'God slot' drops fourth cleric

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The Independent Online
Another senior cleric has been dropped as a presenter of Radio 4's "Thought For The Day."

The Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Rev Richard Harries, is the fourth contributor to the Today programme slot in two weeks to be "rested" by the BBC.

The bishop, who joined the "Thought For The Day" team 24 years ago and is the programme's longest-serving presenter, said yesterday he was "puzzled" by the decision.

He gave his last broadcast in February and had been booked to take over the slot again in August and December.

"Yes, I too have received a 'Dear John' letter," he said. "The letter states that I am being rested, but for how long, or whether it is a permanent arrangement, I have yet to find out.

"What is clear is that it is clearly meant to make a break. I am, however, puzzled as to the reasons for it."

The bishop's departure follows those of Canon Philip Crowe, the former principal of Salisbury Theological College, the Ven George Austin, the Archdeacon of York and Dr Leslie Griffiths, the former president of the Methodist Conference.

All of them received a letter from David Coomes, the producer of the "Thought For The Day" slot, saying they were being "rested" in order to make way for new names.

Mr Coomes said in his letter: "I use the term 'rested' genuinely; all strands need refreshing from time to time, and there is no reason why old favourites cannot return as others in turn are rested."