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Northern Echo editor stands by controversial vicar

The editor of a north-east regional daily has stood by one of his columnists after he apologised for posting apparently homophobic remarks on his own blog.

The Rev Peter Mullen, Rector of St Michael’s, Cornhill, in the City of London, was criticised for saying gay men should have “sodomy” warnings on their bodies.

Northern Echo editor Peter Barron said he was pleased that his “most outspoken columnist” had issued a full apology.

Peter said in his blog: “I’ve always subscribed to the view that when you know you’ve got it wrong, the best thing to do is hold your hands up and say sorry.

“I was, therefore, pleased when the Reverend Peter Mullen, our most outspoken columnist, issued a “full and complete” apology.

“Peter insists it was a joke and that some of his best friends are homosexuals.

“I told him I didn’t think it was remotely funny, that I considered it to be poor judgement, and that it had placed me in a difficult position.

“The Northern Echo is a broad church, with columnists representing all shades of opinion.

“I do not always share Peter Mullen’s views but I regard him as a high quality, thought-provoking writer.

“His decision to remove the offending remarks from his website, and to issue an unreserved apology for causing offence, were essential steps if he were to continue writing for The Northern Echo.”

The reverend’s column in this week’s Northern Echo contained a further apology for his remarks.