Griffiths sentenced to eight years
THE Revd Meirion Griffiths, a former Rector of St Pancras’s, Chichester, has been jailed for eight years for sexually assaulting two women in the 1970s and ’80s. In January, at the end of a six-day trial, a jury at Portsmouth Crown Court found Mr Griffiths, aged 81, guilty of two counts of indecent assault, one of them involving multiple offences, against one of the victims, Julie Macfarlane, who was a teenager at the time; and two counts, again one of them involving multiple offences, against another woman, then in her mid-twenties (News, 14 January). Sentencing Mr Griffiths last month, Judge Roger Hetherington said that the effects of the abuse on two “highly impressionable, naive and innocent” victims were “devastating”.
Bell stolen from ‘smallest church in England’
A 291-YEAR-OLD bell has been stolen from “the smallest church in England”. The 3ft bell was taken overnight last week from Bremilham Church at Cowage Farm, Malmesbury, in Wiltshire. The Grade II listed building, which has one small pew and can hold a congregation of up to ten people, is a Guinness World Record holder. For many years, it was used to keep turkeys, but the current farmers cleaned it out and it was reconstituted as a church. Wiltshire Police are investigating the theft.
Salisbury Cathedral to install solar panels
NINETY-TWO solar panels are to be installed on the roof of the south cloister of Salisbury Cathedral, after planning permission was given by Wiltshire Council this week. The application was submitted by the Cathedral Chapter in December. The panels are expected to generate more than 30,000 kWh per year of electricity — the equivalent consumption of eight average UK houses. The project has received support from Historic England.
Barclays urged to disinvest from high-carbon projects
THE Church Commissioners and C of E Pensions Board are among the more than 100 individual shareholders who voted for a resolution calling on Barclays to cease funding fossil-fuel companies and high-carbon projects. The resolution, which will be voted on at Barclays’ annual investor meeting on 7 May, was filed by the campaign group Shareaction. It cites a survey from the Rainforest Action Network which suggests that, since the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015, Barclays has provided more than £66 billion of finance to high-carbon projects such as those for Arctic oil and gas.
Peers express dismay at Bill for easier divorce
A GROUP of Conservative peers has accused the Government of “pandering to the liberal consensus” by pushing ahead with the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill. The Bill seeks to allow couples to divorce without one partner having to blame the other for the marital breakdown. In a letter in The Daily Telegraph on Saturday, five peers wrote that this “ignores the interests of those who have lent them their votes and who do not want marriage undermined by divorce becoming incontestable. It will mean more, not fewer, children reeling from its aftermath.”
Bishop of Gloucester unconvinced by terrorism Bill
A BILL that seeks to end early release for terrorist offenders will not automatically improve public protection, the Bishop of Gloucester, the Rt Revd Rachel Treweek, has said. Speaking in a debate on the Terrorist Offenders (Restriction of Early Release) Bill in the House of Lords last week, she said: “It is unsatisfactory that the Bill has been produced in isolation from legislation that addresses the urgent need for significant support and reform of the Prison Service and probation services. Given the status quo of our criminal-justice system, we will not automatically improve public protection by simply keeping some of these offenders in prison for more of their sentence.”