Cleric accused of sabotaging cathedral’s war commemoration
Trustee claims acting dean neglected to promote event because he did not like its military flavour
A ROW has broken out over an armistice service at a cathedral, after a senior cleric was accused of sabotaging a First World War Commonwealth ceremony.
Trustees at the Peterborough Cathedral Trust have claimed that Dean Tim Alban Jones, the former acting dean of the cathedral, deliberately failed to promote the Oct 6 event, which has now been cancelled, because he did not approve of its military flavour.
Jimmy James, the secretary of the trust, said that Mr Alban Jones had put pressure on the organisers to change the emphasis from celebrating the Commonwealth’s contribution to victory in the First World War to commemorating the armistice.
The cathedral said the event had been cancelled because of “disappointing” ticket sales, which meant running costs would not have been covered.
Mr James said that as of yesterday, fewer than 100 tickets had been sold of the 750 that would be needed to fill the cathedral.
He blamed Mr Alban Jones, now vice-dean of the cathedral, for failing to promote the event properly.
Mr James said advertising for the event had been delayed by two months at Mr Alban Jones’s behest, and that events had deliberately been scheduled for shortly before and after the evening, and promoted before the trust’s event, to damage ticket sales.
“He was the one who managed to persuade the rest of the clergy to put pressure on our chairman and say we shouldn’t be celebrating the victory, we should just be commemorating the participation in the war, so the whole thing makes him feel uncomfortable,” he told The Daily Telegraph. “He’s got a problem with all of that, I think, in common with a lot of Church of England clergy.”
Asked if he believed the event was deliberately sabotaged, Mr James said: “I’d get pretty close to that, yes, very close indeed.”
Prominent figures such as the High Commissioners of Australia and Canada were due to appear at the event, which was to feature “military music from around the Commonwealth” and First World War songs.
Trustees said it would have raised £15,000 for the cathedral, which has been beset by financial problems.
A cash flow crisis in 2016 meant that the cathedral had to be bailed out by a loan from the Church Commissioners, after it was revealed that staff were in danger of not being paid.
Mr Alban Jones, who is also chaplain to the Bishop of Peterborough, was acting dean between October last year and January this year, when the current dean Chris Dalliston took over.
John Higgs, treasurer of the trust, was “furious” at the cancellation.
“It’s an absolutely nonsensical decision,” he said, adding that the committee had been planning the event for more than a year and he had been forced to tell almost 100 choir members that it would no longer be going ahead with less than a month’s notice.
A spokesman for the cathedral said: “The Cathedral regrets that sales of tickets for the commemoration of the Commonwealth contribution to World War I, Forward Together, have been disappointing.
“Because of this, and despite generous sponsorship, the costs of running the event would not have been covered. With great reluctance the deci- sion was therefore taken to cancel what would have been a memorable event.
“We hope that the many other commemorative events being held at the Cathedral, within Peterborough, and around the diocese will offer the opportunity for everyone properly to recognise the sacrifices of all who fought in this tragic war.”
The cathedral’s website promises refunds for ticket holders and sponsors.