Law and religion round-up – 11th March

IICSA begins hearings on the Church of England, Ireland clears the way for a referendum on abortion and the President of the Supreme Court tackles the vexed question of niqabs in court.

Lady Hale on religious dress

The Supreme Court website has posted the text of Lady Hale’s Sultan Azlan Shah Lecture, given at Oxford in January, on religious dress and, in particular, on the vexed issue of Muslim women wearing niqab veils in court. In a nutshell: Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 4th March

Coroners, IICSA, diversity, pews – and some of the more puzzling things that people do in church… 

Coronial jurisdiction and the “cab-rank rule”

As readers will recall, the decision of HM Coroner for Inner North London, Ms Mary Hassell, not to prioritise the release of a body for burial to meet the religious needs of the deceased or the deceased’s family, even when doing so would cause no material disadvantage to others, has been challenged by the Adath Yisroel Burial Society and a judicial review hearing is due to take place on 27 and 28 March before Singh LJ.

Joshua Rozenberg reports on the latest state of play in Legal Cheek [see the second part of his post]. Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 18th February

A week in which it appeared that some people seemed to think that attracting children into church was something to be discouraged…

HM Senior Coroner for Inner North London again

The Law Society Gazette reports that Jeremy Corbyn has entered the fray over the “cab-rank rule” adopted by HM Senior Coroner for Inner North London, Mary Hassell, for processing deaths in her coronial district. According to the report, he and the Shadow Attorney, Emily Thornberry, have written to the Chief Coroner, HHJ Lucraft QC, to the effect that Ms Hassell’s approach is “unacceptable” and that grieving relatives are experiencing “unnecessary delays and barriers to laying loved ones to rest”. Continue reading

‘Cab rank rule’ for burials to be reviewed

The Law Society Gazette reports that, in a judgment handed down on 2 February, the High Court granted an application by the Adath Yisroel Burial Society to seek a judicial review of the policy of the Senior Coroner for Inner North London, Mary Hassell, in applying the “cab rank” rule to burials and refusing to prioritise Jewish and Muslim burials. Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 14th January

Reforming the coronial system, school lunches in France, smacking children in Wales, screening Star Wars in Stornoway – 2018 is in full swing…

…and following that comment directed at certain countries by President Trump (referred to by the BBC as “a disparaging remark”), the Revd Jody Stowell suggested that many vicars would be pondering whether they can quote him verbatim in their Sunday sermon. Baroness Jenkin of Kennington was not so constrained in the Thursday HL debate on Social Media. Prefaced by “please, my Lords, forgive the unparliamentary language and block your ears if you are sensitive or easily offended”, she repeated offensive comments made to Tory candidates during the last election; Hansard reported her speech without resort to circumlocution or asterisks.


In Inertia on inquests, Joshua Rozenberg returns to the question of the disappearance of the review of coroner services launched by the MoJ in October 2015. Everyone assumes that the overwhelming response Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 31st December

and so, as the reality of the Article 50 of time confronts the fantasy of “excruciating detail”, we round off another year of L&RUK with a miscellany of recent news…

What the rule of law is really about

On 22 December, the First President of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Poland, Professor Dr Małgorzata Gersdorf, published an open letter on the recent reforms of the judiciary. President Andrzej Duda has signed into law two bills reforming the Supreme Court and the National Council of the Judiciary: one allows politicians to choose members of the judiciary council, which appoints judges and the other, by lowering the retirement age for Supreme Court judges, would remove about 40 per cent of the current Court.

Continue reading

Scattering Ian Brady’s ashes (updated)

The inquest into the death of the remaining “Moors Murderer”, Ian Brady, commenced on 16 May 2017, and the BBC reported that his ashes would not to be scattered at Saddleworth Moor, the burial place of many of their victims. Senior coroner Christopher Sumner is reported as saying that “he knew he did not have the legal power to make such a request but believed it was the ‘correct moral judgement'”.  Continue reading