A row has broken out over an armistice service at Peterborough cathedral as a senior cleric has been accused of sabotaging a First World War Commonwealth ceremony.
Trustees at the Peterborough Cathedral Trust accused former acting Dean Tim Alban Jones of deliberately failing to promote the October 6 event, which has now been cancelled, because – it’s claimed – he did not approve of its military flavour.
Jimmy James, the secretary of the trust, said that Mr Alban Jones had pressured 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 and said the cost of running the event would not have been covered.
Mr James admitted that as of Friday less than 100 tickets had been sold, of the 750 that would be needed to fill the cathedral, but blamed Mr Alban Jones, now vice dean of the cathedral, for failing to promote it properly.
He said advertising for the event had been delayed by two months and that events had been scheduled for shortly before and after the evening, and promoted before the Trust’s event, which Mr James believed damaged ticket sales.
Mr James believes that Mr Jones persuaded the rest of the clergy that “we shouldn’t be celebrating the victory, we should just be commemorating the participation in the war” adding “I think 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, he said: “I’d get pretty close to that, yes, very close indeed.”
Prominent figures including the High Commissioners from Australia and Canada were slated to appear at the event, which was supposed to feature “military music from around the Commonwealth” and songs from the First World War.
Trustees said it would have raised £15,000 for the cathedral, which has been beset by financial problems in recent years.
A cashflow crisis in 2016 meant that the cathedral had to be bailed out with 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 current Dean Chris Dalliston took over.