Cover-up at St Paul's -- Clerics suppress report on bankers' greed to save church embarrassment

Paul Mobbs mobbsey at
Sun Oct 30 09:53:17 GMT 2011

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Exclusive: Cover-up at St Paul's -- Clerics suppress report on bankers' greed 
to save church embarrassment

Brian Brady, Jane Merrick, Independent on Sunday, 30th October 2011

A highly critical report into the moral standards of bankers has been 
suppressed by St Paul's Cathedral amid fears that it would inflame tensions 
over the Occupy London tent protest.

The report, based on a survey of 500 City workers who were asked whether they 
thought they were worth their lucrative salaries and bonuses, was due to be 
published last Thursday, the day that the Canon Chancellor of St Paul's, Giles 
Fraser, resigned in protest at the church's tough stance.

But publication of the report, by the St Paul's Institute, has been delayed in 
an apparent acknowledgement that it would leave the impression that the 
cathedral was on the side of the protesters.

The Independent on Sunday understands that the decision has upset a number of 
clergy, who hoped that the report would prove that the church was not detached 
from a financial crisis that had its heart yards from the cathedral itself. The 
decision will fuel the impression that the wider established church is 
attempting to stifle debate about the tent protest, as leading members of the 
Church of England, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, have failed to 
comment publicly about Occupy London.

A spokesman for St Paul's Cathedral said: "It has been decided to delay 
publishing this report until further notice as it wouldn't get the proper 
debate it deserves in light of the present circumstances."

The spokesman refused to comment what the report's findings were, but it is 
understood it raised profound concerns about the banking sector's willingness 
to accept responsibility for the financial crisis.

Such a critical analysis, coming from the institute which is described as part 
of St Paul's Cathedral's "wider mission", would be seen as highly inflammatory 
at a time when the church is going to the High Court to attempt to remove 200 
tents from its land.

The report was the most ambitious in a series of assessments on the banking 
industry commissioned by the institute, which was set up to provide "an 
informed Christian response to the most urgent ethical and spiritual issues of 
our times".

Dr Fraser, who resigned on Thursday over St Paul's hardline position against 
the protesters, is the director of the institute. He was unavailable for 
comment. It is understood that the decision to delay publication was taken by 
the Cathedral Chapter, but it did not play a part in Dr Fraser's resignation.

A spokesman for the Bishop of London said the diocese was not aware of the 
report, and there is no suggestion that anyone beyond St Paul's has been 
involved in delaying its publication. Yet the apparent cover-up is the latest 
damaging revelation in the saga which has dented the Church of England's PR 
image. At a time when few senior church people are willing to come off the 
fence about the St Paul's protest, there is a danger with the withholding of 
this report that the church will be seen to be actively suppressing the sort 
of debate that many of its critics favour.

The St Paul's Institute survey was due to be published on 27 October to mark 
the 25th anniversary of the "Big Bang", when the financial markets were 
deregulated in 1986.

The Rev Andrew Studdert-Kennedy, the Rector of Marlborough, who produced a 
series of reports on the financial industry during a sabbatical at the 
institute in the summer, said he had been asked to write a piece accompanying 
the launch of the survey results. He said last night: "I can see why they 
chose not to publish the report last week. It was going to get swallowed up by 
the other things that were happening. I watched it all with absolute dismay. 
The thing that really bothers me is when people say the church should be 
engaging in these issues, because that is precisely what the institute was set 
up to do. It has done an enormous amount of work."

Mr Studdert-Kennedy, who refused to comment directly on the survey findings, 
said he had been "astonished" by the attitudes some City workers displayed 
towards the financial crisis. He said: "I did speak to many people about 
morality. I was amazed by how many banking crises there had been and how 
sanguine people were about them. A number of people said 'this is just what 
happens – it's the nature of banking, it's the nature of capitalism'.

"It's one thing having a historical perspective, but I was astonished that 
people didn't try to learn a bit more. There is a recognition that there is 
something wrong, but a reluctance to admit that they are part of the problem. 
They can be good at criticism but not so good at self-reform. What we have got 
there is so much that is human nature, related to how they behave in groups." 
He conceded that the publicity surrounding the camp had been "awful".

He added: "There may have been a very good reason to close the doors, but the 
way it was going to be seen by the outside world was terrible. It looks as if 
the church has come down on one side of the argument and the protesters on the 

Yesterday, pressure mounted on the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, 
and leading Church of England bishops to speak out about the continuing battle 
over the Occupy London camp. Dr Williams wrote what is understood to be a 
"supportive" letter to Dr Fraser when the latter resigned, but has refused to 
comment publicly.

Besides the Bishop of London, Richard Chartres, only two others, the suffragan 
bishops of Buckingham, Alan Wilson, and of Sherborne, Graham Kings, have 
commented on the continuing crisis.

Over the past three days, The IoS asked 80 Anglican bishops to comment on the 
protest. Besides these three, 16 gave a direct no comment or insisted it was a 
matter for the London diocese; 18 were away or unavailable for comment, and 
the remainder failed to respond.

Dr Wilson has accused St Paul's of a "hysterical over-reaction" to the 

Dr Kings told the IoS that the "the PR could have been handled much better" 
over the saga, adding: "I do question stratospheric bonuses but I am not 
against capitalism itself."

- -- 


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nor are we for this party nor against the other but we are
for justice and mercy and truth and peace and true freedom,
that these may be exalted in our nation, and that goodness,
righteousness, meekness, temperance, peace and unity with
God, and with one another, that these things may abound."
(Edward Burrough, 1659 - from 'Quaker Faith and Practice')

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