Defrocked Anglican priest loses court fight

A DEFROCKED Newcastle Anglican priest fighting for reinstatement has lost an attempt for a court order against the church.

John Gumbley was ordered to pay the church's costs after Newcastle District Court Judge Margaret Sidis ruled yesterday that there was insufficient material before the court to warrant ordering the church to provide documents to him.

The documents include a transcript of a professional standards board hearing in April last year at which Mr Gumbley was found to have breached sections of the Anglican code after a relationship with a woman parishioner who was also a diocese employee.

Mr Gumbley argued the transcript was needed before he could decide whether to take further legal action in the NSW Supreme Court for damages over his defrocking.

The court was told the documents also included private journals Mr Gumbley alleged were stolen from his computer.

Solicitor William Wade, for Newcastle Anglican Diocese, told the court the "stolen" reference was "an allegation, not a fact".

Solicitor Jacqui Walker, for Mr Gumbley, said the former priest and his legal advisers did not have sufficient information "to decide if the [professional standards] board acted improperly" in reaching the decision to defrock him.

Judge Sidis told the court she was "not going to allow this to be a fishing expedition".

She was "not satisfied there was any basis, whatsoever" for action against former Terrigal assistant priest the Reverend Craig Munnings or the woman who made the complaint about Mr Gumbley after their relationship ended.

Diocese professional standards director Michael Elliott said the decision was welcomed and that the diocese stood by its policies and procedures for addressing misconduct of clergy and church workers.

The Anglican Episcopal Standards Commission has dismissed a complaint by Mr Gumbley about Bishop Brian Farran’s handling of his case.

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