Law and religion round-up – 7th May

Striving always to provide a strong and stable blog rather than a coalition of chaos…

 …following the example set in the House of Commons:

Paul Flynn (Newport West) (Lab): On a point of order, Mr Speaker. You and I are familiar with the syndrome of pre-election tension that afflicts this place. You are concerned for the wellbeing of Members, particularly the hon. Member for Lincoln (Karl McCartney), but I believe that what we have seen today is a sudden outbreak of parliamentary Tourette’s. The rumour is that something known as a “Crosby chip” has been implanted in the brains of Conservative Members that compels them to say “strong and stable” every 18 seconds and “coalition of chaos” every 38 seconds. Can we inquire into whether the affliction is permanent or one that can be cured?

Mr Speaker: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his point of order. I am not sure it is a matter for the Chair. I can only say, I think without fear of contradiction, that in my time in this place I have never been pre-programmed, or otherwise, by anyone. HC Hansard, 26 April 2017, Vol 624, Col 1115.

Meanwhile, as the campaign grinds on, we updated our piece on Churches, hustings and the General Election.

Guess who’s coming to dinner?

On 27 April, No 10 reported that Prime Minister Theresa May had met with President Jean-Claude Juncker of the European Commission at Downing Street; a Downing Street spokesperson said:

“The Prime Minister had a constructive meeting this evening with President Juncker of the European Commission. Following the UK’s letter of notification under Article 50, she reiterated the UK’s commitment to achieving a deep and special partnership with the European Union. The Prime Minister and President Juncker also discussed a range of other international issues in a useful working dinner.

However, reporting by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung suggested that the view of Juncker and his team is that the chances of talks failing are “over 50%”. HIs last words to the Prime Minister as he left were: “I’m leaving Downing Street ten times more sceptical than I was before” and he is reported as informing Angela Merkel that May was “on a different galaxy”, prompting her to make a speech in the Bundestag suggesting London drop its “illusions” about the future.

This may be all “Brussels gossip”, as Prime Minister May claims, but the issue is clearly subject to spin from both sides. What is certain, however, is the content of the Guidelines to Delegations issued by the General Secretariat of the Council following the Special meeting of the European Council (Art. 50) on 29 April 2017, which is prefaced:

“Delegations will find attached the guidelines adopted by the European Council1 at the above meeting, following the United Kingdom’s notification under Article 50 TEU”.

These cover: I – Core principles; II – A phased approach to negotiations; III – Agreement on arrangements for an orderly withdrawal; IV – Preliminary and preparatory discussions on a framework for the Union-United Kingdom future relationship; V – Principle of sincere cooperation; VI – Procedural arrangements for negotiations under Article 50.

The Great Irish Bake-off – continued

On Monday, the Belfast Telegraph reported that Ashers Baking had refused to make an engagement cake with a same-sex marriage slogan. We duly reported it here – which generated (by our standards) a hige amount of comment. We are still waiting to see if permission to appeal is granted by the Supreme Court in the earlier case, Lee v McArthur & Ors [2016] NICA 29 – noted here.

Church of England APCMs

For those about to attend their Vestry Meetings for the election of churchwardens under section 4, Churchwardens Measure 2001 and subsequent Annual Parochial Church Meetings under the Synodical Government Measure 1969, the Ecclesiastical Law Society’s Easter 2015 edition of Gospel and Law provided some useful links to the CofE and Charity Commission web pages:

The deadline for holding APCMs is 30 April.

For those seeking some light relief, Archdruid Eileen has posted the Annual Moot Meeting – Agenda, containing issues that will be familiar to the regular attenders at these mandatory legal events in the life of a parish.

Illegal interference with human remains

Last week we made a brief mention of Re Fairmile Cemetery Lower Assendon [2017] ECC Oxf 2, in which McGregor Ch refused to grant a petition for a faculty to exhume and re-inter a body mistakenly buried in a plot within of a block of graves reserved for the same family. The Incorporated Council of Law Reporting has now noted the case: somewhat to our surprise, however, the ICLR fails to mention McGregor Ch’s stern warning at [35] against unauthorised interference with human remains buried in consecrated ground – even where it is done with the connivance of the burial authority.

+Sodor as Mannin

On 4 May we reported that the Prime Ministers Office had announced that the Queen had approved the nomination of the Venerable Peter Andrew Eagles QHC, BA, MTh, AKC, Deputy Chaplain-General HM Land Forces; Archdeacon for the Army, and Honorary Canon of Salisbury Cathedral, for election as Bishop of Sodor and Man in succession to the Right Reverend Robert Mar Erskine Paterson, MA, on his resignation on 11 November 2016.

The Diocese of Sodor and Man issued further details including a Personal Statement on Vocation, Episcopacy, and Mutual Flourishing by Archdeacon Eagles. With regard to Mutual Flourishing, he stated, inter alia:

“as the sole bishop in this diocese (and consistent with Paragraph 11 of the Declaration), and trusting in the grace of God to sustain the increasing number of vocations, I will ordain all who are called to be deacons and priests … I am entirely supportive of [the Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests], which enables women to exercise a full ministry as priests and bishops. The Declaration also allows for a traditionalist who does not ordain women to the priesthood to be a diocesan bishop in any diocese where there is a suffragan to ordain women as priests, and where the will of the diocese for such an appointment is reflected through the Crown Nominations Commission and the consultation process”.

Quick links

And finally…

Another excellent post from the blog of Sir Henry Brooke, former Vice-President of the Civil Division of the Court of Appeal, in which he provides readers with Part II of a Miscellany of the Best Opening Lines etc, including this from the late Lord Rodger of Earlsferry in R v Bentham [2005] UKHL 18:

Dominus membrorum suorum nemo videtur: no-one is to be regarded as the owner of his own limbs, says Ulpian in D.9.2.13. pr. Equally, we may be sure, no-one is to be regarded as being in possession of his own limbs. The Crown argument, however, depends on the contrary, untenable, proposition that, when carrying out the robbery, the appellant had his own fingers in his possession in terms of section 17(2) of the Firearms Act 1968. I agree with my noble and learned friend, Lord Bingham of Cornhill, that for this reason the appeal should be allowed.”

(Though Frank’s all-time favourite is another single-paragraph Alan Rodger judgment, in Secretary of State for the Home Department v AF & Anor [2009] UKHL 28 at [98]:

“I had the advantage of considering the speech of my noble and learned friend, Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, in draft. I agree with it and would accordingly allow the appeals. Even though we are dealing with rights under a United Kingdom statute, in reality, we have no choice: Argentoratum locutum, iudicium finitum – Strasbourg has spoken, the case is closed.”)

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