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UK news in brief

14 December 2012

Defiant: a man waves a Union flag from the top of a pillar in Belfast, on Saturday, one of the many protests, some of them violent, against a decision by the Council to restrict the flying of the Union flag from the City Hall

Defiant: a man waves a Union flag from the top of a pillar in Belfast, on Saturday, one of the many protests, some of them violent, against a decisi...

Bishop Hill takes Wycliffe Hall chair

THE Bishop of Bristol, the Rt Revd Mike Hill, has been appointed to chair the council of Wycliffe Hall, the Evangelical theological college in Oxford, with immediate effect. Bishop Hill replaces the Bishop of Chester, Dr Peter Forster, who, with the Principal, the Revd Dr Richard Turnbull, stepped down earlier this year (News, 22 June). Wycliffe Hall said in a statement that Bishop Hill was "a previous member of Hall Council and knows Wycliffe well".

Peers vote to remove 'insulting' from 1986 Act 

THE House of Lords voted on Thursday night, by 150 to 54, to amend Section 5 of the 1986 Public Order Act so that it no longer criminalised insults. A campaign to amend the Act included the Christian Institute, the National Secular Society, and the human-rights activist Peter Tatchell. Mr Tatchell said on Thursday night that the vote was "a sweeping victory for free speech and civil liberties". The Crown Prosecution Service had previously opposed a change in the law; but, in a letter earlier this week to Lord Dear, the former Chief Constable of West Midlands Police, the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC, said: "Having now considered the case law in greater depth, we are unable to identify a case in which the alleged behaviour leading to conviction could not properly be characterised as 'abusive' as well as 'insulting'. I therefore agree that the word 'insulting' could safely be removed without the risk of undermining the ability of the CPS to bring prosecutions."

Bishop Jones to host cuts summit in Liverpool

THE Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt Revd James Jones, and the Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, will host an event next month on the impact of local-government-budget cuts in the city. The event will be held on 18 January at the Arena and Convention Centre. Mr Anderson said: ww"Local government is facing unprecedented reductions in funding which will change for ever the way in which we deliver services. . . We are demanding the Government listen and take notice of the dire situation faced by local authorities, and will be highlighting how their policies are jeopardising the services we provide."

'Mega-mosque' planning permission refused

PLANNING officials in Newham refused to give permission for a mosque to be built in West Ham, east London, last week. Permission was sought by Tablighi Jamaat, a Muslim group, to build the mosque, which would have seated nearly 10,000 worshippers. A council spokesman said that there were "concerns about the size of the proposed buildings and the impact on parking and traffic in the local area".


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