Claims that an early favourite to become the next Archbishop of Canterbury has been the victim of "naked racism" have been played down by the Church of England.
The Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu has been targeted by an "anonymous whispering" campaign by critics trying to besmirch his name, according to his former aide Rev Arun Arora.
He said there was a "stark contrast" between the portrayal of Ugandan born Dr Sentamu and the treatment of other bishops.
In an article in the Sunday Telegraph, Rev Arora said: "At its best, the besmirching of John Sentamu has revealed that strand of snobbery which views outsiders as lacking class, diplomacy or civility - in other words 'not one of us'.
"At worst, it has elicited the naked racism which still bubbles under the surface in our society, and which is exposed when a black man is in line to break the chains of history."
Dr Sentamu has spoken in the past about his experience of racism but stressed that any abuse came from outside the Church.
Considered an early favourite for the top job in the Church of England, speculation has shifted in recent weeks and many now expect the Bishop of Norwich, Graham Jones, to win.
However many Tory MPs are said to have lobbied David Cameron in favour of Dr. Sentamu, who is seen as a more traditionalist candidate.
A Church of England spokesman said: "The blog from Arun Arora quoted in the Sunday Telegraph story is a month old and has already been widely quoted in a range of publications.
"There is a comprehensive process for selecting the next Archbishop of Canterbury, details of which are available online, and involves an extensive consultation process."