[Ed – This is part one of a two-part article by Freddy Vachha.]

Many will have seen the astounding judgement delivered on April 27.

Apparently, first-come-first-served is discriminatory against dead people whose families profess certain religious beliefs…

The two judges responsible for this are:

Lord Justice Singh      Mrs Justice Whipple

The background of Lord Justice Rabinder Singh, who delivered the judgment, includes Cherie Bliar’s Matrix Chambers and a visiting professorship at the London School of Economics.

Previous fine judgements of Singh’s include this statement he made in 2007:

“Most of the time, my honest view about lawyers is that we should be modest about what we contribute to justice… but Phil Shiner is an exception to that rule. If there were no Phil Shiners in the country, then the sort of legal issues arising out of the Iraq war I don’t think would have surfaced.”

At the time, Singh was doing a lot of work as a leading counsel for Public Interest Lawyers  (“PIL”) on many Iraq-related cases, including the infamous Al-Sweady case, which lead to the disgracing of PIL and of Shiner.

Yes, PIL’s founder and boss was the same Phil Shiner who Singh praised to the skies back in 2007.

PIL was often accused of bringing meritless, greedy, opportunistic actions against the Ministry of Defence and/or British soldiers, whose record in Iraq was, by and large, exemplary.

There is no suggestion that Singh’s contributions were other than honest and exemplary; also, they occurred in PIL’s earlier years.

According to the Glasgow Evening Times and other sources, PIL (or, at least, the PIL associated with Phil Shiner) is now defunct.

As to Phil Shiner, described – long before all this came out – in such amazingly glowing terms by Singh:

“Shiner was struck off the roll of solicitors in England and Wales in 2017 over misconduct relating to multiple false abuse claims made against our troops.”

The Telegraph elsewhere reported that Shiner declared himself bankrupt in March 2017 owing almost £7 million. In February 2018, the Insolvency Service found that Shiner had sold his own house to his family and put it into a trust that had allowed him to live there. He also sold two commercial properties for £550,000 each and also transferred two £3,500 guitars into the family trust. The Insolvency Service estimates they have recovered over £483,000, but that there is another £6.5 million to locate.

What a disgusting man, Shiner.  What’s worse than unfairly demonising our brave troops?

I searched in Google for any retraction by Lord Justice Singh of the glowing, unqualified praise he’d heaped on Shiner ten years earlier, but I was unsuccessful.  I’m sure it must be there, somewhere.

Well, everyone makes errors of judgement.

Unsurprisingly, this official bio of Lord Singh contains no reference to “Public Interest Lawyers” (or Shiner).

Now back to today’s judgement against the poor Senior Coroner of Inner North London (and the policy she instituted) who merely wanted to treat everyone, living or dead, equally.  Which today is apparently illegal.

I struggled to find sense in a judgment that appears at first glance to be outrageously unfair – discriminating positively in favour of Muslims (the numerically dominant group – there are about ten times more Muslims in England & Wales than Jews, who also benefit) in order to avoid discrimination they allegedly suffered by merely being treating equally with everyone else!

Drilling into the detail, the ratio decidendi, the best defence I could find for what seems to be insanity is that by the coroner setting a policy stating that she was going to ignore religious requirements when deciding prioritisation is a breach of the yuman rights of the deceased or loved ones thereof to have their religious requirements respected.

The judgement, therefore, does not compel the coroner to give them priority, but merely compels the coroner to not ignore their religion-based preference for a quick burial.  That, I surmise, is considered to be its saving grace.

However, even I – not clever like this fine pair of learned judges – can see that the guaranteed practical outcome of this judgment will be to make coroners scared of not putting the clearing of Muslim and Jewish corpses for last rites at the top of the list, for fear of otherwise being accused of not sufficiently taking into account religious considerations, and their office being sued, their career ruined.  The presumption will be if they don’t prioritise, they’ve discriminated.  So they’ll take the easy route, else they’re “racist”…

Part 2 of this post can be read here.

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