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29th Jun, 2022

Bishop attacked in row over ‘political’ tweets in online clash with Worcester's council leader

Rob George 2nd Jun, 2022

WORCESTER’s Conservative council leader has accused the Bishop of Worcester of ‘getting involved in party politics’ after the pair became embroiled in an online Twitter spat over Partygate.

Coun Marc Bayliss made the claims against Dr John Inge after the Bishop shared a Times interview by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby in which he said he had a ‘duty’ to speak out on issues such as the parties scandal, migrants and social media.

Minutes before Bishop John shared the interview on his Twitter account, Coun Bayliss suggested unelected bishops and archbishops appeared to be trying to drive elected leaders from office.

He went on to suggest Bishop John should use a separate Twitter account when speaking in a private capacity, much to the annoyance of the head of the church in Worcestershire who said: “I tweeted it because I thought, like me, others might find it interesting.

“In any event, I’m afraid I don’t have a ‘private Twitter account’. Feel free to unfollow me if you want.”

The row centres around the increasing pressure on Prime Minister Boris Johnson as letters demanding a vote of confidence continued to trickle in.

In the debate which followed Coun Bayliss said: “My point is if you (Bishop John) want to get involved in party politics don’t use your office holder account to do it.

“It will help keep your job and your private views separate. You wouldn’t expect the chief constable or high court judge to give personal political views using an official account.

When asked about last week’s Sue Gray report by Bishop John, Coun Bayliss said: “It doesn’t reflect well and I’m glad changes at Number 10 have already been made.

“But they were doing an extraordinarily difficult job in an unparalleled time and the vaccine programme was a huge success. We also have bigger concerns right now.

In response, Bishop John said: “I never express party political views but I do stand up for decency and integrity in public life.

“The only tweets I have written recently which could be construed as anything like political were quotes, The Spectator’, hardly a left wing journal.

“Standing up for truth, justice and integrity is political. There are no bigger concerns than integrity and trust. Without them, we are lost.

“Like so many, I was prevented from visiting the sick, took funerals which most loved ones were unable to attend, whilst at Number 10 they were partying – in defiance of their own rules. It’s a disgrace,” he added.

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