Strasbourg on Mormons and their temples

UK Human Rights Blog

2787465_d39c5a43THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS v. THE UNITED KINGDOM, ECtHR, 4 March 2014 read judgment

An apparently dry dispute about business rates on one of the Mormons’ temples in Preston (see pic) has reached Strasbourg and raises interesting issues about indirect discrimination on religious grounds. The underlying question was whether the temple was a place of “public religious worship” and therefore exempt from rates. 

 There are over 12 million Mormons in the world, with 180,000 in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Their organisation is important for this application. Local congregations are called wards, and are presided over by a local bishop. Each ward meets in a local chapel. Five to 15 wards constitutes a “stake”. In each stake one of the larger chapels is designated as a stake centre, where meetings from members of all the wards in the stake can take place.

Preston is one…

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Home Office/Security Industry Authority: ‘Revised timetable for business licensing’


On Thursday 27 February, at a meeting of the Security Industry Authority’s (SIA) Strategic Consultative Group, Home Office officials updated representatives of the private security industry on the timetable for introducing business licensing.

The group was told that the Home Office remains committed to introducing business licensing.

The necessary arrangements to allow the SIA to start accepting business licence applications in April 2014 are not yet in place, and therefore the ‘Open for Business’ date has been postponed.

The Home Office will announce a revised business licensing timetable as soon as possible.

The private security industry will be given at least three months’ notice of the ‘Open for Business’ date.

SIA CEO Bill Butler SIA CEO Bill Butler

Revised dates will allow at least six months between the ‘Open for Business’ date and the legal requirement date (when it will become a legal requirement for businesses to hold a licence).

The legal requirement date…

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Cap on housing benefit is lawful, says Court of Appeal

UK Human Rights Blog

Money purse - WalletSG and others, R (on the application of) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, 21 February 2014  [2014] EWCA Civ 156 – read judgment

The Court of Appeal has rejected on all grounds a claim that the cap on housing benefit amounted to unlawful discrimination against women.

The appellants were single mothers who claimed that the regulations capping housing benefit discriminated against women generally, and particularly those who were victims of domestic violence. The Divisional Court had dismissed their application for an annulment of the Benefit Cap (Housing Benefit) Regulations 2012 on the basis that the regulations were in breach of Article 14 of the ECHR read with Article 8, and the same Article read with the right to peaceful enjoyment of possessions under Article 1 Protocol 1. The court below had also rejected their submission that the regulations infringed the UN Convention on the Rights of…

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Top police chief is a landlady on Benefits Street

Yvonne Mosquito, the West Midlands Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner, owns a property on TV’s ‘Benefits Street’
A top police chief owns a house in Birmingham’s controversial Benefits Street, the Mail can reveal.

Yvonne Mosquito, the West Midlands Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner, bought the property in James Turner Street for £30,000 almost 12 years ago.

It is understood the people living in the property have not appeared on the explosive Channel 4 documentary, which has attracted a record number of complaints to TV watchdog Ofcom.

The show is also being looked at by Ms Mosquito’s own West Midlands force after featuring scenes of possible criminal activity including shoplifting, theft and cannabis plants apparently being grown in one house.

Ms Mosquito earns £65,000 per year as deputy to West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Bob Jones.

She is also a Labour councillor for Nechells, for which she receives the basic councillor allowance of £16,267.

Away from her civic and police roles, Ms Mosquito also has a property portfolio.

According to the Land Registry she and husband Winston bought the James Turner Street house in Winson Green in March 2002 for £30,000.

It is understood a number of tenants have lived there since, while Ms Mosquito lives elsewhere in Birmingham.

On her register of interests on the Police and Crime Commissioner website under the term ‘Property’ she lists ‘land’ at Winson Green, Highgate and Sutton Coldfield.

She does not mention James Turner Street, but did list the house in a Birmingham City Council statutory register of members interests in 2003 and 2007.

The show’s first episode was broadcast last Monday and featured prolific shoplifter Danny Smith who boasted of committing 200 offences and having 80 convictions.

It also showed scenes of apparent cannabis plant cultivation in one property.

Viewers also watched a local called Fungi apparently duping unsuspecting members of the public out of cash by flogging free magazines as supposed copies of the Big Issue.

James Turner Street couple Mark Thomas, 23 and Becky Howe, also 23, also talked on camera about being caught cheating their benefits in the first show.

In episode two on Monday, a gang of Romanian manual workers called in police after claiming their passports had been seized and they had not been paid their wages of £10 per day.

Rubbish was also piled up in the street by some residents, with the narrator claiming council rubbish collectors had not visited the road for two weeks – claims the city council later denied.

Last night, a spokesman for the Police and Crime Commissioner office said: ‘‘Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner Yvonne Mosquito is currently on leave and is not available to comment.

‘‘It is a statutory requirement that Police and Crime Commissioners and Deputy Police and Crime Commissioners publish a declaration of interests, including any property held.’’

Meanwhile, it has been confirmed that James Turner Street residents are to take part in a live Question Time-style TV debate about the show. It will be hosted by Channel 4 on February 10 at 10pm and will be chaired by broadcaster Richard Bacon.

The announcement came after 100 residents living in James Turner Street and neighbouring streets in Winson Green attended a meeting at the Oasis Academy school to discuss how they had been depicted by the programme.

Channel 4 has said the debate panellists would represent views across the political spectrum “and crucially those who claim benefits”.

Head of Factual for Channel 4, Ralph Lee said: “[The series] does not and never has set out to reflect the experiences of every person who receives benefits. Yet it has triggered a national debate about state welfare at a time in which further welfare reforms are being proposed.”

The show has sparked intense interest in the residents of James Turner Street after it first aired on January 6. Residents claimed they had been misled by programme makers Love Production, claiming they told them the series would focus on community spirit, not benefits.

Critics have argued the show is not representative of people living on benefits.

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West Midlands Serious Crime Squad in the Dock Again

CCRC Refer Second Martin Foran Conviction to Court of Appeal

Martin Foran, 69, who is terminally ill with cancer, was convicted of robbery in 1978 – a crime he denies. The Court of Appeal will rule on that conviction after a referral by the Criminal Case Review Commission (CCRC). A second 1985 conviction of robbing a Birmingham pub was declared unsafe by the appeal court in April 2013.

Mr Foran, who has never stopped fighting being ‘Fitted up’ by the West Midlands Serious Crime Squad, said he was “very pleased”. He served six years of a 10-year sentence for four counts of robbery. “If it is successful, it will go down in history as a double miscarriage of justice, but I will have to wait and see,” he added. “It has been a long, hard battle to get to this point and I have waited 38 years.”
Although he is dying, Mr Foran said he was determined to “hang in there” for justice. “I won’t give up,” he added. He told the BBC his dying wish was to go to his grave an innocent man.

The CCRC said it referred his 1978 case to the Court of Appeal because it “considers that new evidence raises a real possibility that the court will now quash those convictions”. The commission’s referral is based upon evidence relating to the credibility of officers of the West Midlands Police Serious Crime Squad, who were involved in the case against Mr Foran.”

The West Midlands Serious Crime Squad was a police unit in the West Midlands which operated from 1974 to 1989. It was disbanded after an investigation into allegations against some of its officers of incompetence and abuses of power. Although numerous officers were found to have fitted up many of those they had arrested, not one of them ever spent a minute in prison. 62 known Miscarriages of Justice were later overturned on appeal, including the cases of the Birmingham Six, Bridgewater Four.

BBC News, 13 January 2014

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Fake goods worth nearly USD $1 million seized in Interpol operation


Counterfeit goods worth nearly USD 1 million have been seized in a series of interventions across Eastern Europe as part of Interpol’s Operation White Mercury.

Involving seven countries – Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia – the operation also resulted in the identification of a network spanning three countries involved in the production of fake everyday consumer goods.

An illegal production site manufacturing illicit household detergent was identified in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. In addition to the equipment, more than 10,000 litres of the fake liquid, 60,000 bottles and fake packaging material were seized with the follow-up investigation revealing connections to at least four other illicit manufacturers in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and Greece.

Fake toys, shower gel, cigarettes, vehicle parts, electronics and home appliances were seized across all seven countries. In Albania, an entire counterfeit wine production line was identified and subsequently shut…

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Sri Lanka launches diplomatic offensive ahead of UN rights meet

COLOMBO: Faced with the prospect of a third UN human rights council resolution in as many years, Sri Lanka on Sunday launched a diplomatic offensive to counter international pressure over alleged rights abuses during the final phase of its civil war in 2009.

Brigadier Ruwan Wanigasooriya, the military spokesman, said some eight video documentaries produced by the army had been dispatched to Sri Lankan missions overseas and the UNHRC member states.

“These videos will give real facts about the true situation with regard to allegations levelled by the Channel 4 (British TV) and others,” Wanigasooriya stated adding that “the world will come to know about the many crimes committed by the LTTE”.

The videos are part of the external affairs ministry’s briefings to Colombo’s diplomatic community on the post-conflict developments.

The government has also debunked the figures thrown at it by international agencies including the UN that some 40,000 people were killed in the Tamil-dominated north during the final phase of the 30-year ethnic conflict.

Minister Champika Ranawaka who is a senior figure of the Sinhala nationalist JHU party told Japanese peace envoy Yasushi Akashi that if the army wanted to kill Tamils it would not have accepted the surrender of around 11,000 LTTE cadres four years ago.

Akashi was on a visit last week. Ranawaka told Akashi it was unfair for war crimes charges to be raised against Sri Lanka based on false data.

He said a large number of the Sinhala majority community evicted from the north and east during the LTTE’s separatist campaign had not been allowed to return.

He said that in 1981 there were 20,000 Sinhalese living in the north but today the figure was as low as 800.

Sri Lanka is expected to face its third successive resolution criticizing its human rights record at the UN Human Rights Council next March.

Both previous resolutions urged Sri Lanka for speedier implementation of recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC).

India and US had voted in favour of the resolutions.

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Ministers of Religion: Employment Status

Ministers of Religion: Employment Status

Thanks to James English of Samuel Phillips solicitors for preparing this case summary
Could an ordained minister of the Church of England be an employee or a worker?

Possibly, held the EAT, in Sharpe v The Worcester Diocesan Board of Finance & Others.

The Claimant, a former Rector, brought claims of detriment on grounds of whistleblowing and constructive dismissal. At a pre-hearing review, the employment tribunal held that he was neither an employee nor a worker and therefore they could not hear his claims. The employment tribunal stated that it was not necessary to imply a contract of employment, and the position lacked the necessary element of personal service.

Overturning the employment tribunal’s decision, the EAT reviewed the recent authorities on ecclesiastical offices and employment status, in particular, President of the Methodist Conference v Preston. According to the EAT, it was not a question of implying a contract out of necessity. Various rules and instruments defined the relationship between the minister and the Church. The question was whether these rules were characteristic of a contract, and if they were, was it one of employment. The fact that the relationship was governed in part by canon law did not preclude a contractual relationship. The matter was remitted to a fresh employment tribunal to reconsider the issue.

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Police officers accused of faking evidence against motorist

Constables Steven Henton, 33, and Michael Hayward, also 33, will appear before Worcester magistrates on Monday
Two Birmingham police officers are to appear in court accused of fabricating evidence against a motorist, who was later jailed for possessing a firearm and drugs in an unconnected case.

Constables Steven Henton, 33, and Michael Hayward, also 33, will appear before Worcester magistrates on Monday.

The West Midlands Police officers have been suspended from their jobs pending the conclusion of the criminal proceedings.

The two cops are jointly charged with one count of conspiring to pervert the court of justice, contrary to Section 1 (1) of the Criminal Law Act 1977.

It is understood the case centres around allegations the officers ‘provided false evidence for a criminal prosecution against Oliver Higgins with intent to pervert the course of justice’.

It is alleged the officers provided false evidence in connection with an alleged dangerous driving allegation against Mr Higgins. The offence was alleged to have taken place in June 2012 but Mr Higgins, 26, was acquitted at trial in November 2012.

Oliver Higgins and the van he crashed into a house in Yardley Wood
Worcester Magistrates Court confirmed that Steven Henton and Michael Hayward will appear at the court on Monday.

In a statement, West Midlands Police said: ‘‘Two serving West Midlands Police officers are to appear at Worcester Magistrates Court on Monday 2 December charged with conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

‘‘PC Steven Henton, 33, of Thornby Avenue, Kenilworth and PC Michael Hayward, 33, of Hargrave Road, Shirley, were suspended from duty after being charged on 14 November this year.

‘‘Both officers are based at Solihull Local Policing Unit.

‘‘The matter was initially referred to the IPCC in December 2012 who deemed the case could be investigated locally by West Midlands Police’s Professional Standards Department.’’

In an unconnected case Mr Higgins, of Packhorse Lane, Kings Norton, was jailed for five years in August this year after he admitted possessing a firearm, ammunition and cocaine.

Birmingham Crown Court heard police officers tried to stop Mr Higgins in Chinbrook Road, Yardley Wood, on June 27 this year after receiving intelligence that he had a gun.

The defendant ignored the request and mounted a kerb in a Volkswagen Caddy van, said Mark Phillips, prosecuting.

“They nudged his vehicle so he would lose control,” Mr Phillips said.

“The vehicle veered across the road into a rear garden and ended up in the bay window of a house. He frantically tried to get out. He scrambled out and ran across gardens before being detained by armed officers.”

Mr Phillips said during the pursuit Mr Higgins threw away a bag which contained a US military revolver loaded with six live rounds. Officers who searched his home found 3.49 grammes of cocaine, worth £200, the court was told.

Anthony Bell, defending, said Mr Higgins found himself involved in high-level crime after running up debts with drug dealers.

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Dismissal: Telling the Employee

Thanks to Ed McFarlane of Deminos HR for preparing this case summary.
If an employee’s solicitor informs her of her dismissal a day before the employee reads a dismissal letter, is the effective date of termination the date that the solicitor tells her?

Yes, held the EAT in Robinson v Fairhill Medical Practice (HHJ Burke QC).

The Claimant did not attend a disciplinary hearing and was communicating with her employer through a solicitor due to illness. The employer emailed the solicitor on 6th July to inform her that the Claimant was to be summarily dismissed; the solicitor told the employee of the decision on 7th July; the employee read the dismissal letter on 8th July. At a pre-hearing review, an employment tribunal held that the effective date of termination was 7th July, so the claim for unfair dismissal was struck out as out of time as the claim was presented a day late on 7th October.

The EAT considered the Supreme Court’s decision in Gisda Cyf v Barratt, that dismissal is effective when it is communicated to an employee or she has a reasonable opportunity to know of it, and held that communication of dismissal through a third party suffices, so, as the effective date of termination was 7th July, the Claimant’s appeal failed.

The EAT upheld the appeal against the decision to dismiss the Claimant’s disability discrimination claim as out of time, noting that the fault of the Claimant’s adviser ought not to be held against her as a factor on whether it was just and equitable to extend time, and substituted its own decision for that of the employment tribunal.

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