A Church of England vicar sacked from his job, after swearing at a woman who falsely claimed she was having an affair with him, has won his case against his dismissal.
Rev Bill Bulloch from St James the Great, Leigh-on-Sea in Essex had faced a misconduct tribunal that ruled his behaviour towards the woman had been 'unbecoming' despite the false allegations. He was also criticised for failing to refer the woman to safeguarding officials.
Rev Bulloch will now face a rebuke, following an appeal at the Court of Arches of Canterbury (the court of appeal of the Archbishop of Canterbury), along with training courses over the next six months, including anger management and the safeguarding of vulnerable adults.
The appeal court heard that 35 letters supporting Rev Bulloch had been received, calling for his return.
The ecclesiastical court heard that the woman, who was referred to as "AB", developed a "pastoral relationship" with Rev Bulloch, his wife and family.
Mrs Bulloch said they received presents from AB that made them feel uncomfortable such as a "whole pig's head."
In 2016, AB claimed she was terminally ill, yet in January 2017 Mrs Bulloch saw AB walking normally when she was visiting the outpatients department of the local hospital.
Rev Bulloch confronted the woman about the incident. The court heard how she responded in a "hysterical" manner and Rev Bulloch said he could no longer be in contact with her.
AB went on to contact Rev Bulloch, in what was described as an "abusive and threatening" way, alleging he'd had sexual relations with her and that she was pregnant. She later claimed she'd had an abortion.
The woman also made secret recordings of telephone and face-to-face conversations with Rev Bulloch. In one conversation, Rev Bulloch was heard to swear 28 times.
The misconduct tribunal last year found that although Rev Bulloch had not had an affair with the woman he had "acted extremely naively" and that his work in the parish had been "fundamentally undermined" by his misconduct.