Campaigning by charities (and Churches) during elections

It has been confirmed that so-called “purdah”, the pre-election period during which there are restrictions on contacts with civil servants and campaigning by charities – which include religious charities, whether they are registered with the Charity Commission for England & Wales or not – will begin tomorrow: Saturday 22 April. 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

“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

Religion and law round-up – 10th May

A surprisingly quiet week, in which the reserved judgment in the Ashers Bakery case was put back from 7 May – possibly because there was something else going on…

General Election 2015

There is little to say that hasn’t by now already been said, except that the Charity Commission is apparently investigating a complaint that a religious charity indulged in party-political campaigning. However, there’s always the BBC’s Election quiz: How well have you been paying attention? with a reprise of the some of the trivia you may have missed – David certainly did.

On a more serious note, the fact that David Cameron has been able to form a majority Government presumably means that any radical reform of the House of Lords – Lords Spiritual included – is now off the agenda until 2020. Yesterday the BBC reported that Chris Grayling was to be replaced as Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary by Michael Gove and it remains to be seen what will happen to the Human Rights Act 1998 and UK adherence to the European Convention on Human Rights under the new regime. For a reaction to the change of government see Adam Wagner’s post on RightsInfoThe Election Result Means Big Changes Are Coming For Human Rights. Continue reading

Allegation of political campaigning by Plymouth Brethren Christian Church

Civil Society News reports that the Charity Commission is investigating allegations that members of the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church provided campaigning and leafleting support for Conservative candidates and held prayer services for a Conservative victory at the General Election. The Church (otherwise known as the Exclusive Brethren) is a charity; and it is a basic principle of charity law that charities may not undertake party-political campaigns. Continue reading

“Spiritual influence” and the law

Background

In our February post “Spiritual influence” and elections, we considered the early case law and the current statutes relating to “spiritual injury” within section 115 Representation of the People Act 1983, as amended. We suggested that there were some difficulties in the extrapolation of early case law on this issue to present-day situations, but noted that some aspects of “clerical influence” identified by O’Brien J in Dalton v Fulham[1] appeared to fall within the “non-party campaigning” provisions of the Transparency of Lobbying (etc) Act 2014.

A project to review electoral law was announced by the Law Commission on 19 July 2011 and on 9 December 2014, in conjunction with the Scottish Law Commission and the Northern Ireland Law Commission, it launched the joint consultation Electoral Law which reviews UK electoral law, including “spiritual influence”, and makes provisional proposals or asks questions about its reform. The consultation closed on 31 March 2015. Continue reading