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Methodists consider the ethics of drone attacks

13 July 2012

by a staff reporter

THE Methodist Church has called on the Government to exert pressure on the United States to ban its drone attacks on terrorist targets.

A report to the Methodist Conference last week, in Plymouth, said that between 1717 and 2680 people had been killed by US drone attacks since 2004. It is not known how many of these were innocent civilians.

Drones - unmanned aircraft - are used to carry out targeted attacks on terrorist suspects, most frequently in north Pakistan.

A Methodist policy adviser, Steve Hucklesby, who is a member of the working group that put together the report debated at Conference, said: "If there is a legitimate use for this technology, we need a much clearer idea of the boundaries for its use. Terrorists function outside the law. It is vitally important that the UK and its allies do not do so as well. The targeted killings carried out by the CIA in northern Pakistan de- monstrate only too clearly the ethical challenges that will face us as this technology proliferates more widely."

The Conference also debated a report on the number of Fresh Expressions. Latest figures say that more than 40,000 people attend some form of Fresh Expression once a month.

Fresh Expressions is a joint initiative with the Church of England.

THE President of the Methodist Conference was granted permission to appeal to the Supreme Court against a decision of the Court of Appeal last December, that Haley Anne Preston (née Moore), an ordained minister of the Methodist Church, was an "employee" of the Church, writes Shiranikha Herbert, Legal Correspondent.

In June 2009, Mrs Preston resigned from her post of Superintendent Minister to the Redruth Circuit in Cornwall, and in 2009 she began proceedings against the Church for unfair constructive dismissal.

The Employment Tribunal ruled that it had no jurisdiction to hear her complaint, because she was not an "employee" for the purposes of the Employment Rights Act 1996. Mrs Preston appealed to the Employment Appeal Tribunal, which held that she was an "employee". The Court of Appeal agreed with the Employment Appeal Tribunal.

The Supreme Court is the final appeal court in the UK; and its decision on whether Mrs Preston is an employee of the Methodist Church will have repercussions for other denominations.

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