Canon Thomas White of St Alphonsus Church, Glasgow, has started a crowdfunding campaign to take Nicola Sturgeon’s government to court over its decision to close places of worship. In two days, he was able to raise £8,000 of the £50,000 required to hire a QC.
Canon White’s appeal follows a statement made by the Scottish Bishops’ Conference last week, calling the SNP Government’s policy as ‘arbitrary and unfair’, citing a lack of evidence and the UK government’s decision not to roll out the same level of restrictions.
Outlining the reason for his legal challenge, he said, mirroring the Bishops’ criticism, that “without any evidence or indeed any justification or explanation, the Scottish Government has impinged our human rights’ – the right of freedom of assembly and freedom of religion as put forward in the European Convention of Human Rights, the Daily Express reported.
“The purpose of these funds is to receive Queen’s Counsel on the draft of legislation which seeks to impinge on our liberties and furthermore seek to achieve a judicial review of the current regulations which seem to have very little regard for the rights of freedom of worship and family life,” he said.
Scotland is the only one of the four nations constituting the UK to have imposed such a severe ban They have put a stop to all in-person services. And though weddings and funerals can continue, they are restricted to a maximum of 20 and 5 attendees respectively.
Christian Concern, the advocacy group, who are also pondering the possibility of legal action against Sturgeon, said in a statement that “churches throughout the UK have demonstrated their responsibility – and indeed their safety – throughout the pandemic.
“It is right that church leaders continue to be trusted to decide if and how to meet, given their local circumstances and the needs of their members.”