Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Goodbye 2014

This Blog is now closing down until January 2015 and I thought I would finish with a bit of a look back on a rather depressing year.

The lowest point was undoubtedly the Supreme Court decision in  Greater Glasgow Health Board v Doogan [2014] UKSC 68  which in effect neutered the Conscientious Objection provision in the Abortion Act 1967 and in my view on very questionable legal grounds.  

The high point for me personally was the opportunity to represent Mr Thomas  Monson,  President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the Mormon Church) who was summonsed to answer a private prosecution issued by a disafected ex Mormon Bishop, Mr Tom Philips.  The Summons was described in The Daily Telegraph as "one of the most unusual documents ever issued by a British Court"  and I would certainly agree with that.  

Before I was instructed to act I had been contacted by a reporter from the Arizona Republic Newspaper asking for my response which ended up being syndicated across the US 

Anyway I was involved with other lawyers in getting the case chucked out at the first hearing on the basis that the issues related to religious doctrine and were therefore "Non Justiciable". 

Prior to the hearing I spent some time following ex Mormon Blogs (almost as bad as ex Catholics, leave the Church but refuse to leave it alone) in order to try to understand the logic behind the case.  What became apparent was that the case was based on a fundamental failure to understand the legal and philosophical nature of religious belief. The idea behind the case was that because certain beliefs of the Mormon Church are expressed by the Church as assertions of facts then they could be examined in Court  however that ignores the reality that most religious beliefs are expressed as assertions of fact, "Christ was crucified and rose from the dead", "Mohammed was visited by the Angel Gabriel who said 'recite' (Arabic 'Quran') and the assertions of fact/belief by the Mormon Church are no different in that respect.

Interestingly the question of whether and to what extent issues relating to religious belief are Non Justiciable was considered by the Supreme Court a few months later in  Shergill v Khaira [2014] UKSC 33  which reaffirmed the principle of Non Justiability with just a little bit of tweaking.

During the year I have been paying a bit more attention to my Blog statistics in particular where visitors come from.  Most are from the UK with the US the next most common, I have visitors from France and Germany (Bienveue and Guten Tag) Vistors also come from Australia (G'day sport) and from Canada (Happy Christmas/Joyeux Noel, Hey !)

I also have visitors from Russia and Ukraine though for some reason nobody from Belarus so I wonder what I have done to upset the Belarussians.  Anyway Счастливого Рождества  and щасливого Різдва to my Slavic readers.

The mention of Ukraine and Russia of course inevitably brings up thoughts of the conflict in Eastern Ukraine and the increasing hostility between Russia and Ukraine.  I actually own a map of Europe published in 1913 and it shows what we call Ukraine named as "Little Russia" with Belarus as "White Russia" and Russia proper as "Great Russia"which is why the Tsars were called "Tsar of all the Russias".  The relationship between Ukraine and Russia is therefore an historically close one so making the conflict between them even sadder and no doubt more bitter because family disputes invariably are the bitterest.

And besides Ukraine there is the ongoing Syrian Civil War and the growth of the self styled Islamic State where frankly I doubt if any outsider truly understands what is really going on or the motivations behind all the death and destruction that is happening.

So as I said a depressing year all I can do is to wish you all well and to hope that 2015 will be a good year for you and a better year for the world.

Until then Good Night and God Bless 


umblepie said...

Thank you for keeping us updated on religious legal matters.
As you say very sad result for the Scottish midwives and other pro-life medical staff. I don't understand this decision - is there no redress at all - the House of Lords for example? One further question - the Supreme Court sounds very American, has the English Court of Appeal always been called this? Wishing you a Happy Christmas & New Year.

Neil Addison said...

The Supreme Court replaced the former Judicial Committee of the House of Lords in 2009. It hears appeals from the Court of Appeal and, as in this case, from the Scottish Court of Session

BarabbasFreed said...

Neil, just to say thanks for your blog. I make sure that I drop by from time to time, and find it informative and helpful

Neil Addison said...

Thank You Barabbas for your kind comments. Its nice to get some feedback