London Mayor's deputy says he is 'not Jesus Christ'

By staff writers
4 Jul 2008

Update: Since this story was written. Mr Lewis has resigned and further allegations have appeared.

Controversial new London Mayor Boris Johnson's deputy, a former Church of England minister, faces an enquiry into historic claims of inappropriate behaviour and financial misconduct.

Ray Lewis, who has responsibility for youth, faces multiple allegations relating to his time as a priest and as founder at an academy for young people. He described the allegations, which emerged yesterday and prompted an emergency Mayoral press conference as "rubbish and groundless" - declaring that while he was "not Jesus Christ" he was a man of honour.

Mr Johnson has placed a good deal of faith in Mr Lewis, who believes in a strong disciplinary regime for young people, and has said that he will help London tackle an"epidemic" of youth crime in the capital, including lawlessness among younger members of the Black community.

Others concerned with youth offending and issues facing minority communities have criticised his "harsh" methods.

More information on the investigations will be issued today, Friday 4 July 2008. The Mayor of London's office confirmed the accusations related to alleged inappropriate behaviour with a parishioner in the late 1990s and while at the Eastside Young Leaders Academy, which is a youth scheme founded by Mr Lewis in east London in 2003.

"I have never harassed anyone and I have never defrauded anyone", Ray Lewis claimed yesterday on the BBC.

Separate claims of financial irregularity centre on money entrusted to the deputy mayor while he was an acting minister.

In one case, the allegation centres around a sum of between £25,000 and £29,000 entrusted to Mr Lewis by a female congregant in the Parish of St Matthew, West Ham in the Diocese of Chelmsford. She was someone with learning difficulties, it is understood.

"Between 1999 and 2005, [Mr Lewis] was placed under the formal disciplinary structures of the Church of England, and his ministry was restricted," said the Rt Rev John Gladwin, Anglican Bishop of Chelmsford, yesterday.

He added: "This was because a misdemeanour of such seriousness had been committed that in the opinion of the Archbishop, the person concerned should not exercise his ministry for the time being."

Bishop Gladwin is reported in the Telegraph to have supplied Channel 4 TV News with a dossier concerning recorded allegations against Mr Lewis. This was subsequently withdrawn after a threat of legal action.

At a press conference at City Hall, Mr Lewis claimed he was not aware he had been effectively removed from ordained ministry by being placed on the 'Lambeth List' of priests charged with or suspected of misconduct.

Mayor Boris Johnson commented: "I have every confidence in Ray Lewis and I think he is a tremendous deputy mayor and a great asset to London."

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