LETTER : Bishop's duty

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From Mr Vincent Williams

Sir: The Very Rev Brandon Jackson ("The cross I chose to bear", 21July) claims that

The crisis arose because my bishop chose to believe the story of a girl he described to me as "pretty hopeless".

That is a surprising assertion. The issue of the Bishop's belief (or lack of it) is neither here nor there.

The Bishop was confronted with a serious allegation, namely, that a senior member of the Church had committed adultery in the context of his professional and pastoral duties. The Dean, as an "under-shepherd of the flock of God", stood in a position of trust and responsibility towards those in his spiritual care. He was accused of adultery by and with a member of that flock. Given the nature of the Dean's position, considerable powers and responsibilities, such an allegation had to be investigated and investigated properly.

Would it have been right if the Bishop has simply accepted Dean Jackson's word over the word of Ms.Freestone on the basis that the Dean was senior member of the Church and Ms Freestone an unhappy young woman? Should he have dismissed the allegations because one, or possibly two, bishops gave, or were willing to give, no doubt deserved, character references on behalf of the Dean?

Some kind of internal tribunal would undoubtedly have been better from everyone's point of view. However. that is hardly the Bishop's fault.

Yours sincerely.

Vincent Williams

London, EC4

21 July

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