Bishop of Lancaster believes legal action threat was ‘quite proportionate’

'Proportionate': Bishop Michael Campbell
'Proportionate': Bishop Michael Campbell
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The Bishop of Lancaster believes his threat over legal action against an ill parishioner was “quite proportionate”, a spokesman for the cleric has said.

As previously reported in the Evening Post, Bishop Michael Campbell made the threat of legal action to parishioner Philip Bannister, over an email Mr Bannister had written him about the closure of two Preston churches.

Mr Bannister is upset at the closure of St Ignatius and St Augustine’s churches, and wrote to the Bishop to protest at the decision.

But it was a paragraph in which Mr Bannister cast doubt on whether the Bishop would read his email personally that got him hot under the collar.

Bishop Campbell accused Mr Bannister of making a “most serious – and defamatory – allegation” directed against his secretary.

He said the comment had “no basis in truth whatsoever” and added that he would “seek legal recourse” unless Mr Bannister withdrew the statement.

Mr Bannister, who is awaiting a bypass operation, apologised and withdrew his remark.

Now a spokesman for the Bishop has talked to the Catholic Herald newspaper about the incident.

The spokesman said: “What the bishop was objecting to was that Mr Bannister was defaming the reputation of the secretary.

“When people put things in print and then distribute it to a third party, the bishop feels it was quite proportionate to at least state that it is an option to take legal action.”

The closure of the two Preston churches has sparked strong feelings among city churchgoers.

One parishioner, Moira Cardwell, threatened to chain herself to the railings in protest.