Church of England denies reports that gay dean Jeffrey John, is set to become Bishop of Durham

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Leaders of the Church of England are to meet on Wednesday this week, to discuss potential candidates to become the new Bishop of Durham, and the openly gay Dean of St Albans has been tipped for the job.

The church denied that Dr Jeffrey John is set to take the position, dismissing the rumour as “pure speculation.”

Reports suggest that the Crown Nominations Commission, who will discuss the appointment of the new bishop, has drawn up an extensive list of candidates to replace Justin Welby, who was recently appointed as Archbishop of Canterbury.

Dr Jeffrey John, Britain’s most senior openly gay cleric, was rumoured for the job, but the diocese of the Anglican church denied that was the case.

A spokesman said: “The first meeting of the CNC is this coming Wednesday followed up with two others scheduled for June 6 and 7.

“While the dates of the meetings of the Crown Nomination Commission are announced, the discussions about individuals and the supporting documentation remain confidential.

“As such any suggestions of any names associated with it are pure speculation and we will not be further commented upon.

“Further announcements will be issued when the process has been fully concluded.”

Back in January 2012, Dr John threatened to sue the Church of England unless it promoted him to Bishop.

The Very Rev Jeffrey John has twice been overlooked to become a bishop due his sexuality. Dr John is in celibate civil partnership.

The 58-year-old, was forced to give up his appointment as Bishop of Reading in 2003 due to his sexuality and was blocked from the post Bishop of Southwark in 2010.

Speaking to the Public Bills Committee in February, to give evidence in favour of equal marriage, Dr John said he thought it would be “more Christian” to allow individual parishes to make up their own minds on equal marriage.