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UK news in brief

23 January 2015


Milkers: a cattle shed on a dairy farm in Devon 

Milkers: a cattle shed on a dairy farm in Devon 

Dairy farmers win church support

THE Arthur Rank Centre has urged people to pray for dairy farmers hit by a financial crisis at a key dairy co-operative. In a statement, it said that farmers were being paid less and less for milk, and a two-week delay in payments from the First Milk co-operative would significantly hurt the industry. The C of E's National Rural Officer, Canon Jill Hopkinson, also said that churchgoers should seek to buy British dairy products with the Red Tractor kitemark, and support supermarkets that paid farmers a fair price.

Christian Concern settles with QE2 Centre

THE pressure group Christian Concern has reached a settlement in its dispute with a Government-owned conference centre. Christian Concern had been due to hold a conference arguing against gay marriage in 2012, but it was cancelled by their hosts, the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, Westminster, the day before it was to take place (News, 24 May 2012). The two parties have come to a settlement, however, and have released a joint statement, in which the Centre "regrets" its decision to cancel the booking, accepts that Christian Concern's position on marriage is "sincerely held" and that it is free to express it. In the statement, the Government also reaffirms its commitment to freedom of religion, speech, and association.

Abolish liability, says Bishop, but compensate

THE Bishop of Derby, Dr Alistair Redfern, speaking in the House of Lords on Thursday of last week, backed the abolition of chancel-repair liability, but insisted that it could be done only with compensation. Certain landowners are legally liable to maintain the chancel of a parish church. The Government intends to abolish the liability after the next election, but Dr Redfern argued that it should be disposed of only if landowners paid an appropriate sum to the parish in compensation for the relief.

Former diocesan press officer charged

A FORMER press officer for the diocese of Truro, Jeremy Dowling, has been charged with 15 counts of sexual assault against boys under the age of 16. Mr Dowling, who retired from the diocesan post in 2009, was working at a primary school in Devon when the assaults are alleged to have taken place, during the 1960s. The diocese said that it was "deeply concerned" about the charges, which related to a time before Mr Dowling was employed by the diocese.

Vicar pleads not guilty in fraud case

THE Vicar of Haverhill with Withersfield, Canon Ian Finn, has pleaded not guilty to a charge of fraud by abuse of position between 2007 and 2014. He is accused of defrauding his church of £13,000 in fees for services. He has been suspended until the trial at Ipswich Crown Court is concluded.

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