Carey wants to be rid of two 'scandalous' priests

Click to follow
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey, yesterday urged both the Dean and the Sub-Dean of Lincoln cathedral to resign, calling their mutual enmity a "scandal dishonouring the name of Our Lord" and "a cancer". But he then admitted he could not force either man to comply with his request.

The Sub-Dean, Canon Rex Davis, has already refused to resign. The Dean, the Most Rev Brandon Jackson, has gone on holiday and cannot be contacted. He is facing a civil suit for "trespass on the body" from Miss Verity Freestone, a former verger. Last summer, he was acquitted of having an affair in a widely-publicised trial.

Dr Carey was emotional at the hastily-called press conference yesterday to announce the details of his attempts to dislodge the two men, which have been proceeding in earnest since December last year.

He saw both men separately, on June 18 and 19, to try to persuade them in person that they should both resign. But both men were determined to hang on to their positions.

The mediaeval constitution at Lincoln does not allow any member of the chapter to be removed against their will before the age of 70 unless they are found guilty of a crime.

Despite the Dean's trial for adultery last year, and the Fraud Squad's investigations - at the Dean's instigation - of a fund-raising trip to Australia organised by the Sub-Dean in 1987, neither man has been found guilty of any criminal offence.

Dr Carey denied yesterday that his press conference was called to put further pressure on the two men. His staff said it followed a leak on the matter to a newspaper.

Dr Carey is only the latest to beg the two men to resign. The Bishop of Lincoln, and the Rt Rev Robert Hardy have also tried to persuade them. Last year, Lincoln's cathedral staff passed a vote of no confidence in the Dean's management style.

The Archbishop said the scandal at Lincoln has dogged him for months.

"I have been greatly shamed by it, wherever I have gone in the world. We just cannot allow this to carry on being a cancer in the body of Lincoln," he said.

Neither man was available for comment yesterday.

Labour disestablishment threat, page 17