A vicar is calling for two senior clergymen to resign after claiming he was bullied out of his job by his own parishioners.
The Rev Mark Sharpe said he was being forced into early retirement after having his car tyres slashed and his pet dog poisoned during a campaign of “intimidation” by his parishioners in the leafy Worcestershire village of Hanley Broadheath.
Mr Sharpe, his wife and four young children, have left the family rectory for rented accommodation just days before Christmas.
The Unite union, which is representing Mr Sharpe, has accused that the Bishop of Worcester, Rt Rev John Inge, and Rt Rev David Walker, the Suffragan Bishop of Dudley, of washing their hands of the affair in the village “like Pontius Pilate”.
Rachael Maskell, Unite national officer, said: “The fact that Mark and his family have been forced to leave their home during the so-called season of goodwill at the pinnacle of the Christian year is a disgrace.
“Unite would like the Archbishop of Canterbury to order an investigation into the events surrounding Mark and his family.”
Mr Sharpe moved to the parish in 2005 and claims he was “sent to Coventry” shortly afterwards when he claimed he exposed irregularities in administration and finance.
The 42-year-old vicar installed CCTV cameras around his home after a spate of attacks.
He has been off sick with stress since April 2006 and was hoping that Unite could negotiate a settlement agreement for him to leave.
But before a deal had been struck, announcements were made in the parish’s churches that he was leaving his post.
Mr Sharpe will now take the diocese to an employment tribunal, claiming that he should have been warned about the nature of the “toxic” parish.
He said: “The admin and financial problems were all eventually sorted out, but this seemed to spark a wave of resentment from the community which has culminated in my family and I living in a climate of fear in a supposedly rural idyll.
“There have been too many incidences of harassment over the last four years for them to be the odd coincidence.”
A diocesan spokesman said: “It would be wholly inappropriate to comment upon a case which is yet to be heard by the Employment Tribunal.
“Mark Sharpe’s allegations including that with regard to a culture of neglect and bullying or otherwise, are wholly denied.”