Field enters Abbey suspension row

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The Independent Online
A ROW has developed at Westminster Abbey after the organist who led the music at the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales, was suspended amid allegations of financial irregularities.

Last night the minister for welfare reform, Frank Field, stepped into the argument and accused the Abbey authorities of attempting to try the organist and choir master - his friend Dr Martin Neary - in a kangaroo court.

Dr Neary, who was honoured by the Queen after the Princess's funeral last September, has been suspended pending a disciplinary hearing over allegations relating to overseas trips by the choir. His letter of suspension warned that it could lead to him being sacked.

But Mr Field claimed the Abbey authorities had failed to tell Dr Neary precisely what charges he faced. He said not even a "tin pot employer" would send a letter like the suspension letter sent to Dr Neary.

The pair had to threaten to get a court injunction before the Abbey postponed the hearing due to be held last Thursday, Mr Field said. The hearing is now due to be held next week.

Emma St John-Smith, Westminster Abbey spokeswoman, said last night: "The Dean and chapter are in dispute with Dr and Mrs Neary regarding matters of administration of the Abbey's music department.

"Because this matter is under consideration, no further comment can be made."