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Lord Tebbit event in Sudbury will still go ahead despite recent controversial comments

Lord Tebbit sparked outrage earlier this month with his comments that he will not attend services conducted by a gay dean.  Picture: ANDY ABBOTT

Lord Tebbit sparked outrage earlier this month with his comments that he will not attend services conducted by a gay dean. Picture: ANDY ABBOTT

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Organisers of a scheduled event in Sudbury featuring Norman Tebbit say it will go ahead despite recent controversial comments made by the former Tory chairman.

The Rev Canon Joe Hawes, right, who will become the new Dean of St Edmundsbury this summer pictured with the Rt Rev Martin Seeley, Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, left, and pupils from Cockfield primary school  Picture: KEITH MINDHAM PHOTOGRAPHYThe Rev Canon Joe Hawes, right, who will become the new Dean of St Edmundsbury this summer pictured with the Rt Rev Martin Seeley, Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, left, and pupils from Cockfield primary school Picture: KEITH MINDHAM PHOTOGRAPHY

Lord Tebbit, 87, sparked a backlash this month after saying he would boycott services at St Edmundsbury Cathedral, close to his home in Bury St Edmunds, which were conducted by a gay dean.

Rev Canon Joe Hawes, 52, who is in a civil partnership with Rev Chris Eyden, the vicar at All Saints’ in Putney, is set to be installed as dean at a service at the cathedral on Saturday, July 14.

Lord Tebbit told the EADT that he “disapproved” of the appointment but stressed that he would not cease his financial support to the cathedral.

Responding, Canon Hawes said he felt “absolutely no ill will” towards Lord Tebbit for his comments and that he still looked forward to meeting the former Tory peer and his wife in the future.

St Peter's on Sudbury's Market Hill. Picture: GREGG BROWNSt Peter's on Sudbury's Market Hill. Picture: GREGG BROWN

The former secretary of state is due to appear at St Peter’s in Sudbury on Saturday, June 2, at an event hosted by Andrew Phillips.

All proceeds from the event will go towards a fundraising campaign to regenerate the popular town centre venue.

Organising committee the Friends of St Peter’s say their official stance is that, while members may have their own opinions, it has no opinion on the views of anyone invited – provided they are not against the law.

The committee added that it upholds the principle of free speech and that Andrew Phillips does intend to question Lord Tebbit about his views, with an opportunity for audience members to ask questions.

Oliver Forder, chairman of Friends of St Peter’s, said: “We know that Lord Tebbit’s recent comments about the appointment of the dean at St Edmundsbury Cathedral are controversial and that there have been calls on social media for the invitation to him to appear at St. Peter’s in conversation with Andrew Phillips to be withdrawn.

“However, we feel that it is vital to uphold the principle of free speech that lies at the heart of our liberal democracy.

“Lord Tebbit’s invitation has therefore been confirmed on the basis that there will be plenty of opportunities for those attending to question his views.

“We are looking forward to an interesting evening.”

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