Coronavirus: Bishops get death threats over Cummings criticism

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Ripon Cathedral
Image caption,
The Bishop of Ripon is among those who criticised Dominic Cummings for travelling during lockdown

Senior bishops who criticised Dominic Cummings' lockdown travel say they have received death threats.

Bishops in Newcastle, Ripon and Liverpool are among those who have said they have received hate mail.

A number of church leaders criticised Mr Cummings' trip from London to Durham to self-isolate. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has supported his advisor.

Bishop of Worcester John Inge said he got a "delightful email" saying: "Stay out of politics or we'll kill you."

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He said he got the threatening email after calling Mr Johnson's defence of Mr Cummings "risible".

Dr Inge told the BBC he would be "praying" for the person who sent the threat.

"It's a sad situation when people feel that they need to send or can send a message of that sort to anyone," he said.

While he said he "wouldn't go so far as to call for [Cummings] to resign", he added: "I would like to see a little bit of contrition."

Helen-Ann Hartley, the bishop of Ripon, reported a similar threat, saying: "'Stay out of politics or it will be the death of you' was one of the emails I received today."

Bishop Hartley, who had earlier written about missing her father's birthday during the lockdown as he recovered from radiotherapy, said she was "following up" the hate email with police.

Image source, Church of England
Image caption,
Bishop of Ripon Helen-Ann Hartley said she had reported the death threat she received to police

Bishop of Newcastle Christine Hardman, who said she was "deeply troubled" by Mr Johnson's stance, said: "I too received such an email.

"I feel concern for the person who sent it and will hold him or her in prayer."

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Bishop of Newcastle Christine Hardman said she received hate mail after speaking out

Paul Bayes, the Bishop of Liverpool, said he too had received abuse, adding: "Public life in Britain today. Many of us have received this sort of message. It doesn't work."

The Church of England has declined to comment further.

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