Updated yet again Thursday evening
The Guardian has a news report about the apology! See Times apologises for bishop story.
The Times issued this apology in the News in Brief column:
Bishop of Southwark
We were wrong to say in our headlines (June 6, 2007, front page and page 4) that the report of Judge Rupert Bursell, QC, into a complaint of drunkenness against Dr Tom Butler, the Bishop of Southwark, had concluded that Dr Butler was drunk. Judge Bursell did not hear any evidence or reach any conclusions as to the truth of the complaint. We apologise to Dr Butler for the distress and embarrassment this must have caused him.
Times archive Dec 19, 2006: Bishop of Southwark denies being drunk
Wednesday evening update
Damian Thompson offers an explanation for all this in The Bishop’s hangover.
The report in The Times has been republished at a new URL, with a new headline, Leaked report into Bishop of Southwark.
And there has been a further write-through of the Daily Mail report, now headlined Whitewash claims over bishop cleared of drunkenness.
The story has been removed from the website of The Times although it still appears here. A new version of the story Bishop of Southwark escapes disciplinary action for drinking now appears on the Daily Mail website. And according to the Wimbledon Guardian:
The Bishop of Southwark is to go to the Press Complaints Commission after a report in the Times claimed he was drunk after a Christmas party.
The newspaper said a leaked Church of England document confirmed the Right Reverend Tom Butler was inebriated when he left a bash at the Irish Embassy.
But Lambeth Palace, which took “no further action” after a full investigation into the incident, said the preliminary report was based entirely upon a complainant’s account…
And, Ruth Gledhill has written further about all this on her blog at Judge’s report into Bishop of Southwark.
My original article:
Following a report in The Times by Ruth Gledhill and Lucy Bannerman the following press briefing from Lambeth Palace was issued early this morning:
Times report on the Bishop of Southwark – a correction
A report in today’s Times is headlined Bishop was drunk after Christmas Party, leaked report says (online version as at 12.35am; wording for other versions may differ). The headline accompanies a story about a report into allegations around an incident last December involving the Bishop of Southwark, the Rt Revd Dr Tom Butler.
The suggestion in the headline that the report has concluded that the Bishop was drunk is completely misleading. It comes as a result of a misunderstanding of 1) what the report, prepared by Chancellor Bursell, is intended to address, 2) the stage it represents in the procedures of clergy discipine, and 3) the untested nature of the allegations which were set out in the complaint.
The report in question was a preliminary report, intended merely to assess whether – if true – the allegations made by the complainant would be strong enough to justify proceeding further with the disciplinary process under the Clergy Discipline Measure. The report’s finding is that some of the allegations – if true – would be serious enough to justify being taken on to the next stage. Some allegations it discounts.
At this preliminary stage, no explanation or answer by the person complained against is required or expected. Only at the next stage would the opportunity be given to the person complained against to give his side of the story. This report, therefore, is based on only the complainant’s account.
For that reason, the report does not make any judgement as to the truth of the allegations. A footnote makes it clear that other evidence ‘may in due time put a different complexion on the matter’ and, crucially, a clause in brackets makes it clear that the question of the truth of any allegation is yet to be determined: Chancellor Bursell qualifies references to the alleged drunkenness in the complaint with the phrase ‘if it occurred’.
The finding of the report was that the complaint was sufficiently serious to justify further exploration under the Measure. Although the complainant was not qualified under the Measure to bring it forward, a subsequent complaint was taken to the next stage in the disciplinary process, enabling the bishop to give his own account of what had happened. It was only at that point, on the basis of all the evidence then before the Archbishop, that he took the decision, announced last month, that no further action should be taken.
It would, therefore, be entirely misleading to represent this preliminary report as being any kind of judgement or finding that the Bishop of Southwark was drunk on the night in question.
Revd Jonathan Jennings
Archbishop’s Press Secretary