Missionary group seeks to question churchman

THE executive committee of SPCK, the church publishing and missionary group, will discuss on Monday the future of the Rev Sir Derek Pattinson, its chairman.

Sir Derek, who is not expected to arrive to chair the meeting, is presently in hiding in the countryside following the Independent's revelation that he has been living for the past two years with a homosexual friend, Barnaby Miln JP, who had an affair with a drug dealer who subsequently died in mysterious circumstances.

Mr Miln accompanied Sir Derek for part of a trip he took around southern Africa in 1990 on behalf of SPCK, whose new managing director, Paul Chandler, said yesterday: 'I want to make it absolutely clear that so far as I can establish the society did not pay for Barnaby Miln.

'I am sure the matters raised in the Independent will be discussed on Monday, but we will want to talk to Sir Derek before making up our minds on the way forwards.'

Sir Derek has been placed on sick leave for six weeks by the Bishop of London, the Rt Rev David Hope.

Barnaby Miln was besieged yesterday by tabloid journalists in the flat the two men had shared in Westminster. Five years ago Sir Derek, then, as Mr Pattinson, secretary general of the General Synod of the Church of England, had been similarly besieged by reporters anxious to discover his views on the anonymous preface to Crockford's clerical directory, which he commissioned.

That year's preface contained a vicious personal attack on the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Robert Runcie.

Meanwhile, further details of Mr Miln's life have emerged. On 6 May Mr Miln organised a reception at Lambeth Palace, London, to raise pounds 1.5m for the Friends of the Anglican Centre in Rome. It was attended by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, and Cardinal Basil Hume. Asked whether he had been smashed on cocaine at this reception, Mr Miln had replied: 'You just don't know whether anybody can tell or not. You're happy. You're content. I'm not going to say yes; I'm not going to say no.'

Mr Miln said yesterday that he, too, was planning to disappear for a day or two.