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Masts ruling goes to appeal

15 March 2007

by Rachel Harden

AN ESSEX CHURCH and a mobile-phone company are to test ecclesiastical law on phone masts.

The Rector of Chingford, the Revd Tom Page, his churchwardens, and QS4, a company that installs masts, have appealed to the Court of Arches to overturn a Consistory Court ruling last year that stopped a mast from being installed on the spire of St Peter and St Paul, Chingford, as it would relay pornography.

In his ruling, the Diocesan Chancellor of Chelmsford, George Pulman QC, said: “No church bookstall would consider it appropriate to offer for sale ‘top-shelf’ magazines with their images of sexual titillation or impropriety. In my judgement, it is not for the Church to facilitate access to pornography. But this is what the Church would now be doing if these antennae were allowed.”

The party opponent, Stephen Turner, has asked the Archbishop of Canterbury to review the issue of phone masts on any church.

In 2002, the Archbishops’ Council made QS4 the approved mast-installers for the C of E. Guildford Cathedral is among the churches that now have masts. Information provided by the Archbishops’ Council for churches wishing to install a mast states: “Clearly there is a risk with any communication medium that it will be used for ill; but this has to be balanced against the enormous good which can flow from mobile communications — such as emergency calls, or the simple pleasures of people keeping in touch with each other.

“By comparison, the purchase of a BBC TV licence allows access to material that, in the eyes of many, might be unsuitable, particularly for children, but audiences, families, parents, etc., must take responsibility for access to such material. Parishes who feel strongly on this issue should not register with the national scheme.”

A C of E spokesman said that he could not comment as the case was now sub judice.


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