the School of Law and Jane Mair, Professor of Private Law.

HSS explains that its motivation came from the increased public and political awareness of the changing role of religion and belief in Scottish public life:

“Our history, our institutions and our society have been shaped by religious and non-religious believers over centuries. At a time when Scotland remains in deep conversation about where we are going, it is necessary that we first understand where we are now and how we got here.” Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 28th February

Prosecuting assisting suicide in Scotland, the right to manifest religion in the workplace – and the relevance of Gilbert & Sullivan to the referendum… 

Court of Session upholds prosecution policy on assisting suicide

In Ross v Lord Advocate [2016] ScotCS CSIH 12 the Second Division of the Inner House rejected the reclaiming motion from a decision of the Lord Ordinary on a petition for judicial review of the Lord Advocate’s failure or refusal to publish specific guidance on the facts and circumstances which he would take into account in deciding whether or not to prosecute an individual who assists another to commit suicide. The reclaimer, a 65-year-old man, suffers from diabetes, heart problems, Parkinson’s disease, and peripheral neuropathy. It was agreed by both sides that the circumstances engaged Article 8 ECHR.; however, the Court concluded that the policy was “prescribed by law” and that there was no evidence that the law was being applied by the Lord Advocate in an arbitrary way.

UKHRB has posted a helpful analysis of the judgment by Thomas Raine. In deference to David Allen Green’s dictum – more below – that “The one bad reason to blog is to do it just for the sake of it” there’s little point in us doing the same. But that won’t let Frank off having to write a note for Law & Justice.

Victoria Wasteney in the EAT Continue reading

Recent consistory court judgments – February

This month’s round-up of ecclesiastical cases


Our post on Re St. George Hanworth picked up on the theme of the incorrect use of the term “vexatious” by Nicky Morgan, the Secretary of State for Education, and explored the practicalities and limitations of the legislation when applied to ecclesiastical cases initiated a vexatious litigant; there are currently 190 so-named persons on the list published by the HM Courts & Tribunals Service. Continue reading

Church Commissioners and ExxonMobil

Commissioners’ challenge ExxonMobil’s attempt to silence climate change questions

In our post COP21: the Paris Agreement and the churches we commented that Church Commissioners were continuing their proactive engagement with their investment portfolio; on 16 December, they announced that the ‘Aiming for A’ investor coalition, had confirmed that it was calling for the major mining companies to make a step change in their disclosure to investors about their response to the challenges posed to their businesses by the global drive to mitigate climate change.

On 24 February, the Commissioners issued the Press Notice Church Commissioners Among Investors Challenging ExxonMobil’s Attempt to Silence Climate Change Questions followed by a blog Preparing for a low-carbon future.

Continue reading

Peter Ball review – Chair announced

The Archbishop of Canterbury has announced the Chair of the independent review into Peter Ball case

Further to yesterday’s reports in the media, the following formal announcement was made this morning.

“Dame Moira Gibb announced as Chair of independent review into Peter Ball case

24 February 2016

The Archbishop of Canterbury has announced the appointment of Dame Moira Gibb to be chair of the independent review into the way the Church of England responded to the case of Peter Ball, the former Bishop of Gloucester, who was jailed last year for sex offences. Continue reading

Bellringing – Vive le sport?

Headlines on bellringing as a sport – more a result of wishful thinking than serious consideration


The Daily Telegraph and others have recently run a story concerning a dispute between bell ringers as to whether the activity should be classified as a sport, with some arguing that “their hobby is a sport because it is competitive and physically difficult”. Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 21st February

The start of the in-out referendum campaign and the UKSC redefines the law on joint enterprise – but there was some law & religion news as well… 

The Prime Minister and the EU

On Friday the Prime Minister announced that he had concluded an agreement with the other EU Heads of Government that he could recommend in the forthcoming referendum campaign, which is to be held on 23 June (when around 135,000 people will be at the second day of Glastonbury 2016). EU membership (or, indeed, non-membership) is incredibly important: however, there are lot of other places such as Reimagining Europe in which to discuss it – and we don’t propose to do so.

Euro myths and legends

However, we will be keeping track on “Euro myths and legends” as far as they impact on “law and religion”; in view of the PM’s announcement, an increase in the misinformation regarding the European Union from the “red tops” and other is to be expected, for which the blog on the European Commission’s UK website and Full Fact [“We’ll supply the facts, you supply the opinion”] are essential reading. As a rule of thumb one should query any media headlines that INSIST on capitalization of headlines concerning the EU, or include the words “Brussels”, “barmy”, or “bananas”. Continue reading