York & North Yorkshire

York Minster bell-ringer sacking due to sex assault claim

York Minster
Image caption The Minster dismissed its 30 volunteer bell-ringers in October, citing "safeguarding issues"

York Minster's bell-ringing team was sacked due to a row over one of its members being accused of indecent assault, The Church of England has said.

The Minster dismissed its 30 volunteer bell-ringers in October, citing "safeguarding issues".

It said the bell-ringer concerned was deemed to pose an "ongoing risk" and could not be reinstated.

The ringing team was dismissed after refusing to accept the decision.

It also said efforts to recruit replacements from other areas had been thwarted by "intimidation".

'Remain silent'

The Chapter said it had taken action against the individual following a police investigation into allegations of indecent assault against young girls.

No charges were brought against the individual and an application for a Sexual Risk Order was refused by magistrates in December 2015.

However, following detailed risk assessment the Chapter said it "felt that the person presented an ongoing risk and that the potential severity of the risk meant that they could not be reinstated".

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Media captionYorkshire bell-ringers 'reject York Minster plea'

But, it said the decision was not accepted by the bell-ringers and as a result of their "reluctance to recognise the Minster's concerns" the team was disbanded.

'Internet intimidation'

The Chapter said its "strong preference had been to remain silent on these matters to protect the privacy of those affected" but that given ongoing interest it had felt it "necessary" to issue a statement.

It also said that it has struggled to recruit replacement bell ringers since the dismissal.

"Bell-ringing leaders from other parts of the county and country have been in contact to explore options for ringing in the next few days and months," it said.

"We have also been approached by individuals keen to help and who are supportive of the action Chapter has taken.

"However, we have learned that many of these kind people have been subjected to intimidation on social media and in the local press.

"At least one member of the clergy who has offered to help has been threatened with legal action."

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