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UK will change the law to stop Pope being arrested

Government “seriously concerned” over Richard Dawkins’ plans to arrest Pope Benedict.

The Pope will travel to the UK after his Summer holidays.
Image: L'Osservatore Romano via PA

BRITAIN’S JUSTICE SECRETARY has proposed to significantly change UK law in an attempt to stop human rights campaigners from performing a citizen’s arrest on the Pope when he visits England in autumn.

Sky News reports that Government officials are “seriously concerned” over plans of campaigners – including noted atheist author Richard Dawkins – to prosecute the Pope under international criminal law.

The campaigners – which also include journalist Christopher Hitchens – want to prosecute Pope Benedict for his alleged role in the cover-up of clerical sex abuse.

But Conversative justice minister Ken Clarke has proposed changes to the rules on ‘international jurisdiction‘ which would require the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions to consent to an arrest warrant.

The government denies that the plans relate directly to the Pope, however, and says that the issue was exposed when a former Israeli minister cancelled a trip after a similar warrant was sought for her arrest.

When in the UK, the Pope will beatify Cardinal John Henry Newman, the founder of UCD, in a Mass expected to be attended by up to ten thousand.

Clarke said “it would be appropriate to require the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions before an arrest warrant can be issued to a private prosecutor in respect of an offence of universal jurisdiction.”

The move will face opposition from human rights advocates separately to the criticism of the Pope, however, as it effectively takes the matter of international prosecutions out of the hands of the courts.

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Gavan Reilly

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