VIDEO: Vicar and English Democrats candidate clash over Kettering hustings exclusion

The Rev Dominic Barrington and Derek Hilling at the Kettering hustings
The Rev Dominic Barrington and Derek Hilling at the Kettering hustings

A row has broken out between a vicar and an election candidate who was not invited to a hustings event.

The hustings took place at the Ss Peter and Paul Church in Kettering on Sunday, May 3.

During the session English Democrats candidate Derek Hilling, who had not been invited to participate, entered the church and began speaking.

The church priest, the Rev Dominic Barrington, immediately came over and asked Mr Hilling to leave, which he did after about 30 seconds.

Mr Hilling then complained to the Right Reverend Donald Allister, Bishop of Peterborough, saying: “The Rev Barrington organised a hustings for Kettering constituency at Ss Peter & Paul on Sunday, but asked only five of six candidates.

“This action of exclusion by him follows on from the 2010 General Election.

“Therefore on the basis of my treatment over two successive General Elections I decided to go to the hustings and simply stand up and say who I was and that I had been deliberated excluded.

“I did this before the start of the meeting as I thought that would be least disruptive to the event.

“As it was a public meeting I felt I was within my rights to simply stand up and announce there was another candidate at the General Election.

“I consider the action of Mr Barrington wholly unacceptable in a place of worship, and wholly unacceptable to someone who he has never met before.”

Mr Barrington responded by saying: “You may be under the misguided belief that a church building and its grounds are public property.

“Certainly your behaviour both last night and in 2010 would suggest that such is your thinking.

“However, church buildings and land are private property, and, an invitation to speak in church is at the gift of the incumbent – in the case of Ss Peter and Paul, Kettering, myself.

“The policy decision that I have taken about the two hustings events I have organised has been clear and unequivocal.

“Both at the last election and at this one, candidates from parties represented in Westminster have been invited to speak, and nobody else.

“Your attempt to disrupt the event was both inappropriate and unwelcome, and I have every right to ask people who behave in a disruptive manner to leave church property – a fact which I made quite clear to you in 2010.

“Had you not left the church when you did, the police would have been summoned – my senior churchwarden was already in the process of calling them when you withdrew from the building.

“The very considerable number of congratulatory comments I received after the event from both candidates and audience who had witnessed your unacceptable behaviour leaves me in no doubt whatsoever that the basis on which the hustings was convened was utterly appropriate, as were my actions in attempting to ask you to desist and leave the building.”