Thinking Anglicans

No requirement for CNC candidates to declare conflicts of interest

The Church Times reports: House of Laity panel upholds Synod member’s seat on Crown Nominations Commission

A REQUEST to invalidate the election of a member of the Crown Nominations Commission (CNC) has been rejected by an appeal panel, which has concluded that members are not required to declare conflicts of interest…

The full text of the decision of the panel can be found here.

At the time of writing, the final link in the Church Times report is broken, but it ought to be: Synod groupings rebut claims they are taking over the CNC

The O’Donovan report and related documents are linked in this report.

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Jo
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Jo

The gist of the appeal panel’s findings seems to be “yes, we know she was hiding a conflict of interest but there’s nothing in the rulebook to stop her doing that”. Perhaps it might be time to update the rulebook?

John Swanson
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John Swanson

Would anyone be able to give a view as to what fraction of the electors in General Synod were in fact aware of her conflict of interest through her involvement in AMIE?

Malcolm Dixon
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Malcolm Dixon

You are so right, Jo. It is scandalously inappropriate that someone, charged with the high responsibility of selecting our most senior leaders, should simultaneously be acting as a trustee of a schismatic church. If the existing law does not make provision to deal with this, then it is high time that the law was changed, preferably retroactively. This case has worrying similarities with the case, reported in an earlier thread on 25th February, of Dr Peter Sanlon in Tunbridge Wells, who is simultaneously acting as Vicar of a CofE parish, and as ‘Rector’ of a schismatic church within that parish,… Read more »

Anne
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Anne

Jo, I am sure you are right. Malcolm, exactly. The law needs to change. In my experience the institutional church does not understand ‘conflict of interest’. A recent discussion demonstrated that it was considered that a clergy spouse in a diocese where her husband ministers could be seen to be ‘independent’, with no conflict of interest. As far as General Synod goes, I think you may find that at least one other member is on the electoral roll of their geographical Anglican parish, but actually goes to, and is a part of, another schismatic parish. I wonder if the problem… Read more »

Wm "Bill'Paul
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Wm "Bill'Paul

Doesn’t “diversity” justify Miss Paterson’s inclusion? I would think, given how “diversity” is advanced as the justifying reason for so much else, it should count here, too.

Kate
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Kate

Bill, I agree with you so don’t think you are alone in your view.

Charles Read
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Charles Read

Diversity does not justify schism. Ask any Christian over the age of 1700.

Ian H
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Ian H

Most comment sounds like sour grapes and nothing to do with fairness. It didn’t go your way and you don’t like it?

Jayne Ozanne
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Jayne Ozanne

I suppose the way to see if this is ‘fair’ is to see how it would play both ways…I mean, I wonder how conservatives would feel if they elected someone who, say, they didn’t know was gay but who they thought was representing them?

Andrew Lightbown
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I don’t think this is just sour grapes. We all may wish for greater representation by people who theologise like us but, isn’t there a qualitative difference in electing someone who is deeply embedded in a group that ordains bishops; especially when the entire rationale seems to be that this groups interest in episcopal oversight cannot be met by the Church of England? So although the position may be legally defensible this doesn’t mean that it is also ethically sound.

RosalindR
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RosalindR

There is a difference (which this case is based on , as I read it ) between holding a variety of theological views and being part of the variety of views within the C of E when elected to a role such as CNC; and being part of the governance of a different, breakaway group which is based on being different from the C of E.

Janet Fife
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Janet Fife

Imagine if someone was elected to the board of Tesco, who had failed to declare that they were already on the board of Sainsburys. Or if someone campaigning to be elected a Labour MP had failed to declare their membership of the Conservative party.

This needs changing.

James Byron
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James Byron

A good sign that any organization’s on a terminal slide is when it lacks the confidence to defend even its continued existence. If it’s not a no-brainer that members of schismatic churches have no place making decisions about CoE policy or leadership, maybe the church’s decline really is irrevocable.

In that sense, this is the perfect candidate.

Ian H
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Ian H

Jane…”I suppose the way to see if this is ‘fair’ is to see how it would play both ways…I mean, I wonder how conservatives would feel if they elected someone who was gay…”

But she’s, as far as I’m aware, in total harmony with the CofEs current doctrine of marriage. Understandably, that doesn’t suit others….

Bernard Silverman
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Bernard Silverman

Are we being too legalistic here? Usual practice on all the non-church committees I serve on is to go out of your way to declare anything that might even possibly be a conflict of interest. Since Synod is the governing body of an organisation which hopes to work by consent, it is very odd for anyone to conceal things which would give a conflict or any appearance of a conflict of interest. Good practice, very difficult to codify legally, is always to think of everything that anyone might think was a conflict of interest and to declare it. The other… Read more »

Kate
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Kate

The disclosure aspect needs changing. Elections are only helpful if the electorate have reasonable knowledge of candidates.

But equally it is then for the electors to decide whether she has a conflict of interest. (I don’t think she has but would never vote for her.)

Janet Fife
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Janet Fife

Ian H, I think you have completely misunderstood Jayne’s point. She’s saying, in effect, ‘what if the position were reversed and it were the conservative lobby who had been deceived into thinking a candidate shared all their values, when he/she did not?’

David Lamming
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David Lamming

I agree with Ian H and the decision of the appeal panel. In my view, this challenge to Jane Patterson’s election was unmeritorious and it should have been possible for it to have been dismissed summarily without a hearing, but the relevant Synod standing order (SO 135) doesn’t at present provide for this and, as the panel noted in its decision (para 23), it “gives very little guidance as to how an appeal is to be conducted.” It doesn’t even require an appellant to state his or her grounds of appeal. Moreover, to expect Jane to have disclosed her connection… Read more »

James Byron
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James Byron

I don’t agree that this should be left to electors to decide: even if future elections didn’t raise all kindsa issues around minorities having disproportionate influence (CoE elections are by STV, so it’s not had for a determined group to get someone elected), democracy isn’t the be all and end all. Unless constrained by law, it’s nothing but crude majoritarianism.

As a matter of policy, no chuch should allow members of a rival organization the chance to get elected, anymore than political parties tolerate their members moonlighting with the opposition.

Jo
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Jo

I think James Byron has the right of it. I wouldn’t consider the election of a candidate in this situation to be legitimate even if the membership of schismatic groups had formed part of the statement. An appropriate model to reflect on might be SWP members attempting to join Labour.

Jeremy
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Jeremy

It is not too legalistic to expect that people in positions of high authority in the CofE—here, a bishop-choosing position, no less—should not at the same time be active in schismatic groups.
This is basic, fiduciary duty-of-loyalty stuff.
If church law currently raises no bar, then the law ought to be changed.

David Runcorn
Guest

But they do not see themselves the schismatics. They see themselves as standing firm and guarding the truth of the gospel in the CofE. In their thinking it is the rest of us who are doing the splitting off here.

Fr Andrew
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Fr Andrew

“But they do not see themselves the schismatics”

And all good Anglo-Catholics don’t think they’re schismatics from Rome, but you don’t find us getting invited to elect the next Pope.

Jeremy
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Jeremy

David Runcorn, that’s a theological point, not a legal one.

Legally, perhaps it might help if we used the phrase “separate, independent, and competing.”

The people who are charged with selecting new bishops for the Church of England should not, at the same time, be leading an organization that is separate, independent, and competing. This is black-letter corporate law. It should go without saying.

So to whatever extent this principle does not apply to the CNC, that should change right quick.

John Swanson
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John Swanson

No doubt the rules should be changed to prevent someone from a rival organisation appointing the leadership of the first organisation. In the meantime, I wonder what would happen if all the other members of CNC declared themselves unable to serve under these circumstances?

I’d still like to know (as would Bernard upthread) how widespread knowledge of this was at the time of the CNC election. I note that her Synod Election Address from 2015 appears to make no mention of it, so the same question could apply to that election.

Richard
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Richard

Ms Patterson’s trusteeship of Christ Church Central has been public knowledge since 2013, if not earlier. See, e.g., https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2013/22-february/news/uk/sheffield-diocese-s-total-surprise-at-kenyan-ordination

John Swanson
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John Swanson

Richard: not to belabour the point, but there’s a difference between something being in the public domain, and something being widely known. It’s not a central point, but I’m still interested in how many members of Synod were aware of her AMiE involvement but voted for her anyway, and how many voted for her not being aware.

Anyway, the point bears making once again that healthy organisations with healthy cultures don’t need rules about decarations of interest, because participants in those organsiations recognise the right thing to do and do it anyway.

Jeremy
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Jeremy

I echo John Swanson.
And his point about doing the right thing applies to voters as well as to candidates.

Malcolm Dixon
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Malcolm Dixon

David Lamming, I think that you are using your extensive synodical knowledge and experience to forensically analyse the ‘mote’ which is the substance of the appeal, whilst ignoring the ‘plank’ which is the underlying issue of whether it is appropriate for someone who is a trustee of a schismatic church to be a member of the body which selects the most senior leaders of our church. This is the distinction which Jo made in the first post on this thread. It may well be correct, as you suggest, that the appeal had to be rejected, given the law as it… Read more »