Pump Court Chambers

Justin Gau wins first ‘contested heritage case’

News 23rd March 2022
Justin Gau

The Church of England, along with many organisations has been trying to deal appropriately with memorials and other matters of ‘contested heritage’ in relation to the legacies of slavery that have historically benefited those organisations.

Justin was briefed on behalf of 96 parties opponent who opposed the petition by Jesus College, Cambridge to remove a memorial to Tobias Rustat from the college chapel. The petitioners has claimed that the mission of the chapel was being frustrated by the presence of the memorial of the College’s most generous historical benefactor. The petitioners called the Master of the College, the Bishop of Ely and the Dean of Chapel as witnesses. The parties opponent called witnesses including Dr Roger Bowdler as an expert on 17th Century monuments.  Professor Lawrence Boardman appeared as a witness and as a party opponent.

The Deputy Chancellor of the Diocese, HHJ Hodge QC, accepted Justin’s submissions that the petitioners had failed to correct a false narrative that was spread through the college that Rustat had made money from slave trading and that money had been gifted to the College. The Deputy Chancellor was critical of the witnesses called by the petitioners and welcomed the assistance of the expert and other witness evidence called by the parties opponent.

He highly commended the submissions of Professor Goldman, identifying that academic History’s gain was the legal professions loss. He also gave useful guidance on how future petitions might be resolved. For the further information on the case as reported in the media please click here.

To access the judgment in full please and the summary of conclusions please click the relevant links.

Justin is the head of the Ecclesiastical Law Team in chambers. For further information on his practice, please contact our clerking team on 020 7353 0711 or via email 

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