Australian Royal Commission recommends lifting seal of confessional

The Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has published its final recommendations on Criminal Justice. One is of particular interest: the section entitled Failure to report offence recommends “the introduction of a new criminal offence of failure to report targeted at child sexual abuse in an institutional context (recommendation 33)”. In particular, it proposes that clergy should no longer be permitted to refuse to disclose offending on the grounds that they came by the information in the course of a confession:

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Charity Commission inquiry report: New Moston Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses


The Charity Commission is currently conducting a statutory inquiry into the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Britain (WTBTSB), which began in May 2014. Its scope includes the creation, development, substance and implementation of the safeguarding policy used by Jehovah’s Witnesses congregational charities in England and Wales and the safeguarding advice provided to those congregational charities. We have noted the progress of this inquiry on previous occasions, most recently here.

The Commission has also conducted a separate inquiry into Manchester New Moston Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses (registered charity number 1065201); and it has now published a statement on the results that inquiry. Continue reading

“Misconduct in Public Office” revisited

Publication of An Abuse of Faith – the independent report by Dame Moira Gibb into the Church’s handling of the Bishop Peter Ball case – prompted a number of comments concerning possible follow-up actions in relation to Lord Carey’s involvement.  Continue reading

Conservative religious views, parental access, the ECHR – and blogging: A v Cornwall Council

In a rather unusual case, Dingemans J has had to consider whether the moral attitudes – as revealed by his blog posts – of a father who was estranged from the mother of his son supported the Family Court’s decision not to allow him parental access.

The background

In A v Cornwall Council [2017] EWHC 842 (QB), A believed that abortion and same-sex relationships were both wrong. A’s relationship with M had broken down and he was refused contact with their son, S. A claimed that the Council had prevented him having direct contact and had not supported his application to have S live with him because of the views he had blogged about abortion and same-sex marriage – and that the Council had violated his Convention rights. The Council denied the claim and said that it had conducted proper safeguarding inquiries about S and had made proper recommendations to the Family Court that had taken the relevant decisions [1]. Continue reading