Sunday, 17 February 2013

Arrest the (Ex Pope) ? Here we go Again

With the imminent retirement of Pope Benedict the "Usual Suspects" have been lining up to allege his Guilt in alleged "Crimes Against Humanity" and the possibility of a retired Pope being arrested.  This is a subject I have Blogged about in the past and in order to avoid simply repeating myself I refer those interested to my earlier Blogs

15 September 2011 Put the Pope in the Dock - 2

Monday, 26 July 2010 A World-wide Criminal Conspiracy ?

Friday, 9 April 2010 Put the pope in the dock ?

Monday, 5 July 2010 Doe v Holy See - Not as Important as it appears

Please all Note that "Crimes Against Humanity" are defined in International Law under
Article 7 of the Rome Statute which defines "Crimes against Humanity" as follows (my emphasis)
"For the purpose of this Statute, "crime against humanity" means any of the following acts when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack"

As I have previously pointed out even the worst allegations against Pope Benedict or the Church do not reach the level of being an "attack directed against any civilian population" 

As  I said last year
Q; Is the Church, the Vatican or the Pope above the law ?

A;   No All three are answerable to National or International law. However just as they are not above the Law they should not be treated as below the law or not deserving of the normal rules and protections of the law. Therefore critics who accuse the Church, the Pope or the Vatican of crimes should have to justify their criticisms by applying normal legal rules

Friday, 15 February 2013

Papal Conclave

For those who may be interested in the legal procedures which will lead to the election of the Next Pope the Catholic Truth Society has made available a Free Download of its excellent Booklet on the subject

Well worth a read and congratulations to CTS for providing this useful information without charge

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Heafield v Times Newspapers - Religious Harassment

In the case of Heafield v Times Newspaper Limited [2013] UKEAT 1305_12_1701 the Employment Appeal Tribunal had to consider whether there had been Religious Harassment contrary to Reg 5 of the Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003 

 (1) For the purposes of these Regulations, a person (“A”) subjects another person (“B”) to harassment where, on grounds of religion or belief, A engages in unwanted conduct which has the purpose or effect of -
(a) violating B’s dignity; or
(b) creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive  environment for B.

(Thus regulation has now been replaced by s26 Equality Act 2010

(1) A person (A) harasses another (B) if—
(a) A engages in unwanted conduct related to (Religion or Belief), and
(b) the conduct has the purpose or effect of—
(i) violating B's dignity, or
(ii) creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for B.

The facts of the case were that Mr Heathfield was a casual sub-editor on the Times newspaper and is a Roman Catholic.  He was working at the Times during the visit to the United Kingdom of the Pope in 2010. 

One evening the Times was preparing a story about the Pope and there was some delay. One of the editors in the newsroom shouted across to the senior production executives “can anyone tell what’s happening to the f***ing Pope ?”.  When there was no response he repeated the question more loudly.  The Appellant was upset and offended what he heard.  He raised a complaint, which in his view was not properly progressed, and he then brought a claim in the Employment Tribunal for harassment and victimisation on the grounds of his religious belief.

The Times claimed that the phrase "the ** Pope" referred to the subject of the Article and was a common way of referring to articles by their subject matter.  The Tribunal held that the remark was not directed at Mr Heathfield and in the context was not said  "on grounds of religion or belief" therefore the claim was not made out.

Very much a decision on its own specific facts this case does demonstrate the difficulties of making out a claim of Harassment based simply on general anti-religious comments in the workplace but which are not specifically aimed at any individual