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UK news in brief

06 August 2021


The Revd Tim Hewes outside the News Corp offices, on Monday

The Revd Tim Hewes outside the News Corp offices, on Monday

Glue protester sews lips to shame Murdoch

A RETIRED priest, the Revd Tim Hewes, sewed his lips shut and stood outside the offices of News Corp, in London, on Monday, to protest against the company’s owner, Rupert Murdoch, for his “denial of the climate emergency”. Mr Hewes, who is 71 and has permission to officiate in Oxford diocese, made a video statement before he sewed up his lips, published by Christian Climate Action. He said: “Today there are countless people throughout the world who are voiceless and suffering because of the climate emergency. Climate science and truth has been muted, and those who suffer are not being heard. I have tried every other way I can think of to end the influences and madness represented by Rupert Murdoch and his denial of the climate emergency.” Another priest, the Revd Mark Coleman, attempted to deliver a letter to Ben Webster, Environment Editor of The Times, which News Corp owns, but was told that Mr Webster was not in the building. Mr Hewes was sentenced to 14 days in prison, in March, for contempt of court, after glueing himself to courtroom furniture during hearings arising from an Extinction Rebellion protest (News, 26 March).

Hertfordshire church targeted by vandals

ST MARY MAGDALENE’s, Caldecote, in Hertfordshire, was damaged by vandals on Thursday of last week. It had reopened only ten days before, having been closed for nine months while repairs were carried out. A message posted on the church’s Facebook page last Friday said: “Late afternoon yesterday, 29 July, our church was targeted in a mindless act of vandalism. Although nothing of value was stolen, vandals amused themselves by using CO2 fire extinguishers inside, smothering everything in a layer of fine white powder.” The church would be closed while police investigated the matter and cleaning took place, the message said.

New chair and vice-chair for Anglican HE network

THE Vice-Chancellor of Bishop Grosse­teste University, Lincoln, Canon Professor Peter Neil, has been elected to chair the Colleges and Universities of the Anglican Communion (CUAC), a network of more than 160 Anglican higher-education institutions in five continents. The former Bishop of Newcastle, the Rt Revd Martin Wharton, has been elected vice-chair. It is thought to be the first time that the holders of both positions have been British.

MPs call for curb on second homes and holiday lets

THE Christian MP and former Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Tim Farron, launched a petition last week which called for planning laws to be changed to stop family homes being turned into second homes and holiday lets. Mr Farron, who is MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale, in Cumbria, said: “In rural places across the United Kingdom from Cumbria to Cornwall, and Wales to Northumberland, the explosion in the number of family homes being turned into second homes and holiday lets is turning our beautiful vibrant communities into ghost towns.” The Bishop of Truro, the Rt Revd Philip Mounstephen, said in a debate on the housing crisis at the General Synod last month that the purchase of second homes in Cornwall was having a devastating impact on the wider community in denying homes to local people (News, 16 July). There was also crisis in the rented sector, he said. The Sunday Times reported this week that Conservative MPs in areas such as Norfolk and Cornwall were urging the Housing Secretary, Robert Jenrick, to introduce measures such as regulation of Airbnb rentals; incentives to landlords to rent to local people; and restrictions on the numbers of holiday and second homes.

Retired priest sentenced for downloading images

A RETIRED priest, Paul Battersby, who is 72, was sentenced to four years in prison at York Crown Court, on Tuesday, for downloading images of child sexual abuse. Police uncovered 832 images on Mr Battersby’s internet devices when they arrived unannounced at his home last October to carry out checks, the BBC reports. In addition to a four-year sentence, with an extended licence of three years, Mr Battersby, of Spencer Walk, Skipton, was also handed a new sexual-harm-prevention order, and ordered to sign the sex-offenders register. Mr Battersby was sentenced to 20 months in prison in 2017, after a Liverpool Crown Court heard that he had downloaded more than 1700 indecent images (News, 1 September 2017). He received a suspended prison sentence in relation to child-sex offences in 2008 (News, 26 March 2008).

Changing Attitude defines ‘radical Christian inclusion’

THE steering group of Changing Attitude England has published a definition of what it understands by the term “radical Christian inclusion”, after writing to the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, in May, to ask for a definition. In February 2017, Archbishop Welby called for “a radical new Christian inclusion in the Church”, after the Synod voted against the House of Bishops’ report on sexuality (News, 17 February 2017). The Changing Attitude definition is: “LGBTIQ+ people will be fully and equally included in the life and practice of the Church of England when equal marriage, the blessing of our relationships and equality in ministry are achieved.”


AlamyMemorial protest: the Bishop of Dover, the Rt Revd Rose Hudson-Wilkin, speaks at a Reclaim These Streets event to remember the murdered sisters Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman at Fryant Country Park, Wembley, north London, on Tuesday  

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