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Last Updated: Friday, 7 December 2007, 17:15 GMT
Gay row bishop 'sorry for pain'
The Rt Rev Anthony Priddis
The Rt Rev Anthony Priddis said it was a 'difficult decision'
A bishop whom a tribunal ruled had rejected a man for a youth worker job because he was gay has apologised for the "hurt and pain" he has caused.

John Reaney, of Conwy, won his case for unlawful discrimination against the Hereford diocesan board of finance on the grounds of sexual orientation.

The Bishop of Hereford, the Rt Rev Anthony Priddis, voiced his regret and said it had been a difficult decision.

A ruling will be made on compensation next month.

The original tribunal heard that when Mr Reaney, 42, from Colwyn Bay, applied for the post he was questioned by the bishop, Rt Rev Anthony Priddis, about a gay relationship in a two hour meeting.

Three days later the bishop phoned him to say he had been unsuccessful.

I tried to do my best in a difficult situation to uphold the Church's teachings and do what was the best for the claimant, the diocese and the Church as a whole
Bishop of Hereford, Rt Rev Anthony Priddis

In his evidence to the original tribunal, Bishop Priddis said anyone in a sexual relationship outside marriage would have been rejected .

The tribunal ruled Mr Reaney, who now lives in Cardiff, had been discriminated against "on the grounds of sexual orientation".

In November, the Bishop of Hereford was named "Bigot of the Year" by gay rights group Stonewall, who supported Mr Reaney.

The bishop told the compensation hearing, he found that "publicly mocking".

"When they make derogatory statements about me personally, then that's clearly hurtful to me".

John Reaney
John Reaney has a two-hour meeting with Bishop Priddis

Bishop Priddis said the church did not discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation, adding: "We wouldn't want to be in a position where we discourage people of homosexual, lesbian or bisexual orientation to apply for posts".

Asked if the advertisement for the post should have told potential applicants they had to be celibate, the bishop agreed "with hindsight" and said that may be included in future adverts.

In a written statement, the bishop said:"I am very sorry for all the hurt and pain my decision not to appoint the claimant has caused him.

"I was concerned at the time and still am today."

'Do my best'

Bishop Priddis also said the case's high-profile media coverage was a source of "deep regret".

He added: "The media attention has, in my opinion, made matters worse for myself, the claimant and the Church of England as a whole."

The bishop also said he did "what I thought was right at the time, after much thought and prayer and discussion with others."

"I am very sorry for the hurt and pain my decision has caused the claimant.

"It was a very difficult decision for me to make and it was not taken lightly."

"I tried to do my best in a difficult situation to uphold the Church's teachings and do what was the best for the claimant, the diocese and the Church as a whole."

After the hearing a Stonewall spokesman said: "The tribunal ruled in July that the Bishop of Hereford acted unlawfully by discriminating against John Reaney, because of his sexual orientation.

"It is deeply regrettable that John has been forced to come back to endure further unnecessary cross-examination, which has been deeply distressing, when this matter could have been settled privately over the last four months."



SEE ALSO
Bishop 'bigot' claim over gay row
02 Nov 07 |  Hereford/Worcs
Gay man takes bishop to tribunal
01 Apr 07 |  Hereford/Worcs

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