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Thames Valley Police
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Thames Valley Police
UK News

Diocese forced to clarify details changed in harrowing BBC true-story churchwarden murder drama

by Sophie Drew

Following the dramatization of a gruesome murder, at the hands of a deputy churchwarden, the Diocese of Oxford has issued a statement clarifying key misconceptions and asking for prayers.

The story of Ben Field’s harrowing murder of Peter Farquhar, and fraud against Ann Moore-Martin, received extensive press coverage at the time.

In 2019, Field was sentenced at Oxford Crown Court, following a lengthy trial and difficult investigation, for the murder of the 69-year-old author.

He admitted to manipulating both Mr Farquhar and Miss Moore-Martin into a false relationship, in order to get them to name him in their wills.

Following the dramatization of the events, in a series that is still airing – titled The Sixth Commandment – the diocese has pledged to update the “facts and corrections” section of their website following each new episode, in order to clarify the truth behind details changed for the show.

So far, they have been forced to clarify that the killer was never considered for ordination training, and was not a trainee vicar.

They have also clarified his role – the show claims he was a “warden”, but instead, Field was a “deputy warden”, a role with no formal office in the Church of England, and with no real definition.

The diocese described the case as a “hugely difficult ordeal for all those affected”.

The statement said: “This was an extraordinary and unusual case. No one who came into contact with Ben Field was not manipulated by him.

“He made a pretence of being a committed Christian and gained the confidence of the people of Stowe Parish Church and then, to quote his own words, ‘I'm gonna become a vicar … just because I can outmanoeuvre the Church.’

“His arrest put an end to this pretence but we all need to be ever more vigilant of those who can be made vulnerable by the likes of Ben Field, simply because they are elderly or lonely.”

His conviction prompted a review into “lessons learned,” conducted by Dr Adi Cooper. They made 13 recommendations, including seven key themes for improving safeguarding within the church, such as monitoring volunteers.

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