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Downham church cancels event featuring controversial MP

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Church leaders in Downham say they have cancelled an event which a controversial MP was due to appear at tomorrow.

Representatives of West Norfolk's Jewish community had voiced concerns about the meeting at the town's Methodist Church where Chris Williamson was billed to speak.

But, late last night, the church's minister, the Rev Maurice Stafford, said they had called it off.

Downham Market Methodist Church (1938442)
Downham Market Methodist Church (1938442)

He said: "I can confirm that Downham Market Methodist Church received a request for a political meeting on Saturday October 12th.

"This was accepted because at the time it was mentioned that Chris Williamson would speak, none of us had ever met Chris Williamson or knew anything about him.

"Since then our understanding has increased and after further consultation it has been decided to cancel the booking.

"Methodist Standing Orders prohibit us going ahead with political meetings where permission would have a “detrimental effect on the peace and unity of the church and its witness”.

"Further to that The Methodist Church is against racism in all its forms including Anti-Semitism."

Representatives of the area's Jewish community had described the planned event as "far from helpful", following an attack on a synagogue in Germany earlier this week in which two people were killed.

But organisers had defended Mr Williamson's record, claiming he had been badly treated by the Labour Party.

Yesterday, Mr Williamson failed in a High Court bid to overturn his suspension from the party, although Labour was deemed to have acted unlawfully by re-suspending him in June.

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