Diocese 'Dismayed' about Inquiry U-Turn

By Matt Cresswell
Religious Intelligence
July 12, 2008

London: The Chelmsford Anglican diocese is dismayed that there will be no inquiry into the allegations surrounding Boris Johnson's former right hand man, Ray Lewis, who was deputy mayor of London.

The diocese, who employed Lewis as a priest in the mid-1990s, formerly said they would support Johnson in such an inquiry. However, the London Mayor abandoned plans for an inquiry after Mr Lewis resigned.

Lewis was London 's former Deputy Mayor for Young People before he resigned last Friday after allegations of financial and behavioural misconduct. The scandal broke after the Bishop of Barking, the Rt Rev David Hawkins, alerted Mayor Johnson to the fact that Lewis' ministry was restricted in 1999 after the allegations emerged.

The Bishop of Chelmsford's Chaplain, the Rev Chris Newlands, said: "We have expressed our disappointment that the inquiry isn't happening because it would have been a place where Ray could have answered the allegations."

He added: "It would have been great to have had that, rather than to leave the situation hanging as it is now."

Newland also refuted accusations that Chelmsford had 'sat' on the files regarding Lewis' conduct. "That is the difficult issue because you don't provide a reference for some one until it's called for."

He continued: "We don't know who or what clergy are being considered for what particular post we're not being difficult or obtuse by doing that."

Lewis was employed as a priest in the Chelmsford Diocese from 1993 to 1997 before he left the country to serve in the West Indies . Following his return to England his ministry was restricted in 1999 and was reinstated in 2005. However, instead of resuming it, Lewis set to work running boot camps for young offenders in the London area, a work which drew the attention of Mayor Johnson.

The Mayor said he reluctantly agreed to Lewis' resignation. "When presented with a string of unsubstantiated allegations my instinct was to fight and fight hard for Ray," he said. "I still hope that he can clear his name. I cannot deny however that my confidence in Ray was shaken by the discovery that he is not a fully fledged Justice of the Peace and I cannot deny that to be misled on this issue has made it harder for me to give Ray the backing necessary to continue in his role as Deputy Mayor".

The circumstances surrounding Lewis' resignation are a blow to the Christian community as Lewis had been a leading light in combating London 's booming knife crime.


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