Anger after Archbishop moves Syrian family out of his Palace
THE Archbishop of Canterbury is under fire for ‘uprooting’ a family of Syrian refugees from their home in the grounds of his official residence.
The Most Rev Justin Welby’s decision to ask the family of two adults and four school-age children to leave their home at Lambeth Palace has infuriated the head of the local school where the children are taught.
Andrew Chaplin, head of Walnut Tree Walk Primary in South London, complained directly to Lambeth Palace about the treatment of the family. He believes they should have been allowed to stay there indefinitely and is angry they have been moved to a different part of the capital away from friends and neighbours.
It is likely to prove a major embarrassment for the Archbishop who has spent the past few days trying to portray the Church ‘as a passionate supporter of the oppressed’.
Mr Chaplin’s concerns are detailed in a Lambeth Palace email – a copy of which has been obtained by The Mail on Sunday.
In the email, dated May 23 this year, one Lambeth official writes to another: ‘I’ve just had a phone call from Andrew Chaplin. Andrew is upset and angry that the family are being asked to move out of Lambeth Palace, and questions why we asked them to come to live at the Palace if we are then asking them to leave. I tried to explain it was never our intention they should be uprooted, but that it has ended up being so difficult to find a house for them locally this has been impossible to avoid.’
The Archbishop’s 2016 decision to move the family into a four bedroomed cottage in the grounds of Lambeth Palace was widely publicised. But the email suggests the move may have been problematic.
The official wrote: ‘What I should have said was the main reason to move them out is because, actually, it’s in their best interests to go – life at LP [Lambeth Palace] is not suitable for a refugee family, and having taken the advice of the agencies we work with it seems best to help them… increase their independence.’
Lambeth Palace last night said the family had moved to accommodation provided by Lambeth Council, and Southwark Diocese team members were providing ‘ongoing support’.
UNDER FIRE: Archbishop Justin Welby poses for snap in Lambeth Palace