Letter: Tatchell's protest

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Sir: Your editorial "An archaic law to deal with a puerile action" (1 December) is a strange beast. It begins by claiming that the recent court appearance of Peter Tatchell "tells us more about the Church of England than it does about Mr Tatchell".

You then proceed to expose why this is not so. As you rightly point out, the criminal legislation involved covers places of worship regardless of denomination, including - though you don't mention it - synagogues. In other words, it has nothing specifically to do with the Church of England. In addition, the trial of Mr Tatchell was not something pursued by the Church of England. The case was brought by the Crown Prosecution Service.

The fact that the law is old does not render it - nor the freedom to worship unmolested it seeks to protect - archaic. Fortunately it is a basic right, recognised widely enough for the law to be invoked only rarely.

The fact remains that the approach adopted to this matter by the Church of England has reflected a high degree of tolerance and forbearance; you describe Mr Tatchell's behaviour as puerile. No comment.


The Archbishop of Canterbury's Secretary for Public Affairs

Lambeth Palace

London SE1