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20 December 2010

Gay marriage bid goes to the European Court

EIGHT British couples were due to file an application to the European Court of Human Rights on Tuesday (21 December), calling for the bans on marriage between same-sex couples and heterosexual civil partnerships in the UK to be overturned. It is part of the Equal Love campaign organised by the gay-rights activist Peter Tatchell, who described the current situation as “a form of sexual apartheid”. Four gay couples, including the Revd Sharon Ferguson, chief executive of the Lesbian and Gay Chris­tian Movement, have had requests for marriage licences turned down over the past four months, while four hetero­sexual couples who applied for civil partnerships were also turned down.

Second preacher wins damages

POLICE in Cumbria have agreed to pay Dale Mcalpine, a Free Church preacher from Workington, £7000 in damages, after accepting that he was wrongfully arrested and unlawfully imprisoned in April this year. Mr Mcalpine was arrested in Work­ington town centre by a police community support officer when he said he believed homosexuality was a sin, though his sermon did not mention the issue. Charges under Section Five of the Public Order Act were later dropped. This follows a similar case earlier this month, in which Anthony Rollins received compensation from West Mid­lands Police (News, 17 December).

Christmas divorce sale ‘tacky’, says Bishop

THE Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd John Pritchard, has criticised an Oxford law firm, Hine, for advertising a half-price offer for divorce cases in January. Bishop Pritchard described the promotion, which cuts fees from £800 to £400, as “tacky. . . Couples in distress could do without that kind of encouragement.” Katie Lowndes, of Hine Solicitors, said: “Divorce is a big life-changing move, and shouldn’t be taken light-heartedly.”

Cleric given suspended sentence

A CLERIC who was last month found guilty of downloading indecent images of children was given a suspended sentence last week. The judge said that be­cause the Revd Dominic Stone, formerly Team Vicar in the Uttoxeter Team, in the diocese of Lichfield, had admitted his guilt and was seeking help to curb his behaviour (News, 12 November), a suspended sentence was fitting.

C of E contracts out repairs on retired-clergy homes

THE Church of England Pensions Board has signed a three-year contract with Sanctuary Group, the housing provider, to manage repairs, main­tenance, and improvement works on the 1200 properties it owns that house retired clergy. The contract will begin in January.

Chichester appoints Baroness to review abuse allegations

THE diocese of Chichester has appointed Baroness Butler-Sloss to investi­gate how it has dealt with allegations of sex abuse and has supported victims. The investigation comes after two clerics, the late Roy Cotton and Colin Pritchard, jailed for five years in 2008, were allowed to work at churches in East Sussex (News, 29 October).

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