Boris Johnson

The Home Office has reassured the Board of Deputies that there are no plans to review the status of the Beth Din.

The comments come after London Mayor Boris Johnson appeared to rubbish the idea parallel systems of law, including Beth Din courts and Sharia, calling them “absolutely unacceptable”.

A Board spokesperson told Jewish News: “We have been reassured by the Home Office that there are no plans to review Batei Din courts, as there is no evidence that they are working in a way that is incompatible with the law. The Government accepts the existence of Shari’a courts, just as it accepts Batei Din courts, but ministers want to make sure that they are operating in accordance with the law.”

Boris’s comments were on LBC radio, when he said he took “grave exception” to suggestions that religious law like Sharia could be introduced into the English legal system.

“The idea of a parallel system of law, a parallel judicature, people making the laws holding to a different system, is absolutely unacceptable, it’s alien to our traditions,” said Johnson. “I won’t have it.” 

Asked if the Beth Din would “have to go,” the mayor replied: “Yes, absolutely. Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.”

Boris said he accepted that Jewish couples could go to a Beth Din to seek sanction for their divorce, but added: “It cannot substitute for UK civil proceedings. They cannot replace the civil proceedings. If they want to have some ceremonial proceeding according to religious ritual or whatever, that is fine. But the actual implementation of the law has got to be done in British courts according to British law, agreed by Parliament.”

His comments come after Home Secretary Theresa May announced plans for an independent investigation into the application of the Muslim legal code in England and Wales if Conservatives win the general election.