Crown Nominations Commission leak designed to sabotage the appointment of someone because they are gay

The Dean of St Albans, the Very Reverend Jeffrey John, has written a letter to the Guardian about the leak from the Crown Nominations Commission (CNC) in July 2010 that Jeffrey was a shortlisted candidate for the See of Southwark. The leak was clearly designed to sabotage the possibility of Jeffrey being appointed. There is a suspicion that the same person also acted to ensure that Jeffrey was not appointed to Salisbury. Plus, Jeffrey’s name was being put forward when Bishop Nicholas Holtam (who was appointed to Salisbury), announced his intention to appoint a new bishop of Ramsbury.

The archbishop of Canterbury set up an inquiry into the leak under Baroness Fritchie, a cross bench peer. Jeffrey says this inquiry was never published, and was said to have been unable to reach a conclusion.

Jeffrey writes that before the Crown Nominations Commission meets to nominate the next archbishop of Canterbury it would be good to know that steps are being taken to identify the real culprit and ensure that he will not be involved in nominating the new archbishop or in any further appointments.

Jeffrey’s letter follows hard on the heels of last week’s concern about Glynn Harrison’s membership of the CNC because of his belief some gay people can be counseled to suppress or possibly change their sexual orientation. In a statement last week Harrison, said he did not believe in a “gay cure” and had never offered formal counselling or therapy. However, his involvement with True Freedom Trust and other groups arguing that to conform with Church teaching people should repress their sexual identity belies Harrison’s denial.

Yesterday a Church of England spokesman (would that be William Fittall, the Secretary General?) said the report was never intended to be made public and was “a private document for the archbishop and CNC members”. The spokesman added that there were no plans to start a fresh investigation into the 2010 leak. “In these sorts of situations anyone on a committee could theoretically have spoken to a third party who then passed it on. That means we are talking about potentially hundreds of people,” he said.

So, the Church House spokesman now admits that it’s easy for anyone to leak information from a CNC meeting which could be passed on to hundreds of people. The challenge for Baroness Fritchie in her investigation was to identify which person or persons from a very small pool of people in the case of Southwark, leaked Jeffrey’s name. That shouldn’t be so difficult, should it, Church House spokesman?

Changing Attitude’s suspicion is that the name of the CNC member who leaked Jefrrey’s name is known in Church House. It was also perfectly well known that Colin Slee who was ostracized following the leak was not the person.

There was a motive to the leak – to sabotage the appointment of a priest living in a faithful, stable, celibate gay relationship, in total conformity with Church policy. There is a limited pool of CNC members with such a motive, so Baroness Fritchie’s task wasn’t in reality that difficult. If someone on the committee might have spoken to a third party resulting in potentially hundreds of people knowing, then members of staff at Church House are likely to be among the knowing crowd. There may also be members of staff at Church House with a similar interest in sabotaging the appointment of a priest who is openly gay and living with his life partner.

Let me be clear about this. Changing Attitude believes there is a member of the Crown Nominations Commission and there are staff members at Church House who believe they are right to sabotage the appointment of someone because they are gay. The legal advice issued by William Fittall on 16 June 2011 (GS Misc 992)  was clearly framed specifically to block the appointment of Jeffrey John as a bishop. Readers might also like to review the paper addressing the legal advice written by Dr Rob Clucas from the University of Hull, a Changing Attitude trustee.


  1. Davis Mac-Iyalla says

    This crown nomination committee are depressing me with their dishonesty and leaking of confidentiality. Who knows how many of them have ties with Anglican Mainstream?

  2. Alan Birt says

    Leviticus ch18 v22 and ch20 v13 clearly indicate that the practice, as described in the Bible, is “an abomination”. Nothing further need be said !

    • says

      Dear Alan,

      But more does need to be said. You write as if Leviticus is clear and to be taken as authoritative about the way Christians should deal with homosexuality.

      Leviticus 20.13 in the Revised English Bible reads “If a man has intercourse with a man as with a woman, both commit an abomination. They must be put to death; their blood be on their own heads.”

      Why am I not being put to death by the Church if Leviticus is to be read literally?

    • Che says

      Quite, nothing further need be said on that: because we all know that Leviticus clearly indicates many things which no self-respecting Christian could follow, let alone preach!

      • says

        I totally agree with you Che, of course.

        But first I’d like to read a reply from Alan, and from everyone else who claims to uphold Leviticus 20.13 as the absolutely clear for all time word of God concerning homosexuality including the injunction that eveyone committing these acts should be put to death.

        Christians like Alan, who have a clarity and integrity in their reading of the Bible, in which every page word and sentence and verse and chapter is true and to be obeyed, must now carry through the injunction to kill me.

        If they don’t, the ground on which they stand crumbles, and the whole fundamentalist position crumbles, and I never need to listen to their ideas again.

  3. Alan Birt says

    Does anyone take Colin Coward seriously ?

    Secular law can, and often is, quite different from Biblical law. Surely even the theologically uneducated realise this. However, if one chooses to join a club, one should be willing to comply with the club rules.

  4. says

    Alan Birt,

    You don’t take me seriously?

    I haven’t joined a club if by club you mean the Church. I am an ordained priest in the Church of England which is a body of people committed to reveal to the world the love God has shown in the life and teaching of his Son Jesus Christ. I am a minister of the Gospel, not a member of a private club. I follow the calling of Jesus, not a set of rules.

  5. Alan Birt says

    I do note that Colin Coward takes himself seriously.

    To issue a challenge which he knows cannot be accepted under British law and then utilise the non-acceptance as “proof” that his hypothesis is correct is so childish that one wonders about the validity of any other concept he may espouse.

  6. Laurence C. says

    “Secular law can, and often is, quite different from Biblical law. ” Alan Birt

    Am I to understand, Mr. Birt, that were it not for the secular laws against murder, you would think it acceptable to kill Colin Coward, based on your reading of scripture?

    • Erika Baker says

      Mr Birt,
      the question was not what it says in the bible but whether you, personally, think it would be acceptable to kill Colin if secular law permitted it.

      • Alan Birt says

        Since it would be an illegeal act under secular law, the question posed is nonsense and so, in effect, is a non-question which cannot therefore be answered.

        • Erika Baker says

          Glad we got at least that far.
          As Colin pointed out, it is also illegal under Old Testament religious law.
          And in the New Testament we follow someone who commands us to love our neighbours and to love our enemies.
          You might try that – it’s astonishingly liberating not to be consumed by fear and hatred all the time.

          • Alan Birt says

            This ‘discussion’ is becoming similar to a Gestapo interrogation in Nazi Germany !

            I shall therefore withdraw and leave the other participants to indulge in their sinful behaviour as the heathens do.

  7. says

    Dear Alan,

    You conform to the abusive, bullying nature of conservative anti-gay evangelicals by calling me childish. I met the same behaviour from those who were interviewed with me on Sunday morning.

    There are two reasons why you are unable to carry out the letter of the law as set out in Leviticus 20.13.

    1. As you rightly pointy out, murder is against the law of the land.
    2. Murder is forbidden by the 6th commandment, Exodus 20.13.

    Exodus 20.13 makes it impossible for you to act on the command in Leviticus 20.13. The Bible is in conflict.

    In England the law of the land makes murder illegal, because we have decided that murdering people is a bad thing.

    We have also decided that homophobia is a bad thing, so the law protects LBB&T people from those prejudiced against us.

    The law is used to protect people when the Bible advocates prejudice against groups in society that we now, in more enlightened times, know are part of the glorious diversity of creation.

    • Alan Birt says

      This is just ‘a load of twaddle’ to avoid facing the fact that the Bible is quite specific about the matter referred to in my first posting.

      If Colin Coward insists on continuing to go around in ever-decreasing cirles, he will eventually disappear ( as the well-known saying explains).

      • Erika Baker says

        Mr Birt,
        that’s where you’re wrong.
        However self-righteous you feel about your beliefs, they are losing currency in society and in Christian circles.
        It won’t be Colin who’ll disappear. People like him will continue to flourish, however much other people might wear out their keyboards trying to stop them.

        Love will win out, Mr Birt, not legalism. God’s love and grace are stronger than all this small minded hate mongering.
        Thank God.

        • Alan Birt says

          “People like him will continue to flourish”

          ……… but people like him won’t flourish because their sterile but sinful actions do not produce the next generation ! It is a one-way street with no return.

          • Erika Baker says

            Only people who have babies flourish?
            Tell that to all the singles who never marry, to all those who are infertile, to those who adopt and foster other people’s children.
            Tell a Roman Catholic priest that his life is futile!

            You have a very strange definition of flourishing!

  8. Alan Birt says

    Several typos in my recent postings due to a faulty keyboard. I’ll go into town later today and buy a replacement.

      • Alan Birt says

        Thank you, ‘Laurence C.’; it would indeed be preferable as then I could claim a replacement keyboard under the service agreement.

        The trouble is that the fault is intermittent and I cannot reproduce it when I make a complaint. It is like the toothache which disappears on visiting the dentist or the intermittent fault in a car which never manifests itself at the garage ! Likewise the faulty washing-machine which always works perfectly when the mechanic calls to repair it.

        We are now off-topic but I thank ‘Laurence C.’, for his observation.

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