From the Archdeacon of West Ham
Sir, — The Revd Paul Newman of Portsmouth claims that a parish in West Ham archdeaconry lacked oversight, accountability, and responsibility (“Forest Gate immigration scandal: what went wrong?”, Letters, 2 March).
The fact is that the irregularities were discovered at the Archdeacon’s visitation, and the Area Dean and Lay Chair worked tirelessly with me, the churchwardens, and others to pursue them. The systems for oversight worked, and worked well.
The two congregations are currently being cared for by an excellent priest. At the same time, the clergy under investigation have received considerable pastoral support throughout this period from two local clergy as well from a bishop and an archdeacon.
All clergy in this archdeaconry have been fully briefed on correct procedures for marriage licences, and there are regular checks at all levels. We continue to work closely with the UK Border Agency so that those who seek to abuse the marriage service will find that this route is now firmly closed.
I am proud of the remarkably hard-working and committed clergy and lay people of this archdeaconry, overseen not only by me but by an excellent team of area deans and lay chairs. There is no room for complacency, but I can assure your readers that systems for care, oversight, accountability, and responsibility are very much in place, and continue to be regularly reviewed and strengthened.
86 Aldersbrook Road
London E12 5DH