Church makes landmark ruling over mobile phone mast plans

By Jonathan Moyes

AN application to place a phone mast on a Chingford church spire has been rejected over fears that pornography will be distributed via the network.

The proposal to build a T-Mobile base station in the spire of SS Peter and Paul Church on The Green was rejected by the Chelmsford Diocese consistory court.

Presiding judge, George Pulman QC, Chelmsford Diocese Chancellor, said: "It is wrong in law for the church to facilitate transmission of pornography, even in a slight or modest way.

"It is equally wrong for the church to gain financial advantage, even in a slight or modest way, from the transmission of pornography.

"Until there is clear evidence that antennae in church towers in this diocese cannot transmit pornography, it is unlikely that a faculty will be granted to allow church towers to be used for 3G transmissions.

"It causes me some surprise that local authorities granting planning permission for antennae may wish to adopt a different view. The dangers to children from internet pornography are well known to local authority social services departments.

"It is their social workers who give evidence before the High Court in respect of the dangers of child pornography, the effect of child pornography on adults and on children and the resultant dangers to others."

The Bishop of Chelmsford's chaplain, Chris Newlands, said: "This is a landmark ruling. The church is not supportive of anything that de-humanises or abases humanity. We can see the point the judge has been making about how the phone mast can help mobile phone users to send 3G images which could be images of pornography."

Chingford MP Iain Duncan Smith said: "I have not seen the ruling, but if it is true this is great news and a landmark victory for common sense.

"As everyone is aware, I remain concerned over the health implications of this technology and here in Chingford we will be under constant pressure from mobile phone companies for two reasons.

"The first is we are within easy reach of the M25, A406 and M11. Secondly, the mobile phone companies have to recoup the vast amounts of money the Government made them pay for their licences."

Resident Trevor Calver, Larkshall Road, Highams Park, said: "I am absolutely delighted the chancellor saw sense and kicked the mast out.

"The 3G masts are way for people to send images and to pick up things from television and computers and there is certainly a danger to children."

The Guardian contacted T-Mobile but the phone company had not resonded at the time of going to press.

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