Church of England bishops have supported a Christian counsellor who tried to 'cure' an undercover journalist who asked to be treated for his homosexuality.
Former archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey, Bishop of Chester the Rt Rev Peter Forster and Bishop of Lewes the Rt Rev Wallace Benn are among senior church figures who have signed a letter of support for the 60-year-old psychotherapist Lesley Pilkington.
Pilkington was found guilty of professional misconduct by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) over her treatment of gay reporter Patrick Strudwick.
The writer was investigating therapists who try to 'pray the gay away' using so-called reparative therapy and met Pilkington at a conference for people wishing to teach the controversial method.
Writing in The Guardian last year, he said: 'I asked her to make me straight. Her attempts to do so flout the advice of every major mental-health body in Britain.'
Pilkington has appealed the BACP's decision, arguing the hearing discriminated against her Christian faith.
The clerics' letter claims she was acting in her capacity as a Christian when she treated the journalist, reported the Press Association.
'We believe that people who seek, freely, to resolve unwanted same-sex attractions hold the moral right to receive professional assistance,' they said.
'Whether motivated by Christian conscience or other values, clients, not practitioners, have the prerogative to choose the yardstick by which to define themselves. Not everyone stakes their identity on sexual feelings.'