New user? Register here:
Email Address:
Password:
Retype Password:
First Name:
Last Name:
Existing user? Login here:
 
 
UK >

High Court rules that police officer cannot be ordained

by Paul Wilkinson

Posted: 03 Oct 2014 @ 12:24

iSTOCK

Click to enlarge
Credit: iSTOCK

A POLICE officer, PC Andrew Birks, has lost his legal battle to leave the Metropolitan Police so that he can receive Holy Orders.

PC Birks was due to be made deacon last Sunday, but Scotland Yard has refused to accept his resignation while he is under investigation over the death of prisoner.

Last week, in the High Court, Mrs Justice Lang rejected his request to be allowed to leave. "The public interest requires that he should remain in the force to answer any charges of misconduct which may be brought against him," she said.

PC Birks was the senior officer present at Brixton Police Station, south London, when Sean Rigg was arrested for assault in 2008. Mr Rigg, a musician, suffered a heart attack, and an inquest jury found that the police had used "unsuitable" force after his detention.

Senior officers initially agreed to allow PC Birks to resign, but changed their decision after the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPPC) said that this would allow him to avoid potential disciplinary proceedings.

In August, PC Birks applied for a judicial review of the decision. The judge said: "If he is not ordained on that date, he will not be able to take up the office of curate in the parish of Portslade, Sussex, and will have to vacate the church accommodation which he and his partner are already occupying."

The court heard that PC Birks, who completed a three-year theology degree in June, decided to become a priest in 2001, but joined the police after he was advised to get experience to equip him for the demands of ministry.

The judge said that the case was "exceptional": the PC was required, against his wishes, to remain a serving police officer for an indeterminate period of time - which could be two or three years if the IPCC found that there was a case to answer. During that time, he would not be able to work as a police officer or in any other position.

After the judgment, the Metropolitan Police said that it recognised "the personal impact that this decision has had on PC Birks. There has been much speculation about what took place on the night that Mr Rigg died, but what is important now is that there is a full and thorough investigation based on evidence to finally establish the facts."

Mr Rigg's sister, Marcia Rigg-Samuel, said that his family hoped that the decision would set a precedent for others "who face the same dilemma as my family, following a death in custody". She also called for a change in the law to make it mandatory for officers to remain in post while misconduct investigations were ongoing.

Chichester diocese said that Mr Birks's ordination had been postponed "indefinitely", but declined to comment further.

Job of the week

2 x House for Duty posts

West Midlands

2 x House for Duty posts, Ross-on-Wye A flourishing benefice with an established H4D tradition in a great location. Details: www.hereford.anglican.org or contact the Rector informally: sarah.jones@...  Read More

Signup for job alerts
Top feature

Still singing when the snowman melted

Still singing when the snowman melted

From angelic chorister to daytime-television presenter, Aled Jones will be forever associated with The Snowman. He talks to Sarah Meyrick  Subscribe to read more

Top comment

The theology behind Renewal and Reform

The programme rests on solid foundations, rooted in scripture and tradition, says Jeremy Worthen  Read More

Fri 9 Dec 16 @ 20:45
.@theresa_may endorses adage that a Christian is either a "missionary or an imposter" https://t.co/ncOYSTGLL1

Fri 9 Dec 16 @ 19:15
'We believe they have a pressing moral duty to alleviate the damage the disruption is causing to our communities' https://t.co/lijebGqY1d