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News – Faith school in court

December 2009

Faith school in court

 

Another UK faith school is in the news – this time, Jewish. JFS (the former Jews’ Free School) is accused of racial discrimination because it refused entry to a boy whose mother was not Jewish by birth and whose religion was not Jewish Orthodox.

     Quoted in the Daily Telegraph, David Pannick QC, representing the school, told the Justices of the Supreme Court that this was a dispute about religious law, whereby the boy would not be regarded as Jewish by Orthodox Jews.

     His appeal turns on whether or not the adoption of oversubscription criteria, giving priority to children recognised by the Chief Rabbi to be Jewish, is racial discrimination and contrary to the Race Relations Act.

     Lord Pannick argued that the school had ‘legitimate and proper’ criteria, because a religious faith school was entitled to adopt a policy that gives priority to children who are members of that faith. He said, the appeal judges had misinterpreted the law in finding the school’s admission criteria discriminated on racial grounds.

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