Law and religion round-up – 24th December

And before you settle down to turkey, mince pies, crackers and possibly Mrs Brown’s Strictly Come Bake-off Yuletide Special, a bit of law… 

Undue spiritual influence again

Lutfur Rahman, a non-practising solicitor who had formerly been a partner at McCormacks Law, is the former Mayor of Tower Hamlets who In 2015 was found guilty by an election court of illegal and corrupt practices and barred from holding office for five years. We reported the case here because one of the issues in Erlam & Ors v Rahman & Anor [2015] EWHC (QB) 1215 was “undue spiritual influence”. Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 25th June

Factual rather than “patriotic” coverage of the week’s events…

EU-UK Brexit talks

Whilst it is premature to comment extensively on the Brexit talks between the UK and the EU, one outcome of Monday’s meeting was agreement on the EU’s insistence on “sequencing”. Article 50 TFEU envisages two agreements: an exit agreement concerning issues relating to the departure of the UK from the EU and an agreement on future relations, which for the UK essentially means trade. David Allen Green comments: ”The UK want(ed) both to be negotiated together, in parallel. The EU wanted a number of preliminary issues discussed before the parties moved on to discussing future trade relations”. The UK’s insistence on “sequencing” was likely to be, in the words of David Davis, “the row of the summer”. However, the EU chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, stated:

“In a first step, we will deal with the most pressing issues. We must lift the uncertainty caused by Brexit. We want to make sure that the withdrawal of the UK happens in an orderly manner. Then, in a second step, we will scope our future relationship.”

This was confirmed by the Department for Exiting the European Union.

The Queen’s Speech and the Great Repeal Bill

The Government’s intention as announced in the Gracious Speech on Wednesday is that the (evidently no longer “Great”) Repeal Bill will allow for a smooth and orderly transition as the UK leaves the EU, ensuring that, wherever practical, the same rules and laws apply after Brexit as before it. The Bill will: Continue reading

Churches, hustings and the General Election: updated

Campaigning by charities during elections and referendums is governed by Part VI (Controls relating to third party national election campaigns) Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000, which must be read in conjunction with Part 2 (Non-party campaigning etc) Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Act 2014. The 2014 Act was clearly intended to operate in conjunction with the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011; and the fact that its operation has been suspended to allow for a snap General Election on 9 June has rather confused the issue. But be that as it may, the rules in relation to pre-Election campaigning have now kicked in and churches, faith-groups and others need to be very careful about observing them: Greenpeace was fined £30,000 for refusing to register as a third-party campaigning organisation under the 2014 Act in the run-up to the 2015 election. Continue reading

“Snap” General Election

Motion for early election announced 

Following the ruling of the Divisional Court of Queen’s Bench [Thomas LCJ, Etherton MR and Sales LJ] on R (Miller & Anor) v The Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union [2016] EWHC 2768 (Admin) we observed there were a number of commentators who had suggested that this might result in the Prime Minister calling a “snap” election. However, on the Andrew Marr show she had expressed her “absolute certainty” that there wouldn’t be a General Election before 2020, here. Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 19th February

A week dominated by THAT vote in Synod…

The week in Synod

The Rt Rev David Walker, Bishop of Manchester, prefaced the week with a tweet:

“For half term week the C of E sets up a special holiday club called Synod, where we try to play nicely with all the other girls and boys”.

Whether they did “play nicely” was not easy to discern; Continue reading

Further information on election fraud …

…but MPs given only cursory briefing on “undue spiritual influence”

Following the publication last month of the independent report by Sir Eric Pickles on election fraud, Securing the Ballot, we asked the question “Undue spiritual influence” – where next?. We suggested that given the “maintain the status quo” conclusion of the report, there is a possibility that Sir Eric’s suggestions might be destined for the Government’s “Pending/Do Not Disturb” tray, along with caste discrimination, cohabitation, lack of burial space &c. Caste discrimination appears to be working its way to the top of these tasks with the promise of a public consultation.

With regard to election fraud, however, on 5 September 2016, the House of Commons Library published Electoral Fraud since 2010 [“the Briefing Paper”] which: Continue reading

“Undue spiritual influence” – where next?

Implications of independent report on electoral fraud and “undue spiritual influence”

On 12 August, the Cabinet Office published the independent report (*the Report”) of Sir Eric Pickles, former Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. Sir Eric had been asked by the previous government to consider what further changes were needed to make the electoral system more secure in light of the 2015 Tower Hamlets election court judgment and the consequent disqualification of the elected mayor for a number of corrupt and illegal practices. The Report, Securing the Ballot, includes recommendations about how the government can prevent such crimes in the UK. Continue reading