Craig Allen

Thesis title: How should improper religious impulsion be regulated by the law of England and Wales?

Start year: 2017


Supervisor(s): Professor Peter Edge, Professor Lucy Vickers

Research topic

How should the law regulate religious influence motivating gifts? Should criminal fraud laws apply to religious representations? When do religious officials take advantage of adherents in making a financial gain? These are challenging questions that this thesis sets out to assess. The focus is upon the regulation of religious fraud and religious undue influence in English law. Commentators on religious fraud have left significant questions unanswered concerning how such conduct can be regulated by s2 of the Fraud Act 2006, fraud by false representation. One of the objectives of this thesis is to justify why it is possible to litigate religious representations alleged to be false, even if juries are prohibited from testing the falsity of religious beliefs by the jurisprudence on Article 9 of the European Convention of Human Rights.

The second objective of this thesis is to illustrate the problems with how courts determine when religious influence, an inevitable part of any religious experience, becomes undue in equitable settings. Fundamental differences exist between religious and nonreligious contexts that are not explicitly recognised by courts in finding that religious defendants have taken advantage of an adherent’s trust in presumed cases of undue influence.

Based on this analysis, the thesis engages with a third objective and develops a rationale explaining when defendants should be convicted for religious fraud under s2 FA06 and found liable for religious undue influence in presumed undue influence cases. Normative discussions on autonomy and exploitation are examined. This thesis provides reasons why courts should take account of the features of religious relationships and religious motivations for gifts in cases. The rationale reduces the concern identified that decisions in both areas of law are unprincipled and give rise to religious bias. In turn, the thesis describes how religious influence should be regulated by English courts in a way that ensures more consistent regulation of gifts motivated by religious faith across the two different areas of law.


Criminal fraud, undue influence, religious financing, autonomy, exploitation and comparative law

General research interests

  • Law and religion, property and trusts law, criminal law and legal theory

Academic school / department

School of Law and Social Sciences


  • ‘Incitement to Religious Hatred in England And Wales: Normatively Justified Law and Suitable Compromise,’ International Centre for Law and Religion online database (forthcoming).
  • Collection of book reviews on freedom of religious belief and freedom of expression for the Ecclesiastical Law Journal: Paul Cliteur and Tom Herrenberg, The Fall and Rise of Blasphemy, (Leiden University Press 2019); Paul Cliteur, Theoterrosim v. Freedom of Speech, (Amsterdam University Press 2019); Jeroen Temperman and András Koltay, Blasphemy and Freedom of Expression: Comparative, Theoretical and Historical Reflections after the Charlie Hebdo Massacre, (Cambridge University Press 2018) (forthcoming)
  • Book review of Research Handbook on Law and Religion Edited by Rex Ahdar Edward (Elgar Press 2018), (2019) Ecclesiastical Law Journal, 21(3), 375-377.

Work in progress

  • ‘Presumed Undue Influence and The Erroneous Application of Status-based Presumptions of Influence’
  • Allcard v Skinner (1887) Religious Undue Influence’ chapter X for Renae Barker et al (Ed.), Law and Religion in Common Law, (Routledge 2022).

Teaching experience

Modules taught

  • LAW6006 Equality Law- Module Leader
  • LAW6002 UG Dissertation- Dissertation Supervisor
  • LAW6012 Equity and Trusts Law- Associate Lecturer
  • LAW4009 and LAW5016 Criminal Law- Associate Lecturer
  • Public Law and Equity and Trusts- Teaching Assistant at Queen Mary University of London

Professional information

Memberships of professional bodies

  • Law and Religion Scholars Network and the Oxford Brookes University Commercial Religion Research Group


  • September 2020, Virtual SLS Conference 2020, Property and Trusts panel, “Severing Gifts in Presumed Undue Influence Claims: Lessons from the US.”
  • April 2020, Virtual LARSN PhD Workshop at Oxford Brookes University, “Severing Gifts in Presumed Undue Influence Claims: Lessons from the US.”
  • June 2019, Oxford Brookes University Research Student Symposium, “Regulating Religious Fraud under s2 Fraud Act 2006: Comparative Lessons from the US.”
  • February 2019, The Regulation of Financial Abuse of Religious and Spiritual Capital Workshop at Oxford Brookes University, “The Challenges of Convicting Religious Racketeers under s2 Fraud Act 2006.”
  • December 2019, Nottingham Trent University Flashpoints Human Rights, Law & Religion Conference, “Religious Influence or Religious Undue Influence? The Challenges and Risks of Enforcing the Doctrind of Undue Influence.”
  • May 2018, LARSN PhD Workshop at Oxford Brookes University, “The Challenges of Religious Fraud for English Criminal Law.”
  • April 2018, Oxford Brookes University Law Lunchtime Lecture Series, “The Challenges of Religious Fraud for English Criminal Law.”

Further details

Academic and professional training

  • EDU7026 Learning and Teaching in Higher Education (Distinction) at Oxford Brookes University

Scholarship and prizes

  • February 2021: passed PhD viva without corrections at Oxford Brookes University
  • June 2019: Best Paper Prize at Oxford Brookes University HSS Research Student Symposium
  • September 2018: received an honourable mention from the International Centre for Law and Religion, Religious Liberty Essay Competition. I accepted the award in Washington D.C.
  • September 2017: full Law Faculty PhD Scholarship by Oxford Brookes University (2017-2020)
  • January 2014: Eric Kemp Prize, Ecclesiastical Law Society Essay Competition