The Portal May 2018 - Page 11

THE P RTAL May 2018 Page 11 Anglican Our window into the News Church of England The Revd Paul Benfield L ast month I wrote about the review of the Crown Nominations Commission, which nominates diocesan bishops to the Prime Minister for appointment by the Queen. Three lay people are elected by the House of Laity of the General Synod to serve for five years as central members.. The last election for central members was held in the summer of 2017 and among those elected was Miss Jane Patterson from Sheffield. She is churchwarden of Christ Church, Fulwood in Sheffield, a prominent Evangelical church. She had already served a five-year term and courted controversy earlier in 2017 when she took part in the meetings of the Commission which nominated Bishop Philip North to the See of Sheffield. Some argued that as a central member she should have withdrawn when the Commission considered a vacancy in her own diocese, but the Independent Reviewer, Sir Philip Mawer, in his report into that nomination and the subsequent withdrawal of Bishop North, said “no criticism can be made of Miss Jane Patterson’s decision not to withdraw from the Sheffield CNC”. In August 2017 April Alexander, a member of the House of Laity from Southwark, lodged an appeal against the re-election of Miss Patterson asking that her election be declared invalid or that the election panel make an order removing her from the CNC. The appeal was heard by three members of the House of Laity, Julie Dziegiel (Oxford), Martin Kingston QC (Gloucester), and Geoffrey Tattersall QC (Manchester). It met in private on 26 th March to hear argument for and against Miss Patterson’s election. April Alexander argued that Miss Patterson had conflicts of interest which she did not declare in that she was a trustee of Christ Church Central, Sheffield and Christ Church, Walkley, Sheffield, both of which are church plants from her home church of Christ Church, Fulwood. Both church plants are within Anglican Mission in England (AmiE) which supports churches “both within and outside present Church of England structures” She argued that Miss Patterson “could attempt to influence the outcome [of the appointment of bishops] in ways that benefited CCC and CCW which were and continue to be in direct conflict with the principles of governance of the Church of England”. The panel, rejecting Mrs Alexander’s arguments, stated: “We are satisfied that the fact that Miss Patterson was a trustee of CCC and CCW had no bearing on her eligibility to stand for election to the CNC.” It found that “neither the Standing Orders nor the General Synod Members Code of Conduct required Miss Patterson to disclose any conflict of interest”; and that Charity Commission guidance on conflicts of interest, quoted by Mrs Alexander, was not applicable, “given that neither the General Synod nor the CNC is a charity”. It also rejected the suggestion that Miss Patterson’s membership of the CNC meant that she was “under a fiduciary duty to Her Majesty the Queen or the Prime Minister”. This is not the first time that questions have been asked about whether people should declare membership or trusteeship of other organisations when standing for election to bodies elected by General Synod or to General Synod itself. Attempts have been made in the past to impose rules requiring such interests to be declared, but these have been unsuccessful. This is partly because it is impossible to know what organisations electors would consider relevant. Whilst many people would regard membership of Forward in Faith or Reform to be relevant, where is the line to be drawn? One elector might consider that a candidate’s membership of the Countryside Alliance to be relevant because of that organisation’s supp ܝ܈[[˂\ZYۜY\Y[X\\وHX\\HH\H[][X]\HوH\x&\\ܝ܈Xܝ[ۋ][H[\XHۛ][YYHX\Y[[Y]\[HܘYX\HY[X\\و]\Hܙ[\][ۂHH[\XH][Z[ۙ\Z[\H[XY[\\X[