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Dr Sizer is cleared – Church Times; and a public call to @CCJUK to acknowledge the truth of the CPS findings May 4, 2012

Posted by Phil Groom in Watching and Waiting.
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SO READS THE HEADLINE in Ed Thornton’s report in today’s Church Times (News, p.8) of the debacle in which the Council of Christians and Jews, CCJ, made allegations of antisemitism and inciting racial hatred against the Revd Stephen Sizer.

Unfortunately the article is subscriber only content, but Google have kindly provided a teaser:

Church Times – Dr Sizer is cleared
www.churchtimes.co.uk/content.asp?id=128025
THE Crown Prosecution Service has decided that a cleric who was accused of posting anti-Semitic content online did not commit any criminal offence.

The article goes on to cite the statement issued by Surrey Police previously noted here, Crown Prosecution Service decision on @CCJUK v/s Stephen Sizer finds no offence committed:

Surrey detectives carried out a thorough and extensive review of the material in question and following liaison with the Crown Prosecution Service it has been determined that no criminal offences have been committed. The matter has now been closed and no further action is being taken.

Stephen posted the following response on his blog last week, The Ugly Truth Exposed:

My support for a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians, based on international law and recognised borders, achieved by peaceful and democratic means, has unfortunately left me open to what can only be described as an unbalanced and targeted campaign from certain quarters, a situation which is deeply regrettable.

I care passionately about the safety of the Jewish people. I repudiate racism, anti-Semitism as well as Islamophobia. I would not have posted a link to a website I knew to be anti-Semitic. Having consulted a number of Jewish friends, I now keep a small list of websites to avoid in future. I will be more careful about the origin of material I post on my blog and Facebook, and welcome opportunities for discussion with members of the Jewish community to move forwards in a spirit of mutual respect.

Sadly, however, CCJ appear to be unwilling to acknowledge the truth of the matter and have thus far only issued a brief acknowledgment that they have

received the advice of the Surrey Police, together with that of the appropriate legal authorities

with no indication of what that advice consists of.

As a member of CCJ I find this response from CCJ disappointing, to say the least, if not thoroughly disingenuous. I can see no reason why CCJ should hide the truth of the matter like this and I now call upon them to issue a full and honest statement, acknowledging the CPS findings.

The police have declared the matter closed. Stephen has said that he wishes to see a line drawn under the matter. I call upon CCJ to do likewise. To fail to do so is a thoroughly reprehensible  act of moral cowardice.

… and an apology to Stephen for the distress caused by an unnecessary investigation would not go amiss either.

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Comments»

1. Jeremy Moodey - May 4, 2012

I could not agree more Phil. Well done for posting this. I have posted below the full text of the Church Times article, as I have a subscription:

THE Crown Prosecution Service has decided that a cleric who was accused of posting anti-Semitic con­tent online did not commit any criminal offence. The Revd Dr Stephen Sizer, Vicar of Christ Church, Virginia Water, in Surrey, was investigated by Surrey Police after a complaint was made about an article he posted on his Facebook page (News, 16 March).

A statement issued by Surrey Police on Tuesday of last week said: “Surrey detectives carried out a thorough and extensive review of the material in question and following liaison with the Crown Prosecution Service it has been determined that no criminal offences have been committed. The matter has now been closed and no further action is being taken.”

Dr Sizer said last week that Surrey Police’s conclusion “will come as no surprise to those who know and work with me.”
He said: “My support for a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians, based on interna­tional law and recognised borders, achieved by peaceful and democratic means, has unfortunately left me open to what can only be described as an unbalanced and targeted cam­paign from certain quarters, a situa­tion which is deeply regrettable. . .

“Having consulted a number of Jewish friends, I now keep a small list of websites to avoid in future. I will be more careful about the origin of material I post on my blog and Facebook, and welcome opportuni­ties for discussion with members of the Jewish community to move forwards in a spirit of mutual respect.”

The Council of Christians and Jews, which alerted the Bishop of Guildford, the Rt Revd Christopher Hill, to the website, said in a state­ment that it had believed that it was for Guildford diocese and Surrey Police “to decide whether or not appropriate action should be taken. The Council of Christians and Jews has now received the advice of the Surrey Police, together with that of the appropriate legal authorities.”

A spokeswoman for the diocese of Guildford said: “Dr Sizer has always made clear that he denies racism and anti-Semitism and regrets any hurt that may have been caused by his drawing attention inadvertently to a website that contains offensive material.

“Dr Sizer hopes that this may now draw a line under the matter.”

2. soupyone - May 4, 2012

Well Phil,

Many people wanted a full apology too from Rev. Sizer, admitting that he had linked to racist material on three occasions.

But that didn’t happen.

Might I suggest we accept his apology and move on?

Lest you and his other supporters wish to drag this issue out, which probably is good publicity for Rev. Sizer but also reminds people of his foolishness?

Perhaps not the smartest of ideas, but it is your choice.

So why pick a fight with the CCJ? And an answer of “they started it” isn’t good enough.

Rev. Sizer wants to draw a line under the matter, might I suggest his supporters do the same?

Phil Groom - May 4, 2012

The folly is entirely CCJ’s. Stephen has acknowledged linking inadvisedly; not only that, but he removed the Ugly Truth link when he realised his error; then almost three months later CCJ chose to make an issue of it.

I am, as you well know, Soupy One — as I have stated publicly here and elsewhere — a member of CCJ: this is not a question of some outsider “picking a fight” with CCJ but of one of their own calling them to account.

I do not realistically expect them to apologise; but I do expect them to show integrity, and that, at present, is sadly lacking.

3. soupyone - May 4, 2012

Phil,

The Ugly Truth link was only one instance.

You forget linking to the antisemitic web site, Veterans Today

Or linking to the Palestine Telegraph, which pushed David Duke’s videos.

At least three occasions to my knowledge. I hardly need quote Lady Bracknell ?

Rev/ Sizer’s explanations for these mistakes were less than full or convincing, to his non-supporters.

Yet I am prepared to accept his apology on the understanding it doesn’t happen again, but you dragging this out can only succeed to increase misunderstanding and animosity

Even if you do coerce the CCJ to apologise (and frankly I don’t think they should) it won’t be a success.

In doing so, you will have succeeded in diminishing the goodwill which Rev. Sizar has for the moment. You will convey the message that you don’t think the issue of antisemitism (publishing links to antisemitic sites) is an important issue. Not sure that’s what you want to do.

If I were you I would draw a line under this, as Rev. Sizer suggests, unless you wish to put the boot in, which I can understand from people in politics, but I’d hope that those in the Church might think to behave differently.

It is your choice, but there may be unforeseen consequences, it is worth reflecting on this, again.

Phil Groom - May 4, 2012

Soupy One, please stop trying to make a mountain out of a molehill. I reiterate: I am a member of CCJ calling upon CCJ to show some integrity. End of.

4. soupyone - May 4, 2012

Phil,

On the contrary, I am *not* trying such a thing and it is insulting to suggest so.

You and other Rev. Sizer’s supporters have decided to push this line, whereas the good Reverend preferred to draw a line under the matter, which was sensible in my view.

Now you can’t complain if it gets raked over again as you deliberately chose to bring it up.

These are your actions, your choices, so you can’t complain about the consequences.

Phil Groom - May 5, 2012

Please don’t be hypocritical, Soupy One. You talk about drawing a line under the matter: that is precisely what I am calling upon CCJ to do. What they have done, however, as you well know, is left the matter hanging.

Rather than use this as an excuse to stir things up, which is what you appear to be doing, I urge you to join me in calling for that line to be drawn.

5. Soupy One - May 5, 2012

Phil,

“Please don’t be hypocritical, Soupy One”

Forgive me, but I find your attitude decidedly unhelpful.

I am not being hypocritical. I am happy to leave the matter alone if there is no recurrence of the linking to racist material.

“What they have done, however, as you well know, is left the matter hanging.”

I know no such thing. You make too many assumptions.

Please bear in mind, I do NOT the follow the goings-on of Christians or related organisations.

“Rather than use this as an excuse to stir things up, “

I seriously resent that accusation. It is YOU, as readers will see, who has started this matter.

Whereas I have urged you, several times, to drop the issues. It can only bring up bad feeling.

Again, I suggest you, and other Rev. Sizer supporters, reflect on this, deeply, and draw a line.

Phil Groom - May 5, 2012

One more time, Soupy One: if, as you say, you wish to see a line drawn under this matter, then join me in calling upon CCJ to do precisely that; and please do not attempt to deny what you know: you have followed my posts here and you have responded to my tweets in which I have referred specifically to CCJ’s latest statement, which is cited both in my post and in Jeremy’s comment above. If, as you claim, you “know no such thing” then that is a matter of wilful ignorance on your part.

6. Soupy One - May 5, 2012

Phil,

You are a member of the CCJ, you can do as you wish.

That if you truly, honestly, genuinely, wish a dialogue with those affected by antisemitism and racial attacks then poking the CCJ and its members with a stick is not the way to do it.

Phil Groom - May 6, 2012

Soupy One, you puzzle me. Exactly who is poking whom here? Both the police and Stephen Sizer have said they wish to see a line drawn under this matter; you have concurred; yet when I, as a member of CCJ, call upon CCJ to do likewise, you respond by accusing me of “dragging things out” and “pushing the line” then you regurgitate all the allegations which the CPS have examined and dismissed and you issue dire warnings of “consequences”.

That, my friend, is stirring; and if it is not hypocrisy, then what, exactly, is it?

Instead of using your stick to stir things up and beat Stephen over the head yet again with allegations that have been dealt with, I once again invite you to use it more constructively, to help draw a line under the matter by joining me in calling CCJ to do precisely that — if, that is, you truly, honestly, genuinely wish there to be a proper dialogue over these matters rather than endless repetitions of the same old accusations.

Thank you.

7. Soupy One - May 6, 2012

Phil,

It is plain that members of the CCJ had legitimate concerns as to why a member of the cloth would link, on several occasions, to racist material.

That is a legitimate concern.

Not to acknowledge that is a legitimate concern, is all a more worrying.

Phil, could you please tell me where Rev. Sizer apologised for his previous errors, in linking to racist material?

8. Rev. Sizer, Best Take Michelle Obama’s Advice « Soupy One - May 6, 2012

[...] have argued elsewhere that this is silly and counter-productive, but my impression is that Rev. Sizer and his fan club [...]

9. Council of Christians and Jews @CCJUK issues clarification of findings by Surrey Police « Phil's Boring Blog - May 6, 2012

[...] FURTHER TO MY POST ON FRIDAY, in which I called upon CCJ to acknowledge the findings of the Crown Prosecution Service in response to their allegations against Stephen Sizer, I was delighted to discover this afternoon that they have in fact done so, along with a scanned copy of the letter they received from the investigating officer: CCJ: Clarification From Surrey Police [...]

10. Rev. Sizer, Please, Please Don’t Play The Victim « Soupy One - June 26, 2012

[...] before he and his supporters drag out the most predictable, I should make it clear that I do not think that he is an antisemite, [...]


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