Attitude to bankers was 'lynch mobbish' after financial crisis - Archbishop

Published 22 July 2013  |  
People walk past the Bank of England in London's City financial district, Monday, July 1, 2013

The Archbishop of Canterbury has admitted feeling uncomfortable with the attitude towards bankers after the financial crisis. 

The Most Reverend Justin Welby said he felt attacks on bankers had been "lynch mobbish".  

He was speaking to the Bishop of Liverpool about the crisis in a new BBC Radio 4 series, The Bishop and the Bankers.

Archbishop Welby worked in the oil industry for 11 years before feeling called to the priesthood.  

He was a member of the Banking Standards Commission, which last month recommended that bankers who engage in "reckless misconduct" should be jailed.  

However, hearing evidence as part of the Commission, he said he remembered thinking "'I'm not sure I would have been very different,' rather than thinking how bad they were".  

However, he maintained that the behaviour of some bankers had been unacceptable.

"Certainly one of the trends that has been very unfortunate, to put it mildly, is that in some financial services companies there was a clear policy of not telling the top people - they made sure they weren't told things - because then they could plead ignorance, and that's just unacceptable," he said.

"But this business of somehow saying that one individual bears the whole blame as opposed to simply the accountability - it feels lynch mobbish."

Archbishop Welby told the bishop how easy it was to be influenced by the values of the business world and that the Church helped to provide an ethical framework.

"What I remember is the sense that the culture and values of the financial world enveloped you and began to shape one into a new ethical shape," he said.

"You were aware that you were struggling with this and often rather frightened by what was going on."

The Church, he said, was "the mould that was shaping me correctly and strengthening me not to be reshaped by the culture I was working in".

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