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St Paul’s Chapter responds as Appeal Court considers ruling

by
15 February 2012

by Ed Thornton

A SENIOR judge will decide on Wednesday whether to allow the protesters outside St Paul’s Cathedral to appeal against a High Court ruling that they should leave (News, 20 January).

In the Court of Appeal on Monday, three judges, headed by the Master of the Rolls, Lord Neuberger, considered applications from five protesters for permission to appeal against Mr Justice Lindblom’s High Court ruling last month.

John Cooper QC, representing the pro­test­ers, said that the High Court ruling had been “more extreme and more draconian than was necessary”; he also argued that the presence of the camp did not prevent the access for worshippers to St Paul’s.

Mr Cooper said that the High Court judge had “simply accepted what the City [of London Corporation] wanted and rubber-stamped it. We submit this should not have been a rubber-stamping exercise, but a rigorous considera­tion of the alternatives.”

After the hearing, one of the applicants, George Barda, told Reuters that the judge’s decision to postpone a decision until Wednes­day had “at the very least . . . assured us an extra nine days in the camp. So fingers crossed that they will actually allow us to bring an appeal. It seems today that they were genuinely interested in engaging with the actual substance of this movement which the previous court [the High Court] singularly failed to do.”

On Monday, the Chapter of St Paul’s responded to a letter, signed by 15 clerics and theologians, published last week, asking it to make a public statement of opposition to a forced eviction of the protesters (News, 10 February). The letter asked that “appropriate steps” be taken “to safe­guard vulnerable resident occupiers”.

A letter signed on behalf of the Chapter by the Canon Pastor, the Rt Revd Michael Colclough, said: “We very much agree with Occupy and the Corporation about the priority of caring for vulnerable people whenever and however the camp disbands. We also believe that it is the responsibility of all parties in­volved to behave peacefully in respect of the law.”

The letter defended the Chapter’s submis­sion of evidence to the High Court: “When asked by the court what effects this camp has had day and night on our work, staff, neighbours, and locality we were obliged to tell the truth.” It said that the Chapter had “worked very hard to negotiate a peaceful resolution”, which it was still committed to doing “through weekly meetings at which representatives from Occupy and the City Corporation meet with us at the cathedral”.

On Saturday, protesters left a camp outside Sheffield Cathedral. An eviction hearing would have taken place on Tuesday if the protesters had remained on the site. The BBC reported the Dean of Sheffield, the Very Revd Peter Bradley, as saying that the cathedral would not seek legal costs, which amounted to about £10,000, from the Occupy camp.

The letter defended the Chapter’s submis­sion of evidence to the High Court: “When asked by the court what effects this camp has had day and night on our work, staff, neighbours, and locality we were obliged to tell the truth.” It said that the Chapter had “worked very hard to negotiate a peaceful resolution”, which it was still committed to doing “through weekly meetings at which representatives from Occupy and the City Corporation meet with us at the cathedral”.

On Saturday, protesters left a camp outside Sheffield Cathedral. An eviction hearing would have taken place on Tuesday if the protesters had remained on the site. The BBC reported the Dean of Sheffield, the Very Revd Peter Bradley, as saying that the cathedral would not seek legal costs, which amounted to about £10,000, from the Occupy camp.

The Contextual Theology Centre (CTC) has published a four-week course, Call to Change, which contains Bible studies and practical activ­ities, to introduce Christians to community organising. The course is produced in partner­ship with Citizens UK, the national commun­ity organ­ising group.

In the introduction to the course, the director of CTC, Canon Angus Ritchie, writes: “Call to Change is built around the story of the Prophet Nehemiah. Like us, he lived in a broken city. Like us, God called him up to rebuild his city — physically econom­ically and spiritually. Through Nehemiah’s story, the course introduces the methods of community organising, and shows how they help us to respond a faithfully and powerfully to God’s call today.”

calltochange.org

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