Quick Note: Archdruid Terry Dobney in Trouble

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  April 6, 2011 — 12 Comments

Religion News Service (RNS) reports that Terry Dobney, Archdruid of Avebury and Keeper of the Stones, has been accused of defrauding the government’s welfare system.

Terry Dobney: The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald

“The 62-year-old arch-Druid told Salisbury Crown Court that the money belonged to his mother and that he planned to use it to buy a new thatched roof for his home. Prosecutors, however, claim that Dobney routinely falsely signed documents to accumulate illegal welfare payments. Fraud has sharply increased in recent years in Britain’s extensive welfare system.”

It’s unclear which, if any, UK Druid group Dobney is a part of, though he did speak out in support of The Druid Network winning religious charity status. Dobney is also listed as an “associate” of the Council of British Druid Orders (CoBDO). So far no Druid leader or group has issued any statement on the charges against Dobney, and it’s been largely tabloid fodder in the UK. It’s unclear what the religious ramifications would be should he be found guilty of fraud. Would a new Archdruid of Avebury come forward? A new Keeper of the Stones named? Would it have no effect at all?

News coverage so far has been rather sparse, but I’ll try to follow up with some of my UK Druid contacts and see what their impressions are of this matter. Serious? Tempest in a teacup? Hopefully greater context will be forthcoming soon.

ADDENDUM: Dobney has been cleared of all charges.

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Jason Pitzl-Waters

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  • Kate Dennis

    It would be good to have more background and information before forming an opinion.

  • Carole Ballard

    He is a lovely guy and to be honest, we're being shafted so much by the Government, I hope he comes off good.

  • http://egregores.blogspot.com/ Apuleius

    According to this article, "Fraud has sharply increased in recent years in Britain’s extensive welfare system." Isn't it funny how "fraud" has increased just when Britain, and most of the rest of the world, has been experiencing a prolonged economic downturn?

    Also, in addition to the transparent right-wing welfare-cheat-baiting schtick, there is the fact that the only news outlets that have picked this story up, other than Beliefnet and the Wild Hunt, are those twin bastions of journalistic integrity, The Sun and The Daily Mail.

  • Zanna Russell

    I'm really hoping there's no truth to the accusations and this is just some gov't official with a bug up his butt. It would still suck, but it's more clear cut.

    It feels like we – the Pagan community and other minority religions – have to hold to a higher standard than our Christian neighbors. If one of us does something illegal or just plain naughty the religion thing is going to come up and that is the only thing the press or the courts will see. In addition, it smears everyone else with the taint who stands up and says "I am _blank_". If a perpetrator is at least nominally Christian, nothing is noted about religion when splattering the person's personal life and background all over the media.

    It's so not fair! (she says, in her best affronted teenager tone)

    • http://www.facebook.com/phaedra.bonewits Phaedra Bonewits

      Religious professionals, whether conventional or self-proclaimed, are held to a higher standard. The press loves to go after a preacher who misbehaves; Terry calling himself an Archdruid is just icing on the tabloid cake.

      • http://ianphanes.livejournal.com/ Ian Phanes

        Religious professionals, whether conventional or self-proclaimed, are held to a higher standard.

        Agreed. And we should be. If we are going to claim authority in religious matters, we need to be scrupulous in all our affairs.

  • chuck_cosimano

    Anyone foolish enough to try to hold the media to any "higher standard" will only succeed in being the next story.

  • Veracity

    I hope it's just a smear article, but I will wait for further information.

    Yes, it's funny how rare it is to see such an article with a tag that says, "And he's an Anglican!"

    But even funnier, I never see "And he's an atheist!" in one of these smear articles. Why is that? Does the right wing think that atheists are expected to cheat and therefore it's no big deal? {heavy on the sarcasm here}

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    The Beliefnet story is annoyingly vague on the nature of the alleged fraud.

  • A.C. Fisher Aldag

    The lesson of this story — at least here in the States — is to get co-signing privs as power of attorney BEFORE your elderly relative is no longer able to do their own decision making. This is gonna become more necessary as our Pagan population reaches maturity. Do YOU have the ability to manage your aging parents' Medicaid or pension, if you need to? You might even use this article to persuade recalcitant relatives, "Ma, you wouldn't want ME to go to jail for welfare fraud, wouldja?" Having just managed a nightmare of an estate, this is important for final decision making, too.

  • Chris

    I remember seeing him appear in the trailer for a druid documentary that has yet to be released.

  • http://blog.chasclifton.com Chas

    Thatched roofs are quite expensive these days—probably a five-figure job to pay for. What used to be poor people's roofing is now a sign of having means.