What are the Times trying to say about noted Spectator fan and new Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby? They have delved into his past. It turns out to have been rather eventful; but they’ve left unexplained the connections between the many interesting dots in Welby’s life. The Thunderer exposé reveals that Welby and his wife ‘volunteered as a young couple to brave the secret police of communist Europe by smuggling Bibles’, adding, intriguingly:
‘The newlyweds were provided with a camper van by the Dutch-based East European Bible Mission for their trips to Czechoslovakia and Romania. Secret compartments and a false floor hid the biblical contraband. The Welbys were taught to memorise maps and code words so that they could meet underground Christians clandestinely. They were warned of the danger of informers and secret police trying to foil them. They were trained in techniques to resist interrogation in case they were caught’
Useful skills for anyone to have in any walk of life. Investigations Editor Dominic Kennedy goes on to dig around Welby’s later career, reported previously as in the oil industry:
‘He was recognised as “a brilliant junior guy in the finance department”, Jean-Luc Vermeulen, a former director of exploration and production at Elf, recalls. Elf was later shown to have been a front for the French Government to bribe African and European leaders. Mr Vermeulen said the young Briton knew nothing of the misbehaviour.’
The piece is illustrated by a picture of Welby and the current head of MI6 John Sawyers in Baghdad in 2003. It’s as if they are asking us to read between the lines.