Wednesday, 6 June 2007

Times story on Bp Butler still available

Link here. This also contains a 'correction' issued by the Archbishop's Office which shows my initial caution about the headline in the Times ("Bishop was drunk after Christmas Party, leaked report says"), was justified.

On the Thinking Anglicans website is a story that Bp Butler is to go to the Press Complaints Commission.

(Frankly, I do find myself wondering if I could see this one coming, why couldn't the lawyers and editors at the Times - or maybe I am in the wrong job.)


pete.broadbent said...

The other aspect of this is the way in which it is likely to undermine confidence in the new Clergy Discipline Measure. What's been leaked is an internal report on whether there was a case to answer, equivalent to a Crown Prosecution Service report in criminal cases. Now, it may well be that a leaker feels that Bishops are fair game for such a leak, but it's not likely to inspire confidence in the system on the part of the average clergyperson who's been complained against.

If it's possible for the report on Bishop to get out [from where? Lambeth? Judge's chambers?], it's possible for it to happen to anyone else, too. Not good news for the working of the Clergy Discipline Measure.

I suppose it's less likely to leak when it's not about a bishop, but you can envisage the destruction of someone's ministry [scenario - priest falsely accused of child abuse; investigation shows no case to answer; report leaks; priest can't carry on with ministry despite being completely exonerated, on the "no smoke without fire" approach]. There probably ought to be a leak investigation, not just for +Tom's sake, but for the sake of the system.

Revd John P Richardson said...

The problem is, unlike Pete's scenario of an investigation which shows no case to answer, a report of which subsequently leaks, in this case quite a different situation applied, as Judge Bursell is reported to have said: "Having analysed the evidence on which you must reach your decision it is my view that there is substantial evidence to support Mr Adams' contention that the Bishop was drunk on the night in question."

Pete's scenario is a "dog bites man" story. I suspect that the reason for the leak, and I am sure the reason for the original story in The Times etc, was a sense of injustice in that there was a case to answer which had been dismissed on a technicality. This is also a way in which confidence in the disciplinary system is undermined.

As I have suggested elsewhere, it is hard to see why Mr Adams, who brought the complaint, has no 'proper interest', given that he is a former churchwarden, and therefore a former officer of the bishop. One is left wondering, if someone in his position cannot be allowed to make a complaint in such circumstances, can any lay person?