In response to an article in today's Daily Telegraph containing accusations relating to St Cuthbert's Church in Darlington, a spokesperson for the Diocese of Durham said:
“We robustly reject all the allegations being made by Matthew Firth, who resigned from his role at St Cuthbert’s in 2020, for which he has provided no evidence. At no time did he raise concerns locally or with senior clergy about the number of asylum seekers being baptised at the church, and produces no evidence of being bullied by local church members in relation to this matter. His claims of the church being a ‘conveyor belt’ of asylum seeker baptisms are nonsense. Since 2014, our records show that at St Cuthbert’s 13 adults and 2 infants who may have been asylum seekers were baptised, 7 of whom by Mr Firth himself. As Priest in Charge it was his responsibility to check the authenticity of candidates. If there was any sign of anything amiss, Mr Firth should have reported this and he did not. If he had raised any concerns with senior staff during his brief spell at St Cuthbert’s they would have been taken seriously and investigated. He did not.
“We are extremely proud to have St Cuthbert’s, which is now under excellent leadership, as one of our churches, and proud of the valuable work all our churches in Darlington do to ensure asylum seekers and refugees are welcomed. They work closely together to undertake this work with care and thought.”