AN ATHEIST has defended himself against claims his appointment as chaplain to a council mayor is "outrageous".

Fifty-nine-year-old Denis Cobell, of Ravensbourne Park, Catford, was the subject of an article in the Evening Standard, but he said the article bent the truth.

Mr Cobell is a member of the Humanist Society and was appointed by Lewisham Mayor and fellow humanist Councillor Mark Nottingham as his personal spiritual adviser when he was selected back in May.

Mr Cobell said: "As far as I am aware, there have been no complaints about me before now. The article said my appointment was sending out the wrong signals, but I would hope it is sending out good signals. Humanism is not a religion but it does offer a different way of looking at the world."

The mayor released a statement hitting out at the report, making clear that he was always talking to representatives of all faiths.

"This is an appointment made by the mayor, not by the council, and I did feel I would leave myself open to the charge of hypocrisy if I made a religious appointment."

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