There were a number of questions raised at General Synod concerning two recent senior Church of England appointments. Earlier there had been two letters in the Church Times, first one about the appointment of the new Archbishops’ Secretary for Appointments, see here, and then a further letter (scroll down, from Mr John Brydon) concerning this, and also about the appointment of the new Third Church Estates Commissioner.
At Synod, four Questions were raised.
The Church Times reported in detail on all this: Archbishop quizzed about selection of Appointments Secretary. This article includes details of a supplementary question from Rebecca Chapman (see first letter above):
…She asked the Archbishop to confirm that “prior to appointing Mr Knott to this role, you were aware of the contents of the lawyer’s report sent to your office in April 2017, which explicitly lays out seven identified breaches of employment law perpetrated by Mr Stephen Knott when dealing with my return to work at Lambeth Palace following maternity leave, and whether or not you shared that information with the panel who approved Mr Knott for this role.”
After hearing Mrs Chapman’s question, the session’s chair, Debbie Buggs (London), said that it contained “imputation” and “shouldn’t be asked”. The Archbishop need not reply. This was later challenged by Jayne Ozanne (Oxford), to a “Hear, hear” and applause from the floor…
…The lawyer’s report, a private legal opinion prepared by a solicitor, Jane Stuart-Smith, has been seen by Church Times. It says: “Two days before Rebecca Chapman’s return to work she had no job, no office and there appeared to be no serious attempt to address the situation by her line managers. Rebecca Chapman made all the running and found a creative solution to a situation that was totally unacceptable.
“Lambeth Palace narrowly avoided a tribunal claim for sex discrimination, unfair dismissal and breach of the Part Time Workers regulations and breach of the Maternity and Paternity Leave Regulations. Fortunately, the situation was resolved because she took the initiative.”
It does not name Mr Knott and the Church Times understands that while his duties included the administration of HR duties, he was not responsible for decisions taken. On Wednesday, a spokesperson for Lambeth Palace said: “Rebecca Chapman was a valued employee who remained in post and later went on to leave her role at Lambeth Palace on good terms…
…Ms Stuart-Smith’s report was paid for by Mrs Chapman’s husband, who in a letter, also seen by the Church Times, informed the Archbishop that he would be providing a pot of £20,000 to enable access for staff at Lambeth Palace to legal employment advice and guidance if needed. Mrs Chapman confirmed on Tuesday that it had been used by staff.