AN MP has accused Church of England officials of insider trading, following a rush of bets on Justin Welby becoming Archbishop of Canterbury.

Labour MP Chris Bryant, a former Anglican priest, said the rush of money for the Bishop of Durham suggested “pretty shabby” behaviour and called for the behind-closed-doors process used to pick the new head of the worldwide Anglican Communion to be reformed.

“Then you would not have a situation where people knew about the appointment and do this kind of insider trading,” Mr Bryant said.

Loading article content

Several bookmakers stopped taking money on Bishop Welby succeeding Rowan Williams earlier this week, after a sudden run which suggested to some that figures within the Church used information they had heard about the outcome of the long-running Crown Nominations Commission process to place an informed bet.

Several people in South-West London with no previous history of gambling opened online accounts to back Bishop Welby.

A spokesman for Ladbrokes, which paid out to those backing the Bishop of Durham ahead of his official unveiling, said there was no evidence of anything to ring serious alarm bells.

Graham Sharpe, of William Hill, joked that “nothing is sacred”.