Politicians must follow the law, says Archbishop of Canterbury

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The senior clergyman waded into the row over claims of Covid rule breaches last Christmas in Downing Street, Whitehall andTory HQ in a BBC interview last night. He said: “Obviously, we must all obey the rules. We need to set an example.”

The churchman expressed his dismay at reports of a bash thrown by Tory aides at Conservative Campaign Headquarters last Christmas.

Shaun Bailey, the party’s candidate in this year’s London mayoral election, resigned from a role at the London Assembly following the publication of photos of the gathering.

The Archbishop, who was offering prayers and comfort to the dying at nearby St Thomas’s Hospital at the time of the party, said: “On a human level I’m just disappointed, really.

“I make so many mistakes myself, I’m not a big one for throwing stones.”

Speaking to the BBC’s Newscast podcast, the Archbishop urged people in public life to be more ready to apologise for their mistakes. 

He said: “Most people in most places, when someone puts their hand up and says ‑ ‘look, that was a stupid thing to do and I shouldn’t have done that’ ‑ even today there’s a level of forgiveness.

“Over the last few weeks, I’ve apologised for a couple of things that I got wrong.

“You just have to acknowledge where things have gone wrong.

“And I noticed the former mayoral candidate immediately stepped down.

“Well, that seems very honourable.”

Rev Welby contrasted the behaviour of some senior figures with that of the Queen. 

He said: “Isn’t it wonderful that we have such an extraordinary example at the top, of the Queen with her complete integrity in every possible way.”

He mentioned too that when he visited the Queen at Sandringham he had helped her with a jigsaw.

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