Church employed fascist to carry out pastoral care

Hayley Dixon
Ken Kearsey campaigning for Britain First as he tries to get elected in Dorset  

The Church of England employed a self-avowed fascist and Britain First candidate to carry out pastoral duties in the community, it has emerged.

Ken Kearsey, who has also represented the far-right group attempting to resurrect Sir Oswald Mosley’s Blackshirts, was appointed to work with young people and children, carry out home visits and support the vulnerable on behalf of his local church.

Since being alerted to his views the Rt Revd Karen Gorham, the Bishop of Sherborne, has removed Mr Kearsey’s commission.

However, the fact that he was trained and authorised to carry out sensitive work will raise questions about the church's vetting processes.

It is understood that the police are now monitoring his political work.

The Diocese of Salisbury confirmed Mr Kearsey as a Lay Pastoral Assistant in January, confirming that the role was to “engage in pastoral ministry on behalf of the local church, working as part of a team of clergy and laity”.

They said that the tasks could include “hospital and home visiting, working with children and young people, supporting the recently bereaved, helping people prepare for baptisms, confirmations and weddings and/or leading services in sheltered and residential homes.”

Leaflets for Ken Kearsey's election campaign 

It is understood that he signed up to become a candidate for the local election in Littlemoor/Preston Ward  in Dorset around the same time as he was appointed.

The diocese refused to say what vetting was carried out before Mr Kearsey was commissioned.

He has also acted as the regional officer in the south for the New British Union, a group which is attempting to resurrect Sir Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists from the 1930s.

Before his appointment, Mr Kearsey posted a public image of Sir Oswald on his Facebook page with the party name and the question: “Are you content with things the way they are”.

Mr Kearsey’s name no longer appears as one of the New British Union officers on their website, which uses Sir Oswald’s lightning bolt logo.

However in a previous copy of their magazine, the Blackshirt, which is still available online, Mr Kearsey wrote: “My journey to Fascism has been a gradual one over the years as it's become increasingly apparent that Socialism/Communism and the left generally do not have the solutions to our nation's problems and concern.”

He added the he has “always been involved with animal rights/welfare organisations, hunt sabs, animal aid, etc. I am a committed Christian and currently training with the Church of England.”

 The Rt Revd Karen Gorham, Bishop of Sherborne, has now removed his commission 

In a letter asking him to renounce his views, the Bishop wrote that “far right political party Britain First has been criticised by every major Christian denomination in the UK.

“The established and local Church wants nothing to do with anything which insights hatred, and spreads fear and mistrust, particularly amongst some of our most vulnerable people.”

She said that she needed to raise it “particularly in light of what has happened in New Zealand” and noted the “damaging effect this will have on our work”.

When Mr Kearsey responded refusing to give up his party and saying that Britain needed to “wake up” to the fact that Britain will soon be an “Islamic state” he was asked to leave the church.

The series of letters were published on the Britain First website.

Richard Drax MP said: “Clearly extreme political views are unacceptable. My message would be that everyone who employs anyone, particularly in positions of sensitivity like that in the church, needs to make sure that background checks are done and they are not employing anyone with extreme political views”.

Tim Bonner, chief executive of the Countryside Alliance, said that it is “no surprise to see that a self-described fascist is also a Hunt Saboteur” as there is a long history of activists “promoting extreme right wing views”.

He said: “This emphasises again that the anti-hunting movement is primarily about extreme politics rather than any real concern about animal welfare.”

A spokesman for the diocese said: “Mr Ken Kearsey had put himself forward to train as a Lay Pastoral Assistant. This is an unpaid role. He had only just been commissioned to do the role. This commission has been withdrawn as a result of his association with this political party and that he will not be permitted to take part in a further ministry within this Diocese.”