One of the most senior figures in the Methodist Church in Britain has been banned from preaching after revelations of a "misogynistic and toxic attitude" to women.

Rev Graham Thompson, the former chairman of the East Anglian district, was handed the damning ban after an investigation into his behaviour.

Although the report, produced by the Church of England’s Independent Safeguarding Board, was supposed to be kept secret the judgement has been leaked.

And now the Methodist Church has revealed to this newspaper Rev Thompson has been banned from preaching for 12 months. 

At the time the investigation was launched a spokesman for the Methodist Church said it recognised “there are reported incidents of sexism and misogyny within our Church and properly listening and responding to those who have been abused still needs to improve”.  

The Safeguarding Committee also heard the church was “not seen as a safe place” by many women and senior figures showed a “failure to respond” to allegations of abusive or discriminatory behaviour. 

Thetford & Brandon Times: (Left to right) The former president of the Methodist Conference, the Revd Graham Thompson, and the Vice-President, Anthony Boateng, after their election, last year(Left to right) The former president of the Methodist Conference, the Revd Graham Thompson, and the Vice-President, Anthony Boateng, after their election, last year (Image: Methodist Church)

Rev Thompson’s ban is believed to focus on his management and handling of allegations made within the church. 

A Methodist Church spokesman said: "The investigation into the ex-president the Rev Graham Thompson has concluded. It was instigated after concerns were raised about Mr Thompson’s safeguarding leadership as chair of the district. 

"The Safeguarding Committee has concluded that Mr Thompson should not take part in any front-facing, preaching and/or pastoral roles within the Methodist Church for a period of at least 12 months, during which time he will undertake additional safeguarding training. 

"The Methodist Church is profoundly sorry for those who have been affected where good safeguarding practice has not been upheld in relation to both individuals and the wider church community. 

"The Methodist Church’s safeguarding responsibilities are at the core of our mission. We are determined to make our churches a place of safety for all and will continue to do all we can to support survivors, act when we receive disclosures and respond appropriately to allegations about the behaviour of individuals, however senior.” 

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Before becoming a Methodist minister, Mr Thompson worked as an accountant.  

He has served in a variety of circuits, urban and rural, both as presbyter and superintendent as well as serving on a variety of Methodist trusts, boards and Connexional committees.  

He also served as chair of the Plymouth and Exeter District, following the same role in the East Anglia District. 

The Conference’s vice president, Anthony Boateng, is also facing a separate and different investigation into his conduct. 

He is currently suspended while investigations are ongoing.

Mr Boateng is a preacher from the London District and denies any wrongdoing. 

There are currently 164,000 active members in 4,004 Methodist churches in Britain. 

John Wesley, who founded the Methodist Church when it split from the Church of England in the 18th century, was the first president of the Methodist Conference.  

Presidents, who are always ordained ministers, and vice-presidents, who are lay people or deacons, are elected to serve for a year, while the secretary of the conference serves for six years.