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Press: Embarrassing gender pay gap in Church of England exposed by the Mail

30 November 2018

Nicky Hill Photography

The Revd Anna Eltringham officiates at a wedding

The Revd Anna Eltringham officiates at a wedding

THE Daily Mail does love catching the Archbishop of Canterbury when he wanders through the playground like Fotherington-Thomas, skipping and saying “Hello clouds! Hello sky! Goodbye unjust gender gap!” Last week’s ambush was efficiently brutal.

“Women working for the Church of England are paid on average over £10,000 a year less than men, the C of E acknowledged yesterday,” Steve Doughty wrote.

“It said that the average pay of a woman working in the Church’s managing institutions is £32,711 a year, compared to an average of £43,316 for men employed in the same offices.

“The figures, which include the pay of officials and staff working directly for the Archbishop of Canterbury at Lambeth Palace, show that the central organisations of the Church operate a gender pay gap of 24 per cent.

“Archbishop Justin Welby‘s targets have included the gender pay gap, which he has condemned as unjust.”

Normally, when gender imbalance in the Church is raised, the central bodies can point out that they not responsible for what happens out in the dioceses. In this instance, they were caught bang to rights. As the Mail points out, a gap of 24 per cent is nearly three times the national average of 8.6 per cent (although that figure is undoubtedly skewed in ways favourable to women because large numbers of companies failed to submit their figures.)

It is a shame that, in all the otherwise comprehensive coverage of this scandal, there was no room to mention the corresponding figure for the Daily Mail and General Trust: 19.8 per cent.

This is not outrageous by the standards of the media business. The Telegraph, The Economist, Channel 4, and The Financial Times are all worse than the Church of England, and all, no doubt, have policies upholding equality. But they are not nearly as much fun to denounce for hypocrisy.


THE Mail also had a fairly detailed story, possibly originating from the Home Office, about the case of Asia Bibi (News, 16 November): “Theresa May has been accused of refusing asylum to a Christian mother who is being hunted by lynch mobs in Pakistan.

“The fate of Asia Bibi has pitted Home Secretary Sajid Javid against the Prime Minister, with Mr Javid arguing passionately that she should be given refuge in the UK.

“But sources say that his plan was thwarted after Ms May was persuaded that letting Bibi claim asylum here would ‘stoke tensions’ among British Muslims.”

The Mail also had a grim report of an attempted lynching of Asia Bibi eight years ago, from Abul Taher, who had actually visited her village. It did refer to her throughout as “Mrs Bibi”, which I understand is rather like calling her “Mrs Auntie”, but it can’t have done her cause any harm.

In any case, the Pakistan Press Foundation has sent me a stirring press releases announcing that the fourth “Human Rights Through Cinematography Film Festival” will present 27 documentaries on human-rights issues in nine cities around the country. I would feel even more cheered by this if Asia Bibi were not still being hunted from house to house.


I FAILED last week to remark on Harriet Sherwood’s thorough treatment, in The Observer, of the case of the Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, Martyn Percy (News, 5 November). Although there is very little being said publicly, this is not going to go away. The college, which was used for filming parts of Harry Potter, now looks like Hogwarts when it was run by Professor Snape, although few expect the chief villain to be unmasked as a secret devotee of Dean Percy’s mother, who was working all along to save him.

The story is difficult to report because no one, but no one, will speak on the record, and Dean Percy himself will not talk to any journalist, even through intermediaries.

This means that the small print matters, and the small print in Harriet’s story repays attention. The Charity Commission, the University, and the diocese of Oxford are all quoted in ways which show that they support the Dean.

The University, which has no direct control over the college, described the Dean as “A widely respected member of the university”; a spokesman for the diocese said that there was no question of a Clergy Discipline Measure (CDM). If he had been accused of anything that the outside world would recognise as misbehaviour, the CDM would cover it. Apparently it does not.

It will be interesting to see what Private Eye makes of the story.


FINALLY, the Mail featured a remarkable piece of compression: Jeffrey Archer — who was once described by his wife as having “a gift for inaccurate précis” — has summarised the New Testament in 346 words, for charity.

Naturally, I have not read them: life’s too short. But the story itself is a treasure house of journalese. “As its title The Son Of God suggests, [the story] still manages to have a plot as intriguing as any of his bestsellers — and a subject arguably more profound than anything he has ever tackled before.”

Not Milton, not Shakespeare, not even Alan Partridge himself could have improved on that “arguably”.

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