Law,  Secularism

Blair’s judgment questioned

Cherie Blair has been referred to the Judicial Complaints Office after she suspended the sentence of a man convicted of assault on the basis that he was religious, reports The Times.

Suspending the man’s sentence, Blair, who practices law under her maiden name “Cherrie Booth’, said:

“I am going to suspend this sentence for the period of two years based on the fact you are a religious person and have not been in trouble before. You caused a mild fracture to the jaw of a member of the public standing in a queue at Lloyds Bank. You are a religious man and you know this is not acceptable behaviour.”

This is preposterous!

If I were the victim of a crime, why should I give two hoots what the perpetrator’s religious convictions are? Unless they are a motivation for the crime, they are irrelevant. But beyond justice for the victim, there are far more worrying legal and philosophical issues.

The National Secular Society is quite right in pointing out that not only does this imply that religious people ought to (and clearly do) get lighter sentences, it suggests that a non-religious person is less capable of knowing right from wrong.

This is a gross example of religious discrimination.

Blair must be disciplined and reminded of her obligations to treat all sections of the community equally and impartially.

UPDATE: I hope Brett doesn’t mind, but there is an interesting counterview to this post in a comment left by Jack of Kent (a blogging lawyer) at the New Humanist blog. [Neil D]