Thinking Anglicans

The role of the Secretary General

There has been recent discussion about the respective responsibilities of General Synod on the one hand, and Archbishops’ Council on the other. The Secretary General, General Synod and Archbishops’ Council clearly plays a key role in this. A document from 2015, when the most recent appointment to this post was made, has recently surfaced. This was used in the recruitment process that year and does not reflect any changes in the role since that time.

Secretary General job description

To give a little context, here are two press releases from around the same time:

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Martin Sewell
Martin Sewell
1 month ago

,Now that the Christmas period has passed, Synod members will need to revisit the Wilkinson Review which provides an excellent narrative of facts surrounding the sacking of the ISB. The Reviewer was precluded from attributing blame and was wise to stick strictly to the Terms of Reference provided by Church House. Nevertheless Ms Wilkinson has provided a narrative in which everything one needs to know about culpability is presented in plain sight. It is a lengthy document, and a digest of the salient points is being prepared to flag up the important points. This includes identifying the crucial decision points… Read more »

David Hawkins
David Hawkins
Reply to  Martin Sewell
1 month ago

Martin, I’m not sure I should comment but I feel I must and would welcome feedback. I’m not sure if I should comment because I am not a victim of sexual abuse and many might consider the emotional abuse I suffered very minor. Other people might just brush it off. But in both cases it damaged me severely and in the second case it brought suicidal thoughts and clinical depression. But in both cases people in authority saw I was suffering, appeared to be sympathetic but ultimately did nothing at all. In the second case I was promised that a… Read more »

Susanna ( no ‘h’)
Susanna ( no ‘h’)
Reply to  Martin Sewell
1 month ago

Martin,
Thank- you for revisiting this so promptly after Christmas.
Please could I ask for two points of clarification-
1) have there been any changes to the role of Secretary General since 2015 that anyone is aware of? How do they get recorded?
2) who is preparing the digest of salient points in the Wilkinson report? I am presuming( and hoping) this will not be left to the Usual Suspects in Church House .

Martin Sewell
Martin Sewell
Reply to  Susanna ( no ‘h’)
1 month ago

Susanna, my understanding is that the Job Description has not been changed since 2015, which, if this is correct, is very odd: how do you conduct an annual appraisal without checking that the Job Description is kept up to date? No doubt if this is mistaken we shall be told. The summary is being prepared by colleagues I trust. There is no way we would trust an official version after the bland press releases that routinely come out of the Church Establishment! If you can read the Wilkinson Review and not see how serious it is for Archbishops’ Council and… Read more »

Kate Keates
Kate Keates
Reply to  Martin Sewell
1 month ago

My “question” is whether the choice of appraiser(s?) has the potential to influence how the post holder prioritises things? For example, might an appraiser from central church bodies effectively encourage the post holder to prioritise the interests of those bodies over, for example, the interests of General Synod as a whole? I wonder if there is any way that General Synod could ensure their interests, and those of the wider church (the majority of whom are lay) are appropriately weighted when the performance of the post holder is assessed. As you say, the same could be said of safeguarding. If… Read more »

Realist
Realist
Reply to  Martin Sewell
1 month ago

I’m reminded of the script for the wonderful episode of ‘Yes, Prime Minister’ entitled ‘The Bishop’s Gambit’. In it, Sir Humphrey Appleby is being lined up to become the next Master of the fictitious Bailey College, Oxford, but the Dean of Chapel objects to his candidature on grounds he is ‘too clever by half’ and ‘smug’. The Bursar then utters the fabulous line ‘well, I’d be smug if I had a knighthood, £75,000 a year, an index-linked pension and politicians to take the blame for all my mistakes’. The Secretary General doesn’t have a knighthood (yet – though one may… Read more »

Susanna ( no ‘h’)
Susanna ( no ‘h’)
Reply to  Realist
1 month ago

That’s a wonderful episode! I shall go and watch it again.
However I think it paints a picture of a far more benign bureaucrat – I suggest people look at Richard Scorer’s post on X in October 2020 where he copied part of an article in Private Eye describing Nye as a ‘shadowy courtier’ and commented that despite the huge growth of the Safeguarding budget under his watch not a penny had yet reached victims in any form of redress

Realist
Realist
Reply to  Susanna ( no ‘h’)
1 month ago

I completely agree, Susanna. As I’m sure you’re aware, I have written some very ‘pointed’ remarks about Mr Nye myself on TA in the past. It’s the ‘Teflon’ unaccountability encapsulated in the Bursar’s comment about Sir Humphrey that struck the resonance with me – the whole appalling situation we have with the Secretary General that somebody whose responsibilities extend to formulating strategy and implementing it should seem to be utterly unaccountable for its outcomes and consequences.

David Lamming
David Lamming
Reply to  Martin Sewell
1 month ago

Extracts from the actual transcript (with a few insignificant differences) of the evidence given by Paula Vennells to the Business Innovation and Skills Select Committee on 3 February 2015 (nearly nine years ago!) are reproduced on pages 260-267 of Nick Wallis’s book The Great Post Office Scandal, published in October 2021. A YouTube video of the part of the hearing as seen in the ITV drama, immediately followed by the actual interrogation, is available to watch at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lRqhCYDDCKk. The ITV drama scene (in which the now discredited Nadhim Zahawi MP plays himself as the principal interrogator) is an edited version… Read more »

Doug Chaplin
1 month ago

Being a hopeless pedant, I’m just stunned by the orthographical irony of drawing up a role for a Principle Adviser (top of the main duties)!

Richard Barrett
Richard Barrett
Reply to  Doug Chaplin
1 month ago

I agree!

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