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Pastoral oversight and the Forest Gate immigration scandal

by
07 March 2012

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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.

ELWIN COCKETT
86 Aldersbrook Road
London E12 5DH

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