Pemberton v Inwood: licensing of C of E clergy and same sex marriage – a case-note

The Employment Tribunal has found for the respondent in Pemberton v Inwood, Acting Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham [2015] ET 2600962/2014


Canon Jeremy Pemberton married Laurence Cunnington on 12 April 2014. Following subsequent correspondence and a meeting with the respondent, at that time Acting Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham, (“the Bishop”), in June 2014 the respondent revoked Canon Pemberton’s Permission to Officiate in the diocese (PTO). Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Trust had offered Pemberton the post of Chaplaincy and Bereavement Manager; but in order to take it up he required a licence/authorisation (EPML) under the Extra-Parochial Ministry Measure 1967 (EPMM) from the Bishop – who refused to grant it [1]. He did so because he regarded Canon Pemberton’s marriage as contrary to the teachings and law of the Church of England [2]. Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Trust then withdrew its offer.

The claim

It was evidently common ground between the parties that Canon Pemberton was not employed by the Church and that he could not, therefore, bring a claim under s 39 (Employees and applicants) of the Equality Act 2010 [3]: instead, he brought a claim under s 53 (Qualifications bodies) [4]. He also brought a claim of harassment under s 53 in relation to what had happened [10]. Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 8th November

A mixed bag: same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland, possible withdrawal from the ECHR, Jeremy Pemberton loses his employment claim, a couple of interesting consistory cases – and more…

Northern Ireland and same-sex marriage

On Monday, the Northern Ireland Assembly debated a joint SDLP-Sinn Féin private Member’s motion calling on the Executive to table legislation to allow for same-sex marriage. The motion was carried by a margin of one vote – Ayes 53: Noes 52 – but because the Democratic Unionists had invoked another “petition of concern”, as on previous occasions when the matter has been discussed, the motion was negatived because it did not have cross-community support.

Dominic Grieve on withdrawal from the ECHR

The Justice Sub-Committee of the House of Lords Select Committee on the European Union has published an unrevised transcript of evidence from Aidan O’Neill QC, Dominic Grieve QC MP and Martin Howe QC in the course of its inquiry into the impact on EU law of repealing the Human Rights Act. In the course of the hearing, Dominic Grieve confirmed our own suspicions about the legal consequences of withdrawal: Continue reading

Employment tribunal finds in favour of Bishop

The Diocese of Southwell & Nottingham has issued the following Press Release.

Employment tribunal finds in favour of Bishop

The Employment Tribunal that heard the case brought by Jeremy Pemberton against Bishop Richard Inwood has released its findings, dismissing all the claims brought against the Bishop.

A spokesperson for the Diocese of Southwell & Nottingham said: “We are thankful to the tribunal for its work on this complex case and for its findings in favour of the former Acting Diocesan Bishop, the Rt Revd Richard Inwood, on all the claims made against him.

“We recognise that it has been a long and difficult process for all concerned, and we continue to hold them in our thoughts and prayers.

“Churches across the diocese continue to offer a generous welcome to people from all backgrounds. We remain engaged in the on-going shared conversations across the wider Church of England that are exploring questions relating to human sexuality.”

Read the full ruling here


The Church Times has a short report of the ruling, and Thinking Anglicans has a summary of the initial media comment. Continue reading

New EU Citizens’ Initiative to “protect marriage and family”

Launch of European Citizens’ Initiative for EU legislation to impose traditional view of marriage

The new ECI

On 15 October 2015, a “citizens’ committee[1] submitted an official request to the European Commission to register the European Citizens’ Initiative, ECI, MUM, DAD & KIDS. This request, which represents the first stage in the ECI process outlined below, is the official registering of this initiative by the European Commission. The Commission has until 15 December 2015 to give its response and a positive response will trigger the official gathering of signatures for the petition.

Based upon the premise “the family is the building block for the whole of society”, Article 16(3), Universal Declaration of Human Rights, (UDHR), the Citizens’ Committee suggests that “[i]t is for this reason that the founders of the European Union ensured that the subsidiarity principle applied to everything to do with the family, which is the exclusive responsibility of Member States.” However, since “the conception of marriage and the family is the subject of increasingly divergent views from one European country to another,” it concludes that it is becoming “no longer clear what is meant, European texts are becoming impossible to interpret and apply”, and consequently [emboldening in original]:

“[t]he EU has therefore an urgent need for clear and precise definitions of marriage and the family. Of course, it is necessary that these definitions should contribute to European unity by being based on the common foundation of all Member States, that which reflects the universal reality of humanity – marriage between man and woman, and the binds [sic] of father, mother, child.” Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 18th October

Two difficult medical cases,  an announcement on the devolution of abortion law, same-sex marriage in the Isle of Man – and more…

Can parents choose alternative remedies against medical advice?

In JM (a child), Re [2015] EWHC 2832 (Fam) a ten-year-old child, J, has a very rare aggressive cancer in his right jawbone. The NHS Trust sought permission to perform urgent surgery: his parents want to use Chinese medicine instead. The unambiguous medical evidence before the court was that, without surgery, in six months to a year J would die “a brutal and agonising death”. Mostyn J found for the NHS Trust:

“The NHS trust has permission to provide and administer all treatment to J (notwithstanding that his parents do not consent to such treatment on behalf of J) in accordance with the treatment plan supplied to the court and appended to this order” [18].

Since UKHRB has posted a full note of the case there is no point in us writing another one.

Vincent Lambert and the right to life Continue reading

The future of civil partnership in Scotland

Yesterday saw the launch of an on-line consultation on the future of civil partnership in Scotland. The publication, Review of Civil Partnership – A consultation by the Scottish Government, follows the coming into force of the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014 and the introduction of same-sex marriage. The options under consideration are:

  • no change, with civil partnerships remaining available to same-sex couples only; or
  • changing the law so that no new civil partnerships could be entered into in future; or
  • introducing opposite-sex civil partnership.

Continue reading

Religion and law round-up – 20th September

A week in which we had the first hints of possible registration for religion, confusion about the next Lambeth Conference and a certain degree of reassurance that incense is not a “legal high”

Registering “faith leaders”?

Last Sunday The Telegraph carried a report by Andrew Gilligan of a leaked draft of the Home Office’s new counter-extremism strategy which suggested that it would set up a “national register of faith leaders”, who would be subject to government-specified training and security checks. According to the report,

“The strategy … says that Whitehall will ‘require all faiths to maintain a national register of faith leaders’ and the Government will ‘set out the minimum level of training and checks’ faith leaders must have to join the new register. Registration will be compulsory for all faith leaders who wish to work with the public sector, including universities … In practice, most faith leaders have some dealings with the public sector and the requirement will cover the great majority. The move marks a significant deepening of the state’s involvement in religion and is likely to be resisted by many religious representatives.”

The Telegraph reports a spokesman for the Roman Catholic Church as saying that the Church had not been consulted on the proposals and that “other senior Catholic sources” had said that any plan for state supervision of priests would be “firmly resisted”.

Whether or not any of this turns into actual proposals for legislation remains to be seen: but it does prompt the question, at least in our minds, “Exactly what is a faith leader”? A bishop? – presumably “yes”. But the leader of a house-church in a village in the Midlands? The Clerk of a Quaker Local Meeting? Hmm. (As to the latter, the same thought has evidently occurred to Cranmer.)

Equal civil partnerships

Charles Keidan and Rebecca Seinfeld have announced that their judicial review hearing has been set down for 19 and 20 January 2016. They are seeking a review of the refusal of the London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport to allow them to register an opposite-sex civil partnership, on the grounds that the decision was unfair and discriminatory.

Continue reading