Without mentioning the former Secretary of State for National Heritage by name, Dr George Carey said public figures who committed adultery could not be trusted in their working life. He said: 'The person who systematically deceives his or her spouse financially or sexually is not likely to escape the downward spiral of deception in other parts of life.'
While condemning commercially motivated intrusions into people's private lives, he added: 'We must be careful not to suggest that major public figures can behave as they like at home or in their office and that this has nothing to do with their work.'
In a lecture fiercely critical of the Government and the way that its 'privatisation of morality' had contributed to its troubles, Dr Carey also criticised its handling of the threatened pit closures.
Addressing community leaders in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, Dr Carey suggested that the controversy symbolised problems that were more widespread. He said: 'It touches on how easily individuals can be stripped of their dignity, and how powerful, impersonal forces can appear to prevail over the loyalty and hard work of individuals and the reasonable hopes of their families.
The 'privatisation of morality' is becoming a popular subject with the archbishop, who made few references to the Government during his first few months at Lambeth Palace.
Earlier this month, he deplored the Thatcher years, blaming them for weakening people's commitment to the community. Last night, he suggested that society was as much at risk in the 1990s.
'Beneath topical political problems relating to economic management and Europe lies a deeper confusion about what the moral purpose of society should be,' Dr Carey said.