Wednesday, 6 June 2007

Bp of Southwark 'had case to answer' over drunkenness allegation

UPDATE: It looks as though my editorial caution over the headline in The Times about Bishop Butler was justified as the story has vanished from their website! The Daily Mail have also substantially modified the story which first appeared this morning here. The beginning of The Times article is below. All the juicy bits have gone missing, though. If you get to Ruth Gledhill's blog quickly, there is a longer comment on the leaked report there.

The Bishop of Southwark could have been prosecuted for drunkenness under church law after a Christmas party at the Irish Embassy, according to a secret Church of England report leaked to The Times.

Dr Tom Butler escaped disciplinary action over the mysterious incident, in which he suffered head injuries and lost his mobile telephone, crucifix and briefcase. A report found that the layman who filed the complaint was not deemed of sufficient rank to continue proceedings. But a subsequent investigation into a second complaint influenced the Archbishop’s decision to take no action.

In his report to the Archbishop of Canterbury, the top ecclesiastical lawyer, Judge Rupert Bursell, QC, ruled that there was “sufficient substance” to justify disciplinary proceedings against Dr Butler “in relation to the complaint of drunkenness”.

John Adams, a former churchwarden from Croydon, submitted a formal complaint against his bishop, who was found bloodied with a black eye and a bump on the head outside Bishop’s House in Streatham, South London, several hours after leaving the Irish Embassy last December.

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