London: The senior St Paul`s Cathedral priest who welcomed anti-capitalist demonstrators to camp outside the London landmark resigned on Thursday, as the church considers taking legal action to evict the protesters.
Canon Chancellor Giles Fraser said "it is with great regret and sadness that I have handed in my notice at St Paul`s Cathedral."
The cathedral confirmed Fraser had stepped down, but did not give his reasons.
Dean of St Paul`s Graeme Knowles said officials were disappointed that Fraser "is not able to continue to his work ... during these challenging days”.
Protesters have been camped outside the building since October 15. When police tried to move them the next day, Fraser said the demonstrators were welcome to stay and asked police officers to move instead.
Days later, cathedral officials shut the building to the public, saying the campsite was a health and safety hazard. It was the first time the church had closed since World War II.
Cathedral officials, and the bishop of London, have since asked the demonstrators to leave, but they are refusing to go.
Knowles said on Wednesday the cathedral was considering all its options in response to the protest — including legal action.
But in a victory for the protesters, he said the cathedral hoped to reopen Friday following changes to the layout of tents used by the protesters.
Fraser, a high-profile and liberal Anglican clergyman, was appointed chancellor of the cathedral in 2009.
The role involves overseeing the work of the St Paul`s Institute, which "seeks to bring Christian ethics to bear on our understanding of finance and economics”.
The protest tent city lies close to London`s traditional financial centre, which is called the City.