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Sizer apologises after 'absurd' 9/11 link

30 January 2015

Dr Stephen Sizer

Dr Stephen Sizer

A VICAR who linked on social media to an article entitled "9/11 Israel did it?" has apologised.

The Revd Stephen Sizer, Vicar of Christ Church, Virginia Water, in Surrey, is reported to have posted the article on Facebook, with the comment: "Is this anti-Semitic? It raises so many questions."

A spokesman at the Church of Englands communications office said on Thursday: "These comments would rightly be seen as unacceptable whenever they were posted. It is a matter of deep sorrow and shame that they have been posted in this week of all weeks.

"The diocese of Guilford, where the Rev Sizer is licensed, is taking immediate steps to investigate," the spokesman said. "The diocese is aware of the seriousness of the matter and is also in  touch with  the Board of Deputies of British Jews."

The vice-president of the Board, Jonathan Akrush, said on Friday: "Posting a link and giving approval to an article which in effect accuses Jews of responsibility for the 9/11 atrocity is unquestionably antisemitic, just as it is beyond absurd."

On Friday, Dr Sizer said: "I very much regret and apologise for the distress caused by the sharing on Facebook of a link to an article about 9/11 from Wikispooks.

"It was particularly insensitive in that last week coincided with Holocaust Memorial Day. I removed the link as soon as I received adverse feedback, and realised that offence had been caused.  

"I have never believed Israel or any other country was complicit in the terrorist atrocity of 9/11, and my sharing of this material was ill-considered and misguided.

"At the request of the Diocese, I will be suspending my use of all social media and blogs with immediate effect and until further notice."

Dr Sizer has a troubled relationship with the Board of Deputies. He was investigated by the police in 2012 after a complaint was made about an article he posted on his Facebook page. The Crown Prosecution Service concluded that he had not committed any criminal offence (News, 16 March and 4 May 2012), but a formal complaint was brought by the Board of Deputies under the Clergy Discipline Measure (CDM). It was eventually resolved through conciliation (News, 25 October, 2013).

The report of the conciliation said that Dr Sizer did not accept the substance of the complaint;  but that he accepted that he should have "taken more care" before linking to the contents of certain websites. He agreed to ensure that three people would read his website and blog in order to check the content and monitor any links to websites.

On Friday, Mr Arkush said that Dr Sizer had "breached the terms" of these undertakings:  "This is a very serious matter and the Board will be taking further action."

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