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Ecclesiastical judge tells church: Let there be Wi-Fi

Tinfoilers hamper case against by failure to show

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Messages to Norfolk's churches won't just be heaven sent in future, they'll also be wireless broadband signals after a judge ruled against objectors' Wi-Fi health fears.

The Wispire project, a plan to attach Wi-Fi kit to churches to provide wireless broadband, sent radiation-fearing objectors running to a consistory court to halt installation in the first church to apply for the scheme - in the parish of Postwick.

Judge Paul Downes, sitting as chancellor of the ecclesiastical court, ruled that the application could go ahead, since none of the objectors showed up in person to prove their case, according to a report in the Eastern Daily Press.

Charity Electro-sensitivity UK (ESUK), which represents people who suffer from a wide range of symptoms they blame electromagnetic fields for, had registered objections against Postwick's plan and, along with others, had given the court extensive statements and research to back up their claims.

Unfortunately, none of them bothered to show up on the day either, so the judge felt he had to rule on the 'live evidence' presented by research scientists Dr Azadeh Peyman of the Health Protection Agency and Dr James Rubin of King's College London, who told the court there was no "consistent evidence" that wireless broadband signals caused ill health.

According to Judge Downes' ruling:

In this case the views and reports produced by the objectors from many different sources were not available for cross examination or evaluation.

The court, therefore, had to decide which evidence it preferred. The court concluded that it preferred that of the live evidence of experts in their field, whose testimony the court was able to examine and evaluate, and went on to accept.

The Wispire project is a joint venture between FreeClix, an internet service provider, and the Diocese of Norwich that aims to "deliver high speed reliable wireless broadband internet access to local communities (especially to areas where current speeds are very poor)", according to its website.

The Postwick ruling opens the door to the 150 other churches in the diocese that have registered their interest in the scheme to start their own applications.

ESUK had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication. ®

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