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Bishop Walker heckled for support of refugees

29 January 2016

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Challenged and challenging: the Bishop of Manchester, Dr David Walker, speaking about refugees last week in London

Challenged and challenging: the Bishop of Manchester, Dr David Walker, speaking about refugees last week in London

THE Bishop of Manchester, Dr David Walker, has been interrupted during a talk on the refugee crisis by hecklers who criticised his views, and called immigrants “aliens” and criminals.

Dr Walker was taking part in a panel discussion in St Mary-le-Bow, in London, on Thursday of last week, when a man stood up to demand representation from those who are opposed to refugees entering the UK. The heckler, who was accompanied by two other white British men, shouted that Dr Walker’s comments on refugees’ benefiting the economy were “stupid and treasonable”.

The Bishop also spoke about the differences in public opinion on refugees, and the hate mail he receives on the subject, in particular from supporters of the notion that charity should “begin and end at home”.

“That is not an attitude we take to any other area of spending,” the Bishop said. “Poverty will always be with us: we must tackle it on every front; we must tackle human need on every front, including the need of those who flee from terror and war, and end up on our shores.”

Dr Walker was one of 84 C of E bishops to write publicly to the Prime Minister in October, suggesting that Britain should take 50,000 Syrian refugees.

The Church, he said, was at the forefront of responding to the crisis: “When I’m asked why the Church Commissioners don’t spend their money on combating homelessness and other social evils, I explain that that’s exactly what they do, by providing a network of clergy in poorer areas.”

Also speaking at the event was the programmes manager at the Refugee Support Network, Eleanor Bowerman, who said: “Refugees certainly aren’t a new thing, but in the past two months the scale, media coverage, and public response has been different,” she said. “People want to help.”

A spokeswoman from St Mary-le-Bow said: “We don’t ordinarily get such extreme rabble-rousers at our events, but I suppose it was public, and a highly emotive subject.”

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