Rev Richard Coles: Police investigate hate mail after partner's death
The Reverend Richard Coles says a hate letter sent to him after the death of his partner is now being investigated by police.
The former Communards singer announced that his civil partner and fellow priest the Reverend David Coles had died earlier this week, following a long illness.
A letter, courageously unsigned, begins: “Dear Mr Coles, I can’t begin to tell you how happy I am to hear of the death of your partner…”
— Richard Coles (@RevRichardColes) December 19, 2019
Coles described the mail in a Twitter post, writing: “A letter, courageously unsigned, begins: ‘Dear Mr Coles, I can’t begin to tell you how happy I am to hear of the death of your partner…’.”
“It continues ‘I have been praying for your pain for a long time now…’.”
As well as the letter, Coles also said he has received messages from a small percentage of fellow Christians telling him his partner is “in hell” and he will “follow”.
The ex-Strictly Come Dancing contestant confirmed that officers are now investigating the messages, writing: “Police called this evening, sympathetic and professional, and my hateful correspondence is now evidence.”
He added: “Also Northamptonshire Police lit a candle in memory of Rev David Coles at their carol service tonight. There appears to be evidence of something in my eye.”
I’m very sorry to say that @RevDavidColes has died. He had been ill for a while. Thanks to the brilliant teams who looked after him at @KettGeneral. Funeral details to follow. “The Lord shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended”. pic.twitter.com/usvLDIBDv7
— Richard Coles (@RevRichardColes) December 17, 2019
The 57-year-old described the shock of being the target of trolls, as “like the Khmer Rouge suddenly popping up in a stream of condolence”.
In an earlier post from Coles, in which he shared a photo of them wearing clerical cassocks and collars, he thanked the “brilliant teams” at Kettering General Hospital for their care.
Along with the image, he shared a biblical quote from Isaiah 60:20: “The Lord shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended.”
Fans were quick to offer their sympathy, and Coles says strangers have contacted him to offer support.
He also says he is not letting the negative correspondence get him down: “The horrible letters: they don’t touch me.
“I am right now an expert in pain, the real kind, and these are paper darts among the incoming, and just leave me mildly curious about the state of mind of the writer.”
An image of a glass pot of green ink accompanied the post, in reference to the journalistic term “green ink brigade”, describing letters sent to news organisations expressing eccentric opinions.
He also warned followers that a fake crowdfunding page had been set up in his mother’s name.
Coles was formerly a member of Bronski Beat before forming The Communards with Jimmy Somerville in 1984.
He came to the Christian faith in the early 90s, studying theology before training as a priest in the Church of England. He was ordained in 2005.
On his official website, Coles says he met David two years later following a sermon, living together at their vicarage following their civil partnership, along with their pet dachshunds.
Coles has previously spoken openly about their celibacy, telling Christian Today: “Of course it has its challenges and sacrifices…
“We live in good standing with the teaching of the Church, but I wouldn’t wish that to imply that I saw that as a good and noble thing, because I don’t, but it is currently where we are.”