More Erosion of Ancient Freedom

A new EU directive planned to hit this country and the rest of Europe in about 2011 will reverse the ancient British principle of “innocent until proven guilty”.

At our Costa Del Soul at Costa Coffee on Sunday night we heard from Andrew Dodd who is both the pastor of a church and a Crown Prosecutor. Among the many points he mentioned, he explained the difference between the British system where the accused is innocent until proven guilty in an adversarial system of discovery of the truth, and the continental European system. Little did I know then that things are set to change in 2011.

The European Commission has drafted an anti-discrimination Directive that is now in its final stage of amendment, before being imposed on the UK and all other Member States of the European Community. Although termed ‘Equal Treatment’, its secularist impact is highly likely to subdue Christian debate and witness, and reduce freedom of speech generally to a degree not experienced in the UK for centuries.

Although covering age and disability, its reach into religion and sexual orientation will impact to varying extents on Christian bodies of all kinds, as well as individual believers. Threatened and direct civil action through the courts with unlimited compensation for aggrieved parties may severely hamper or destroy established Christian mission and voluntary bodies, and potentially handicap church ministries. For organisations and associations affected, internal rules would have to change that could open the way for membership criteria challenges.

The Assumption of Guilt:

The principle of Anglo-Saxon law with few exceptions is for the respondent/accused to be considered innocent of a charge unless there is sufficient evidence to show guilt. To get a conviction, the prosecution has to prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

However, this Directive reverses that role, and the respondent, which may be an organisation, is no longer considered from the outset to be innocent until proven guilty. This is spelt out clearly under Article 8:

“Member States shall take such measures as are necessary, in accordance with their national judicial systems, to ensure that, when persons who consider themselves wronged because the principle of equal treatment has not been applied to them establish, before a court or other competent authority, facts from which it may be presumed that there has been direct or indirect discrimination, it shall be for the respondent to prove that there has been no breach of the prohibition of discrimination. “(Burden of Proof Article 8i).

For those who would like to read further on this, you can download (below) a briefing paper from CCfoN (Christian Concern for our Nation) and March for Repentance.

Download in either Open Format or DOC format:

EU Equal Treatment Directive -Open Format

EU Equal Treatment Directive -DOC format

I don’t think I have ever been anti-European, but this alarms me. This will result in even more of those mischievous accusations against Christians that have been in the press recently.


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