GUILDFORD diocese said on Wednesday that a cleric accused of posting anti-Semitic content online (News, 13 January) will “gladly co-operate” with a police investigation.
The diocesan secretary, Stephen Marriott, said that the Council of Christians and Jews (CCJ) had made known to the Bishop of Guildford, the Rt Revd Christopher Hill, “their grave concern” that the Revd Stephen Sizer, Vicar of Christ Church, Virginia Water, in Surrey, “had been publicising websites with anti-Semitic content”. Mr Marriott said that Bishop Hill took the allegation “extremely seriously”, and had been assured by Mr Sizer that he would “gladly co-operate with the Surrey Police in relation to this allegation, because the CCJ has also drawn attention of the police to what they claim was an action tantamount to encouraging race hatred”.
The CCJ said on Wednesday that Mr Sizer had been “alerted to the anti-Semitic nature of the website”, which he linked to on Facebook, “in November, and again in December, but only removed the link in January when contacted by The Jewish Chronicle”.
Mr Marriott said that Bishop Hill understood that it was alleged “that Mr Sizer did not withdraw the reference swiftly enough once the nature of the website had been pointed out to him”. He said that Bishop Hill had “cautioned Mr Sizer about checking the nature of websites before making reference to them. Mr Sizer accepted this criticism, and has apologised.”
The Bishop of Manchester and chairman of the CCJ, the Rt Revd Nigel McCulloch, said: “The content and the delay in removing the link from Mr Sizer’s Facebook page was disgraceful. . . Members of the CCJ have described the website as ‘obscenely anti-Semitic’.”