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Conciliators to work on complaint

24 May 2013

TWO "conciliators" have been appointed by the Bishop of Guildford, the Rt Revd Christopher Hill, to attempt to resolve a complaint by the Board of Deputies of British Jews against a cleric.

In October last year, the board lodged a complaint under the Clergy Discipline Measure against the Vicar of Christ Church, Virginia Water, in Surrey, the Revd Dr Stephen Sizer. The board said that Dr Sizer had made statements that it regarded as "anti-Semitic", and "posted internet links to articles on racist and anti-Semitic websites".

The Crown Prosecution Service investigated a complaint last year that Dr Sizer had posted a link on his Facebook page to a website that had anti-Semitic content. The CPS concluded that Dr Sizer had not committed a criminal offence (News, 4 May 2012).

Rabbi Dan Cohn-Sherbok, Professor Emeritus of Judaism at the University of Wales, wrote to Bishop Hill last year, saying that accusations that Dr Sizer was an anti-Semite were "completely without foundation" ( News, 13 April 2012).

A statement issued by Guildford diocese on Monday of last week said that both the Board of Deputies and Dr Sizer had "recently accepted the Bishop of Guildford's proposal of 'conciliation' as provided for by the Clergy Discipline Measure. He has asked for the process to be concluded within three months."

Two conciliators - one Jewish, and one Christian - had been nominated by Bishop Hill, and agreed by Dr Sizer and the Board, the statement said.

A spokesman for Guildford diocese said: "While it would be inappropriate to make any further comment at this stage until the process is complete, this development clearly represents important progress, given that the aim of conciliation under the Measure is to achieve a positive and constructive outcome, with expert support, through dialogue."

The Board said in a statement that it was "more than happy to test whether the complaint can be satisfactorily resolved by agreement".

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