Britain's highest judicial officer ruled out a role for Shariah law parallel to Britain's legal system during an appearance in Washington yesterday, where he advocated a British bill of rights as a first step toward a U.S.-style constitution.

Jack Straw, the lord chancellor and justice minister, insisted there cannot be two separate legal systems in response to a question after his address at George Washington University.

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams provoked outrage last week when he said it was "unavoidable" that elements of Islamic Shariah law will be introduced in Britain.

"Certain provisions of Shariah are already recognized in our society and under our law, so it's not as if we're bringing in an alien and rival system," the archbishop said in a speech and a television interview.

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