TOLD by the Archbishops that the Green report "stands on its own
merits" after the spotlight turned on Prebendary the Lord Green's
record at HSBC, the clergy have been debating, although not on the
floor of the General Synod.
"It's rarely a good idea to try and stifle debate. What usually
happens is that people find other ways of surfacing their concerns,
such as through social media," said Canon Jane Charman, a Synod
member, on Tuesday. She is Director of Learning for Discipleship
and Ministry in Salisbury diocese.
"Although it hasn't happened on the floor of Synod yet, in fact
the Church is having quite a rich debate, and people are engaging
with the issues around church leadership in a really informed,
concerned, and creative way, and we are getting out the corporate
wisdom which is what debate is meant to achieve. I know those who
are responsible for implementing the Green proposals are listening,
but perhaps they could do with signalling that a bit more
The Bishop of Manchester, Dr David Walker, has criticised
social-media discussion of Lord Green. On Twitter last week, he
said that critics were "mostly playing the man, not the ball".
The Sub-Dean of Westminster, the Ven. Andrew Tremlett, wrote on
Facebook last Saturday in defence of the "important and timely"
report, and of Lord Green. He suggested that the principle of
"innocent until proven guilty" had given way to "guilt by
The Bishop of Leeds, the Rt Revd Nick Baines, wrote on his blog
during the Synod meeting: "The criticisms still don't address the
question of how we do then invest in ensuring that church leaders
in the future are better equipped to do what is expected of
On Tuesday, the Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, the Very Revd
Professor Martyn Percy, rebutted the charge that critics could not
offer alternatives. "In reality, there are quite a lot of
alternatives," he said. "Why don't they talk to people who know
what they are doing? No member of the Green-report group was
academically qualified to shape a curriculum, and identify and
purchase the right educational providers who might deliver training
to our senior leaders."
The Revd Amanda Fairclough, a Church Commissioner, contrasted
the preparation and publication of the Green report with the
approach taken by the First Church Estates Commissioner, Andreas
Whittam Smith, to the report on intergenerational equity: "It is
not a decision that strictly requires formal approval or even
debate at Synod," she said on Wednesday. "However, it is wise and
collaborative of the Church Commissioners to explain their
thinking, invite comment, and look for support, as Andreas did at
Synod last week. It seems the House of Bishops have lost a similar
opportunity with the Green report."
In a statement last Friday, apparently in response to a request
from the Financial Times, the Archbishops said that they
were "grateful to Lord Green for the contribution and expertise
that he has brought to the work of the group on leadership training
and formation. The leadership report stands on its own merits . . .
[it] was completed and submitted before the current media focus on
historic allegations against HSBC at the time Lord Green was either
CEO or Chairman.
"None of the reports suggest there is evidence that he
personally encouraged or orchestrated any scheme of tax evasion.
The Church of England's opposition to tax evasion or aggressive tax
management strategies remains firm. The reported actions of HSBC
Switzerland were wrong and there is obviously deep concern about
the issues revealed."
On Saturday, Lord Green resigned as chairman of the advisory
committee of the lobby group TheCityUK. The chairman of its board,
Sir Gerry Grimstone, said that Lord Green was "a man of great
personal integrity who has given huge service to his country and
the City. He doesn't want to damage the effectiveness of TheCityUK
in promoting good governance and doing the right thing, so has
decided to step aside from chairing our Advisory Council. This is
entirely his own decision."
General Synod digest