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Canon asks for the return of firearms

17 October 2014

A BITTER dispute between a retired lay canon of Manchester Cathedral and his vicar has been revealed in a court hearing held to determine whether Greater Manchester Police should return the former canon's firearms.

The police removed a shotgun and two target-shooting rifles from 71-year-old Adrian Golland's home and revoked his firearms licence over concerns about his behaviour towards the Vicar of St Paul's, Astley Bridge, the Revd Nick McKee. At a firearms licence appeal-hearing in Bolton Crown Court, Mr Golland asked Judge Timothy Clayson and two lay magistrates to overturn the police's decision.

It was revealed at the hearing that Mr Golland's dispute with Mr McKee stemmed from March 2012, when a sink and electrical socket were installed in the church. Mr McKee closed off the area around the "sink facility".

The barrister for the police, Louise Brandon, told the court that Mr McKee thought the socket was unsafe, even though Mr Golland had brought in a professional electrician to install it.

"My reputation at St Paul's had been seriously damaged by the closure of what was deemed to be my work," Mr Golland told the court. "I valued my reputation, and it had been trashed in the eyes of the congregation."

It was the start of a dispute in which Mr Golland was accused of staring at Mr McKee during services, and sending emails to congregation members. Mr Golland, however, told the court that the issue was the result of a "vendetta" orchestrated by Mr McKee.

At a meeting with the Archdeacon of Bolton, the Ven David Bailey, Mr Golland was asked to stay away from the church. He refused, saying that he would not be driven away from a church he had worshipped at for 15 years, before Mr McKee's arrival.

Last December, he was served with an anti-harassment warning notice by the police. In March, the police revoked his licence and seized his firearms.

Police were asked to attend the annual parochial church meeting, where Mr Golland raised the issue of his firearms and asked Mr McKee for a public statement to the effect that he had never threatened violence towards him.

The court reserved its decision, and will hand down its judgment on 28 October.

In a statement issued last week, a spokesman for the diocese of Manchester said: "We are aware that there has been an issue involving the church building at St Paul's, Astley Bridge.

"We have made efforts to support pastorally all the parties involved, and to resolve the situation for the benefit of everyone concerned."

The Revd Nick McKee was not contactable.

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