A retired teacher who was abused and murdered by a churchwarden was vulnerable to being exploited because he hid his homosexuality from the conservative church he attended, an independent investigation has found.
Field had duped Farquhar into a fake relationship with him, undergoing a “betrothal” ceremony before persuading the older man to change his will and lacing his food and drinks with alcohol and drugs.
Farquhar and Field “agreed to keep their relationship secret, which was understandable in the context of the attitudes of many of the Stowe church parishioners … In Stowe church, homosexuality and homosexual practice were generally perceived as deviant and wrong, so he could not be honest about his emotional relationship with Ben Field.”
The independent inquiry was conducted for the Diocese of Oxford which posted the report on its website Friday. The inquiry makes several recommendations including:
- Promote safeguarding prevention, especially awareness of the impact of social isolation and loneliness, recognising the need for intimacy, and challenging ageism and attitudes towards homosexuality, and promote this nationally within the Church of England.
- Within the Diocese, work on LGBTI+ inclusivity, should focus on raising awareness of the safeguarding risks for some older people and the Diocese should promote this nationally within the Church of England.
- Address any culture of ‘secrecy’ and promote an open culture in the context of duties to care and provision of community support for vulnerable adults so that safeguarding concerns can be expressed and addressed and promote this nationally within the Church of England.