SPECULATION that the first woman bishop in the Church of England could be appointed to the vacant position of Bishop of Whitby, has been dismissed.

The post has been vacant since December 2012 when Father Philip North, who was to become the new bishop, withdrew from the role before he was installed.

He said at the time that his decision was made in the light of the appointment of women bishops, and has remained in his position as team rector of the Parish of Old St Pancras in London.

However, a spokesman for the Diocesan Office at York said that a new Bishop of Whitby was to be appointed in the near future, but it would not be a woman because the final detailed decision on women bishops would not be made by the General Synod of the Church of England until June or July.

That procedure would then have to go before Parliament for final legal approval.

Since the post of Bishop of Whitby was created in 1923, 10 clergy have held the post.

The bishop oversees the Archdeaconry of Cleveland and has alternative episcopal oversight in the Diocese of York as a whole for those parishes which do not in conscience accept the ordination of women as priests and bishops.