Judge sends law officer to solve mosque row

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THE Attorney General is to attempt to settle a dispute between warring Muslim factions at a Bedfordshire mosque.

Mr Justice Ferris made an order in the High Court yesterday allowing Sir Nicholas Lyell, in his role as protector of charities, to try to ensure the Luton central mosque is run correctly.

A row over control of the mosque erupted last May when a new management committee ousted the old guard, who had run the mosque under a charitable trust for about nine years.

The mosque's trustees applied for a court order reinstating the former committee. But Mr Justice Ferris decided that letting the old committee back in would be like 'throwing a five-gallon drum of petrol over the embers'.

The judge said: 'Despite the explosion of feeling after the election of the new committee, there has been comparative harmony at the mosque ever since.'

He stressed that his decision should not be regarded as 'a victory' for the new committee or as a 'defeat' for their rivals. Leaving the new committee in charge seemed to offer the 'best prospect' of running the mosque on a peaceful basis pending approval of the Attorney General's scheme.

The judge said that the wider interests of the Muslim community in Luton needed to be considered. He warned that if there was further unrest the mosque might have to be put in neutral hands, which could result in closure until a management scheme had been approved by the court.