Christian Legal Centre
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Whenever you hear a media or tabloid story about someone having to remove a crucifix necklace, or being "forced" to work with gay people, or basically any story that makes it look like Britain is regularly beating up Christians and persecuting them, there's a good chance the CLC are behind the publicity. They claim to do this all in the name of "freedom of religion", but seem mostly concerned with the "freedom to bitch and moan about how freedom of religion doesn't make Christianity the dominant state religion anymore."
It is constituted as a non-profit company (i.e. not a charity, and certainly not a legal practice — and hence they are unable to act for or represent anybody in court). The main shareholder is Andrea Rose Minichiello Williams, who claims to be a barrister although the website Nearly Legal was unable to find any evidence of her registration. Most of its cases are argued in court by one man, the barrister Paul Diamond, who is himself a devout Christian.
The revenue source for the Christian Legal Centre is unclear, though connections exist with a well-funded United States organisation, the Alliance Defense Fund. The ADF and the CLC jointly set up the Wilberforce Academy in the UK aimed at training Christians for leadership roles in public life. There are suggestions it is an organisation with very little income, with almost all legal actions pursued by lawyers acting pro bono (without charging a fee). However, for a while they paid barrister Paul Diamond a retainer of £8000 per month, so they must have had money at some point — it's all very mysterious.
Doctor preached at depressed patient
A 2011 case involved a practice of doctors who lectured patients about Christianity. There was a complaint because a patient who is not a Christian was told about Jesus instead of getting help with depression. The patient's representative complained and the evangelist doctors say they were "persecuted" (note that depressed patients are sometimes passive and do not always have the psychological strength to say anything like, "Please, I don't want to listen to this").
Equal rights for foster carers
The Rev J. Yallop and his wife applied to be foster carers and were turned down because they explicitly refused to meet gay couples in their home in front of their own children. The local authority rejected them as foster carers and the Christian Legal Centre is taking up their case. The Rev was later jailed for molestation of a 16-year-old orphaned girl in the '80s after the victim saw news articles about the Christian Legal Centre's publicity campaign.[note 1]
They were involved in supporting the parents of the child Alfie Evans in legal action against Alder Hey Children's Hospital. The doctors at the hospital felt that Alfie Evans, who had an incurable disease causing irreversible damage to his brain tissue, should be allowed to die, but his parents wanted to keep him alive as long as possible. The Solicitors Regulation Authority considered whether the Christian Legal Centre had improperly offered advice, with particular concern over the actions of Pavel Stroilov, a law student and former employee of UKIP leader Gerard Batten, who may have given legal advice on behalf of the CLC despite not actually being qualified as a lawyer. Stroilov had tried to launch a private prosecution for murder against the doctors at Alder Hey.
Nigel and Sally Rowe
CLC acted for two Christian parents who claimed their child was "confused" by another child who had came out as trans and started wearing girls' clothes to class; the school had followed UK government guidance, and the Department of Education refused to intervene. With the backing of the CLC, the parents sought a judicial review of the government's decision to let the school decide what was in the best interests of the trans pupil.
Archie Battersbee was another tragic child who following an accident at home suffered traumatic brain injuries and was judged by doctors to be brain dead, but his parents wished to keep him on life support despite the improbability of him ever regaining consciousness. Lawyers for his parents were funded by the Christian Legal Centre, and represented in court by Pavel Stroilov, a consultant to the CLC, and Bruno Quitavalle formerly of anti-abortion group ProLife Alliance; they provided dubious advice including incorrectly claiming that the child could legally be taken home from hospital and agitating for the child to be sent abroad for treatment despite no treatment existing in the opinion of neurologists. Neena Modi, professor of neonatal medicine at Imperial College London, criticised the CLC and Christian Concern, saying they "prey upon the most vulnerable", and added:
These third parties coming in are behaving appallingly, reprehensibly, unethically, and very damagingly. They add to the grief and distress of families because they try and break down the trust that should exist between the medical team and the family – and which usually does exist.
A key figure is Pavel Stroilov, a former law student who acts as a legal consultant despite not being a practising lawyer (under English law, "lawyer" is not a protected term and anyone can claim to be one, but there are restrictions on who can actually represent other people in court). He has been criticised by legal bloggers as a "pretend lawyer", for his lack of formal legal qualifications. In particular, he was accused of giving legal advice to Alfie Evans's parents despite not being a lawyer, although the Solicitors Regulation Authority decided there was nothing within their powers to rule about. While working for the parents of Alfie Evans, he was described by a judge as a "fanatical and deluded young man"; the judge said Stroilov's "malign hand" was "inconsistent with the real interests of the parents' case". Stroilov has also been a writer for extreme right-wing magazines The Critic and The Spectator. Born in Russia, Stroilov had also worked as an advisor to UKIP leader Gerard Batten.
- Alliance Defending Freedom
- Bible Belt, for what can happen when Christians start persecuting others.
- I'm not prejudiced, but...
- Jamie Doward and Seb Wheeler. "Christian Legal Centre fights more than 50 religious discrimination cases." The Guardian. 2011 April 30.
- On the Naughty Step – the questionable ethics of the Christian Legal Centre, Giles Peaker, Nearly Legal, 28 April 2018
- Belief is not always a good thing in an advocate, Joshua Rozenberg, The Guardian, 4 May 2011
- How is the Christian Legal Centre funded?, Thinking Anglicans, 3 May 2011
- "Christian Legal Centre goes into bully mode as doctor claims religious persecution." National Secular Society. 2011 May 27.
- Tim Pearson. "Christian couple have fostering bid rejected." The Way. 2010 August.
- Blackburn vicar jailed for three years for molesting orphaned girl
- Legal watchdog may investigate Christian group over Alfie Evans case, The Guardian, May 2, 2018
- Christian parents sue government over somebody else’s kid wearing a dress to school, Pink News, 14 Oct 2021
- Archie Battersbee: How did life support battle end up in court?, BBC, 6 August 2022
- Religious fundamentalist lawyers ‘preyed on’ Archie Battersbee’s family, Open Democracy, 8 August 2022
- 'Call from God': American pro-lifer's role in Alfie Evans battle, The Guardian, 28 April 2018
- Legal watchdog closes case into Alfie Evans advisors' alleged misconduct, Liverpool Echo, 22 Aug 2018
- Pavel Stroilov, the pretend lawyer from the Christian Legal Centre strikes again, losing an unfair dismissal case for the ‘client’, and apparently pretending to be a barrister. https://bailii.org/uk/cases/UKET/2017/2302764_2016.pdf, @NearlyLegal, Twitter, 9:08 PM · May 27, 2019
- Christian Legal Centre could be looked into by legal regulators for Alfie Evans involvement, Premier Christian News, 2 May 2018
- Writer: Pavel Stroilov, The Spectator
- Author: Pavel Stroilov, The Critic
- We wish we could say this was a surprise.