Lambeth Palace, the Archbishop of Canterbury's headquarters, has rejected claims made in a speech earlier this week by Conservative leader David Cameron, that Dr Rowan Williams was seeking the incorporation of Sharia law in the UK.
The row goes back to the Archbishop’s remarks in a BBC interview before an academic lecture, during which he said that the implementation of aspects of Sharia law in the UK was "unavoidable". He later confirmed that he was talking about family and banking provisions which are already widely practiced, and the question of how this might be recognised within a single, universal framework of civil law.
In his speech in London on 26 February 2008, Mr Cameron said allowing two laws to work side by side would be dangerous adding: "All citizens are equal before the law." He also said "state multiculturalism" had produced "disastrous results".
But a spokesman for Dr Williams said: "Whilst the Archbishop welcomes any moves by those in positions of political power and influence to discuss openly the place of religious communities in British public life, he made clear immediately after his lecture on Islam and British law that he ‘did not call for its introduction as some kind of parallel jurisdiction to the civil law’.
“[The Archbishop] does not therefore recognise Mr Cameron's reference on several occasions within his speech to the Archbishop's position as being in favour of ‘introducing Sharia law’ in parts of Britain or ‘offering a parallel system of justice’.”