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UK news in brief

10 October 2014

Driven out: the Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd John Pritchard, leaves his farewell event in a sidecar. He retires at the end of October, and last month the diocese held a "grand day out" to mark his departure

Driven out: the Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd John Pritchard, leaves his farewell event in a sidecar. He retires at the end of October, and last mon...

THE Metropolitan Police has launched a training film to raise awareness of parents' abusing children because they believe that they are possessed by evil spirits, or involved in witchcraft. The film was commissioned together with the Churches' Child Protection Advisory Service, and seeks to teach social workers, teachers, and other professionals working with children how to spot the signs of this type of abuse. The Met said that it had received 27 allegations of child abuse linked to beliefs in evil spirits or witchcraft this year, an increase on previous years.

THE Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam, has signed a petition by the Anglican Alliance calling on the Australian government, which is hosting the next G20 meeting, to include climate change on the agenda. Bishop Holtam, the C of E's lead bishop on environmental issues, said that rich countries, including the UK, needed to take responsibility for cutting emissions. Australia's Pacific Ocean island neighbours would be hardest hit by rising sea levels, Bishop Holtam said, and were also among the poorest and politically least powerful.

EMBRACE the Middle East, a Christian charity fighting poverty in the region, has urged the Government to recognise the state of Palestine formally, in order to begin to make amends for "Britain's historic failing of the Palestinian people". A backbench motion next Monday calls on the Government to recognise Palestine, which Sweden announced last week it would do. Embrace the Middle East's chief executive, Jeremy Moodey, said that recognising Palestine would send a message to Israel that the world would not stand by while it "denied the Palestinians . . . their basic rights".

WONGA's decision to write off £220 million of debt from 330,000 customers has been welcomed by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Speaking during his visit to Belfast, Archbishop Welby said that he was pleased when payday lenders put right mistakes from the past, such as lending to people who could never afford the debt. Wonga wrote off the debt after an investigation by the financial regulator last week. Archbishop Welby said that the challenge now was to create a financial system that gave the poor access to credit and savings without ruining their lives with excess debt. Paul Vallely column

A FORMER trustee of his church, and a magistrate, Patrick Coppeard, has pleaded guilty to fraud, after admitting that he had cheated his fellow churchgoers out of £3.2 million. Mr Coppeard took money from parishioners at St John the Baptist, Buckhurst Hill, in Essex, saying that he was investing it for them, from 2008 until last year. Any money returned to the investors, however, was taken from cash put in by others. Mr Coppeard eventually confessed to the church's Rector, the Revd Dr Ian Farley, and handed himself in to the police. He will be sentenced later this month.

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