A blue plaque marking the birth place of Anglican Archbishop Trevor Huddleston has been unveiled amid controversy he admitted touching children in the 1970s.
The Archbishop was born Ernest Urban Trevor Huddleston on June 15, 1913, in what is now 44 Chaucer Road, Bedford.
He went on to become famous as the founder and leader of the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa.
However, in 1974, he was interviewed by police over four charges of gross indecency against boys at the Bishop’s House in Stepney, London, when he was Bishop.
The police report states that in each case, the allegation against the Bishop was “that he pulled a boy on to his lap and put his hand underneath his trousers and pants, and fondled his bottom on the bare skin”.
During his interview the Bishop “specifically admits the evidence of the prosecution witnesses to be true”.
The report also stated the Bishop strongly denied his actions were indecent and what he did “was purely a demonstration of his affection for the children”.
In his witness statement he said children were welcome at his house at any time and allowed them to stay the night. He added: “No indecency of any sort was intended. I would rather die than harm a child.”
The Director of Public Prosecutions concluded the evidence was not sufficient to warrant proceedings but suggested the police warn the Bishop his behaviour was “open to misinterpretation”.
Trevor Huddleston died in April, 1998. The blue plaque was unveiled on Monday (June 15) by his niece, Ann Parkinson.
The plaque was organised by Harpur Ward councillors Colleen Atkins and Louise King provided the money from their ward fund.
Councillor Atkins said: “This blue plaque will remind us of a remarkable man who did so much in the fight against apartheid in South Africa and I feel honoured to be associated with making it possible.”
In 2000 former president of South Africa Nelson Mandela visited Bedford to view the bust of the Archbishop which stands in Silver Street and pay his respects to his friend.