CLAIMS that St Albans Dean Jeffrey John could be on the verge of moving to Wales to take on the role of Bishop of Bangor have been condemned as speculation.

Reports in national newspapers that the clergyman, who celebrated a civil partnership ceremony with another priest two years ago, has been nominated for the Bangor post in North Wales were denied by St Albans Abbey spokesman Arun Kataria.

But if the rumour has any element of truth and Dr John proves to be the triumphant candidate, he will be Britain’s first openly gay diocesan bishop.

And according to reports, the Dean, who can speak Welsh, has the support of principal figures in the church in Wales.

District council leader Robert Donald, a clergyman himself, who spoke out against the controversial appointment of Dr John in 2004, said: “I wish him well, if he does get it, it would be a real advancement for him.

“I know that if it happens many in St Albans would be very sorry to lose him.”

It is thought Dr John is a favourite for the Bangor post as the Church in Wales is considered more liberal than in England.

And although it recently objected to a bid for women bishops, the Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, said he would be willing to appoint a homosexual clergyman in the role.

The Bangor post offers Dr John another chance of the Bishop’s mitre after a similar appointment in Reading in 2003 was stymied by the conservative opponents.

The election will be held in October at the cathedral in Bangor where more than 40 electors will formally nominate candidates. Dr John’s name will not be put forward until this time and nominations are confidential.