Welsh bishop issues apology for 'Never trust a Tory' tweet

Dr Joanna Penberthy made history when she was elected as the first woman bishop in Wales in 2016. Credit: Church in Wales

A Welsh bishop has apologised for a social media post in which she wrote: "Never, never, never trust a Tory".

Bishop of St Davids Dr Joanna Penberthy said she "deeply regretted" the Twitter post and has now shut her personal account down.

Dr Penberthy, 61, had previously shared views of a political nature from her account, which had more than 3,000 followers.

Her Twitter handle had also displayed the acronyms GTTO and FBPE - which stand for 'Get The Tories Out' and 'Follow Back Pro-European'.

In a statement, she said: "On March 25th 2021, I put out a private tweet about Conservative Party supporters which has caused offence, and for which I sincerely apologise.

"The tweet was in response to another tweet which claimed that the Conservative Party was planning to abolish the Senedd.

"I acknowledge that while there may be those within the Conservative Party who oppose Welsh devolution, it is not the policy of the Conservative Party to abolish the Senedd and I should have checked all the facts before tweeting.

"I, of course, trust and have trusted many Conservatives and know there are many honourable people in that party.

"I further apologise for other tweets I have posted which have caused upset and offence.

"While I hold strong political views, I have expressed them on Twitter in a way which was both irresponsible and disrespectful and I deeply regret this. I have now closed my account down."

Dr Penberthy at her 2017 consecration with Dr Barry Morgan, former Archbishop of Wales. Credit: Church in Wales

Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies said: "The many divisive and intolerant views pushed out from this very public account by the Bishop of St Davids will be troubling to many of her parishioners in West Wales.”

The Church in Wales said the bishop's "strong" political views are "well-known".

A spokeswoman said: "The Church in Wales expects all its clergy to engage robustly in public life.

"However, they need to do so in a way which is respectful, responsible and fair, acknowledging the breadth and diversity of political opinion within the church.

"We do not support intemperate claims or poorly-informed commentary and we urge all clergy to recognise that, as public office holders, there should be no expectation that personal views will be regarded as private."

Dr Penberthy, who was born in Swansea and grew up in Cardiff, was among the first women ordained as priests in Wales in 1997.

In 2016 she was elected as the 129th Bishop of St Davids, making her the first woman bishop in Wales.

Speaking at the time, she said: "I am immensely humbled and honoured at the trust that has been placed in me."

She was consecrated at Cardiff's Llandaff Cathedral in January 2017.

Read more: