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.
“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.