Senior Church of England bishops have claimed they have received hate mail and death threats after speaking out about Dominic Cummings’ lockdown travels.
Bishop of Worcester John Inge tweeted that he received an email warning “stay out of politics or we’ll kill you” after he criticised Boris Johnson’s “risible defence” of Mr Cummings.
Helen-Ann Hartley, the bishop of Ripon, reported a similar threat, posting: “‘Stay out of politics or it will be the death of you’ was one of the emails I received today. Thank you to those who have sent supportive messages.”
She had earlier written about missing her father’s birthday during the lockdown as he recovered from radiotherapy.
Rev Hartley said she was “following up” the hate email with police.
Received a delightful e-mail earlier: ‘Stay out of politics or we’ll kill you.’ For me the whole Cummings drama is not about politics but life and death. If trust in Government guidance is eroded we’ll have a second spike and 1000s of lives will be lost.— John Inge (@BishopWorcester)May 25, 2020
Christine Hardman, bishop of Newcastle, wrote: “I too received such an email. I feel concern for the person who sent it and will hold him or her in prayer.”
The previous night she had posted that she was “deeply troubled” by the Prime Minister’s defence of his adviser.
“We can forgive mistakes and poor judgement and can understand and admire loyalty but forgiveness and understanding need openness and we did not see this tonight,” she wrote.
Paul Bayes, the bishop of Liverpool, added that he had also received abuse, writing: “Public life in Britain today. Many of us have received this sort of message. It doesn’t work.”
‘Stay out of politics or it will be the death of you’ was one of the emails I received today. Thank you to those who have sent supportive messages. https://t.co/OzB1PLuMtD— Helen-Ann Hartley (@h_ahartley)May 25, 2020
The abuse emerged after Mr Cummings held an hour-long press conference defending his actions in late March and early April, when he and his family drove from London to his parents’ farm in Durham.
Mr Cummings refused to apologise or express regret, saying he feared about how his young son would be looked after if he was incapacitated by the illness.
The bishops were among a number of Church of England representatives who had condemned the PM for standing by his adviser over a trip from London to County Durham during the national lockdown.
Paul Butler, the bishop of Durham, tweeted: “There will be those in Durham who defend #Boris for his standing by #DominicCummngs.
“But most who have worked so hard to abide by the rules and guidance of the past weeks will feel hurt, angry, & let down. Trust has been broken. For the nation’s sake rebuild it quickly.”
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has not commented publicly on Mr Cummings’ controversy, but recently warned the Government that cuts to public spending after the coronavirus outbreak would be “catastrophic”.
In an interview with the BBC, Mr Welby had said “going for austerity again would be the most terrible mistake”.
PA Media contirbuted to this article