The Rev Tom Thubron, Vicar of St Giles's Church in Durham City, was appearing before a special sitting of a church court to answer charges that he had carried out or overseen repairs, additions and alterations to the Grade I listed building without gaining permission. In all, 21 items of damage were considered by the court, ranging from the erection of venetian blinds in the parish centre to the sanding of a floor and the smothering of a 19th century door with wood stain and varnish.
For work on a church to be carried out, permission needs to be sought from the diocese planning board.
The case was heard in front of the chancellor of Durham diocese, Rupert Bursell QC, with around 50 members of the parish present. The court heard that the church floor had been badly gouged by an industrial sander. An expert giving evidence said the work was of a very poor standard.
Summing up, Mr Bursell said: "It saddens me that in this case officers of this church have failed in their duty by making alterations, additions and repairs which have not been authorised. I understand and appreciate the motives which drove them but I would remind them that the way to hell is paved with good intentions."