Trust falls over CofE safeguarding debacle

The Church of England's General Synod is meeting in York.The Church of England

Trust levels at General Synod have hit an all time low this morning with some feeling that the Archbishop of Canterbury may have misled Synod during the Questions on Friday evening.

With regard to the controversial decision to sack two of the three members of the Independent Safeguarding Board, Sam Margrave, a lay member from Coventry, asked Justin Welby, "As a statement of fact how did the two Archbishops vote on this matter at Archbishops' Council?"

There was a pause while the Archbishop of Canterbury asked for legal advice as to whether he could answer the question – but having been told the advice was to provide a written answer, having taken legal advice, the Archbishop joked with the Chair about the process and finally gave this answer:

"Both Archbishops wished to wait a bit."

The exchange can be viewed here.

However, the Church Times now reports that a spokesperson from Church House has revealed that the decision of the Archbishops' Council was both "unanimous" and "collective" – and that the Archbishops "supported" the decision.

"The Archbishops supported the unanimous decision to terminate the contracts of the Independent Safeguarding Board members," and that "the decisions of the Archbishops' Council, as with any board of trustees, are collective."

"The Archbishops, like the whole Council, would have liked more time and really wrestled with this question, but took the view that there was no choice in order to continue moving swiftly towards a new safeguarding scrutiny body that is fully independent of the Church."

Overnight, Margrave has called for a statement to be made in the next session and for there to be a legal investigation into this matter.

Synod is due to hear a report about the Independent Safeguarding Board from members of the Archbishops' Council this afternoon. This is likely to raise the temperature of what was already expected to be a heated debate.

Gavin Drake's motion calling for an independent report into safeguarding in the Church of England is due to be debated on Monday.

Susie Leafe is director of Anglican Futures, which supports orthodox Anglicans in the UK.