Sunday, October 28, 2007


Remember the anti-Christian Gay Police advert ?

It stated: "In the last 12 months, the GPA has recorded a 74% increase in homophobic incidents, where the sole or primary motivating factor was the religious belief of the perpetrator."

It was slapped down by the Advertising Standards Authority as breaching their guidelines on decency, truthfulness and substantiation (i.e. the "evidence" mysteriously failed to materialise when the ASA (presumably) asked for it).

You'd think this would be an unsavoury episode the GPA would want to forget all about.

Not so.

Gay Christians have been presented with an award for their work in combating homophobia.

The award was given to the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (LGCM) following their support for a controversial advert which appeared in the Independent newspaper, challenging faith-based homophobia ...

He went on to praise Richard Kirker for the support that he and members of the LGCM had offered the GPA in response to the campaign organised by some Evangelical and Fundamentalist groups who had opposed the contents of the GPA advertisement. Rev Kirker at the time had described the advertisement as “courageous and wholly justifiable in exposing the scourge of religiously motivated homophobia”. He had also made contact with the Home Office, the Metropolitan Police and the Advertising Standards Agency, defending the actions of the GPA. As a result of the response to the GPA advertisement, in February 2007 LGCM hosted the very first national conference on Faith, Homophobia and Human Rights which was supported by 50 other organisations.

In fairness, Ekklesia (the Guardian at prayer) may be putting their own special emphasis on the advert. There are other reasons for the award.

Introducing the award Kevin Boyle a member of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the Gay Police Association (GPA) said that Richard Kirker, chief executive of the LGCM, had first come to his attention in June 2000 when he was involved in a police investigation into homophobic attacks against the Rev Follett, the Vicar of Knightsbridge.

At the time the investigation attracted huge media interest. Kevin stated that whilst many in the church had condemned the victim because of his sexual orientation, Richard Kirker had gone on record to urge the Bishop of London not to tolerate the homophobic witch-hunt. Richard Kirker had also supported the police investigation and had supported the Rev Follett throughout the protracted enquiry.

I know nowt about l'affaire Follett, but a quick Google gave me this BBC report.

Father Neil Follett, vicar of St Paul's, Knightsbridge, is in hiding on police advice after finding himself the victim of a hate campaign.

Police are investigating allegations of blackmail and intimidation after Fr Follett told the parochial church council he was gay.

Blackmail and intimidation, eh ? In hiding on police advice ? The Register had more.

The Reverend Neil Follett, 50, struck up a friendship with a German academic over the Internet. This resulted in the German visiting him at his Victorian vicarage in London's exclusive Knightsbridge district. But the relationship soured, according to today's Times newspaper, after the two bickered over an alleged credit-card bill. The academic decided to play his trump card, and threatened to reveal the Rev's sexuality secret to the tabloids.

Follet, who has three kids and is separated from his wife, revealed details of the blackmail to churchwardens and members of the parochial church council and told them he was gay, before doing a bunk on police advice. The scandal came just days after churchwarden Captain Ian Powe - who commanded HMS Yarmouth during the 'Cod War' - was arrested for alleged anti-gay harassment against Follet. Captain Powe, who has denied any wrongdoing, is out on bail.

Captain Powe was at the time 67 years old, chair of the Standards Committee of his local council and chair of the British Gas Consumers council. Also arrested was Maggie Quaile, a 63 year old member of the congregation.

The human heart is a difficult thing to fathom. But do these sound like the kind of people who'd put you in fear of your life ? The police obviously thought so.

As so often, it was difficult to find out what became of the police investigation. This hard to read text feed was the only information I could find.

The Metropolitan police could face a £30,000 legal bill over the "distressing" treatment of two church wardens by a gay officer investigating threats against a gay vicar. Captain Ian Powe,67, and Maggie Quaile,63, of St Paul's parish in Knightsbridge have received an apology from the police. Powe and Quaile were arrested by Detective Sergean Paul Cahill, who has since been promoted to inspector, in June last year when the vicar, the Rev Neill Follett, claimed he was being blackmailed by his former gay lover. After a "vindictive and homophobic" fax was received by one of Rev Follett's friends, Powe and Quaile were arrested and held at Belgravia police station for six hours. They were released without charge. The case has never been resolved. DS Cahill is chairman of the Lesbian and Gay Police Association. His decision, however, to arrest the church wardens who were happy to help with police enquiries, is now in question. A letter from Detective Chief Superintendent Shaun Swyer, Commander of Professional Standards Internal Investigations to Capt Powe reads: 'It is my view that your arrest was disproportionate and heavy-handed. I wish to apologise for your distress'. Capt Power is now attempting to recoup his £30,000 legal bill. Cahill told the Mail on Sunday that he "treated this investigation with no bias". Rev Neill Follett has since retired.

Captain Powe wasn't too chuffed by his arrest.

"I used to have an expression that worse things happen at sea," Powe said earlier this week. "I'm not using it any more." At St Paul's, Powe is seen as the second victim in the case. "I don't think he'll be saying much at the moment," said one parish insider. "Not after what he has been through."

This unfortunate episode may have upset the good Captain, but it hasn't done DS Cahill any harm. He was promoted to Inspector and made MBE in 2003.

There's a danger that relationship between the LGCM and the police may come to be seen as appearing to consist of the LGCM encouraging police harrassment of the "wrong sort" of Christians - then applauding it whan it occurs. Here's another snippet of Mr Kirker's gracious acceptance speech.

He went on to say that it was in this context that the work that Deputy Chief Constable (DCC) Mike Cunningham of Lancashire Police was doing on behalf of ACPO (Association of Chief Police Officers) was so important. He said that, “Your recommendation that religious views should be expressed “in an appropriate fashion” and “does not confer a right to express those beliefs … in a manner that amounts to discrimination against others” will, I hope help bring to an end the acceptability of religiously expressed homophobia across the whole police service.

Ah yes - Lancashire Police.

A Christian couple from Lancashire have been awarded £10,000 in an out-of-court settlement after they were questioned by police about their moral beliefs. Helen and Joe Roberts, from Fleetwood, complained about taxpayers' money being used for leaflets about gay rights and called homosexuality "immoral".

Wyre Borough Council informed Lancashire Constabulary. Officers then quizzed the couple for over an hour. The council and police said they had now apologised to the Roberts. They also said policies had been revised to protect all parties.

(We all pay for the GPA through our taxes, as we pay for similar organisations representing black and female officers. Alas, representatives of the Straight Police Association could not be contacted.)

UPDATE - Me no understand. The disgusting murder of David Morley got the full "homophobia" treatment, including Rasputin blaming Christians. Fortunately the murderers turned out not to be "homophobes", just a bunch of young Londoners out for a good evening.
Yet there's been nothing about the murder of Anthony Hoare.