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Gays "should seek a cure" splash creates media storm

The reporter who broke a story quoting the Bishop of Chester’s views on homosexuals has found himself in the eye of a media storm.

Chester Chronicle chief reporter Dave Holmes penned the exclusive for Friday’s edition, quoting the Rt Rev Dr Peter Forster’s opinion that “some people who are primarily homosexual can re-orientate themselves”.

The comments, under the headline “Bishop tells gays to seek a cure”, provoked a complaint to police from a member of the public.

Following the complaint Dave had expected to be interviewed by officers on the matter himself – but police have since said that they will not be taking any action as public order legislation relates only to race and religion.

The media interest in the front page splash has seen Dave interviewed by all sections of the media, including national newspapers, Granada TV and Radio City.

He said: “When he said what he said I thought it was a juicy, controversial argument.

“I knew then that it would be in the intro.

“It didn’t shock me – that sort of view is more likely to come from the church and knowing the bishop over many years, I thought he might come out with a more traditional statement such as this.”

Dr Forster was one of nine Church of England bishops who wrote to the Archbishop of Canterbury condemning the appointment of openly gay Dr Jeffrey John as Bishop of Reading.

Dave said: “What has surprised me more is the interest the story has generated.

“I don’t think the bishop intended to provoke a big storm. There was no agenda where he needed to get this angle out.

“I hope he doesn’t feel any animosity to me over this. I certainly didn’t intend to embroil him in anything like this.”

The bishop was quoted as saying: “Some people who are primarily homosexual can re-orientate themselves. I would encourage them to consider that as an option, but I would not set myself up as a medical specialist on the subject – that’s in the area of psychiatric health.”

His views have been condemned as “scandalous” by the Lesbian and Gay Christian movement, whose spokesman said the remarks could inflame latent homophobia.

Society of Editors director Bob Satchwell said the Editors’ Code of Practice covered comments made against individuals.

He added: “It is unfortunately often the case that media reporting becomes the story, when all that the reporter is doing is reporting something that was said for public consumption.

“Given the current controversy in the Church of England it is really a service to the public and particularly members of the church that the media makes public the views of their bishop.”

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