*** DEBUG END ***

Forest Gate immigration scandal: what went wrong?

29 February 2012


From the Revd Paul A. Newman

Sir, — I was successively part-time Priest-in-Charge and subsequently Vicar of All Saints’, Forest Gate, 1983-91, and left reluctantly when a kairos moment for a union of bene­fices with St Edmund’s was thwarted. The reorganisation happened five years later, but by then the dynamic had been arrested. When I left All Saints’, the congrega­tion was report­edly the most ethnically diverse and integrated in the diocese of Chelms­ford.

Judicial and criminal proceedings concerning fraudulent abuse of both legal and spiritual responsibilities in irregular marriages have now con­cluded. A legitimate question re­mains, and deserves an explana­tion. Why was “oversight” so lacking and for so long? Even I had heard rumours of irregularities. “Common tenure” came too late perhaps?

Should not the area dean and arch­deacon at least have been alert? Churchwardens are the bishop’s of­ficers ex officio, usually focused in the annual archdiaconal consulta­tion.

It is the lay people of those two congregations who deserve and now, even more, need effective leadership and co-ordination of their energies, talents, and commitment. I continue dismayed at the evident laissez-faire absence of accountability and respons­­ibility.

With my grounding in Southwark diocese, I found it a puzzling con­trast that West Ham archdeaconry covered five London boroughs, Epping, and Harlow (now detached), whereas several London boroughs south of the river had their own archdeacon.

I write in a spirit of solidarity in the gospel, not, I hope, in rancour.

Anglican and Co-ordinating Chaplain
HM Prison Kingston, Portsmouth

Browse Church and Charity jobs on the Church Times jobsite

Letters to the editor

Letters for publication should be sent to letters@churchtimes.co.uk.

Letters should be exclusive to the Church Times, and include a full postal address. Your name and address will appear below your letter unless requested otherwise.

Forthcoming Events


Church Times Month

March 2024

For the whole of March, Church Times is offering completely FREE online access, so you can share stories without a paywall.

We are also asking our readers to spread the news of the Church Times among their friends, acquaintances, and fellow churchgoers (and non-churchgoers).

Find out more


Keeping faith in Journalism: a Church Times Webinar

11 March 2024 | 6pm GMT

An expert panel discusses trust between the media and the public

Online Tickets available


Church Times/RSCM:

Festival of Faith and Music

26 - 28 April 2024

See the full programme on the festival website. 

Early bird tickets available


Green Church Awards

Closing date: 30 June 2024

Read more details about the awards


The Church Times Archive

Read reports from issues stretching back to 1863, search for your parish or see if any of the clergy you know get a mention.

FREE for Church Times subscribers.

Explore the archive

Welcome to the Church Times


You are able to read this for FREE as part of Church Times Promotional Month, where for the whole of March, we are offering unlimited web access to the newspaper.

From next month to explore the Church Times website fully, you will need to sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers will return to only being able to read four articles for free each month.