Civil Injunctions Against Extremism in Schools?

March 8th, 2011

Education lawyers may think it unlikely they would become involved in civil litigation related to terrorism or advocacy of Sharia law in schools.  But the anti-terrorism sage of successive governments, Alex Carlile QC (Lord Carlile) has now raised the possibility of civil injunctions against school governors who allow promotion of “extremism” in their schools.  Such schools could also lose their charitable status, according to remarks attributed to him at a recent seminar reported in the press.  The review is being conducted within the Home Office and the results are expected in April 2011.  There are obvious human rights implications (both in relation to Article 9 of the Convention, concerning religious belief, and Article 10, concerning freedom of speech) if legislation subjects schools governors to sanctions for promoting views characterised as “extremist” where those views also constitute religious doctrine.  This will not be an easy issue for the government or for schools if the legislation is enacted.

Tim Kerr QC

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