Archbishop of Canterbury quits in protest at treatment of Russell Brand

Dr Rowan Williams has resigned as Archbishop of Canterbury in protest at the ‘heavy-handed’ treatment of Russell Brand by the US police, Lambeth Palace has announced.

Dr Williams, 61, is said to have been ‘incensed’ by the comedian’s arrest for hurling an iPhone belonging to a photographer through a window. ‘God did not intend for us to treat one another in this way,’ he declared in a statement. ‘To judge another man, especially one as hilarious as the outrageous and, in his own way, deeply religious Russell Brand, for the simple act of casting out a so-called “smartphone” – and which of us has not wondered whether these items are, indeed, more demonic than technological? – grieves the heart of God. So I’m resigning on principle.’

The Archbishop denied that his decision had anything to do with the near-collapse of the Anglican communion amid divisions over sexuality, homosexuality, sexual morality, gay marriage, gay bishops, women bishops, gay women bishops or Coalition plans for NHS reform. ‘I am entirely happy with my record as leader of the Anglican church,’ Williams insisted. ‘Now let’s stop talking about all that and focus instead on this Russell Grant thing. Brand – I mean Brand. Whatever.’

Williams will be taking up a post spouting Theology at Cambridge University, while the Church’s governing Synod begins the search for a successor. The most likely candidate, Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu, admitted to ‘surprise’ at Dr Williams’s decision to quit. ‘I thought he was handling the Brand crisis quite well,’ Dr Sentamu told reporters. ‘After all, if there’s one thing we can handle in this Church, it’s people manhandling a beardy wacko who dresses oddly and says the most outrageous things. Although at least when we wonder what Jesus would do, we’re not thinking specifically of our granddaughters.’