*** 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

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 alongside your letter.

The Church Times Podcast

Interviews and news analysis from the Church Times team. Listen to this week’s episode online

Welcome to the Church Times

​To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)