The Bishop of London has accused one of the priests under his jurisdiction of breaking his oath of canonical obedience.

The Right Reverend Richard Chartres said that Reverend Martin Dudley may have broken church guidelines barring the blessing of civil partnerships when he officiated at just such a service for two priests at St Bartholomew the Great in London last month.

“The real issue is whether you wilfully defied the discipline of the Church and broke your oath of canonical obedience to your Bishop,” he said.

“St Bartholomew’s is not a personal fiefdom.

“You serve there as an ordained minister of the Church of England, under the authority of the Canons and as someone who enjoys my licence.”

The Reverend Peter Cowell and the Reverend David Lord exchanged vows in a “blessing ceremony” at St Bartholomew the Great in the City of London in May.

Rev Lord, an Anglican priest based in New Zealand, has now resigned, saying he “felt it appropriate to lay down his clergy licence.”

A civil partnership ceremony cannot legally take place in a religious institution although it is legally permissible for a blessing ceremony to take place in one.

In this instance a full Church of England ceremony has taken place although technically gay clergy may only “marry” if they provide reassurance that they will abstain from sex.