Page last updated at 15:46 GMT, Wednesday, 14 May 2008 16:46 UK

Police protection for clergymen

Rev Kevin Scully
Rev Kevin Scully received black eyes and cuts to his face during the attack

Clergymen in east London have been given police protection after a second attack on a vicar in the area.

Police patrols have been stepped up around Bethnal Green and surrounding areas after the two assaults.

Rev Kevin Scully, of St Matthew's Church in Bethnal Green, was attacked last week when he asked a group of youths to move off the church steps.

The vicar of St-George-in-the-East Church in Shadwell less than a mile away was attacked by a gang in March.

The Church of England said it wanted to keep its land open to the community but protection was needed.

Police are keeping an open mind as to whether the two attacks are linked.

"Our Safer Neighbourhood Patrol has been stepped up in the area," said a Metropolitan Police spokesman. "We are liaising with multi-community and inter-faith groups."

The council and the police have now been galvanised into action and we are meeting to solve this problem
Rev Alan Green
Dean of Tower Hamlets

On 10 May, an 18-year-old man was arrested in connection with the attack on Rev Scully on 6 May.

He has been bailed to return to an east London police station on 11 June.

Rev Scully said : "It's not a particularly pleasant experience and these things come out of a specific situation, unfortunately this one bubbled over into what it did."

A 19-year-old man has been charged with the attack on Canon Michael Ainsworth, 57, on the grounds of St George-in-the-East Church.

He suffered cuts, bruises and two black eyes.

Rev Alan Green, Dean of Tower Hamlets, said : "It is unfortunate that there have been these two attacks in such a short period. The council and the police have now been galvanised into action and we are meeting to solve this problem."

He described the assault on Rev Scully as a "mindless act of violence" by drunken youths.

Police have appealed for anyone who has any information about the attack on Rev Scully to come forward.




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