St Paul's protest: Canon Chancellor Giles Fraser quits


Dr Fraser says he could not support any move by the church to use "violence"

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The Church of England should do nothing which could "lead to violence" against anti-capitalism protesters, the canon chancellor of St Paul's Cathedral has said after resigning from his post.

Dr Giles Fraser quit "with great regret and sadness", having been sympathetic to activists camping in the churchyard.

He told the BBC he hoped a solution between the two sides would be negotiated, rather than enforced.

The cathedral will reopen on Friday lunchtime after a week-long closure.

It shut on health and safety grounds because of the large number of tents outside.

A special service will be held to mark the reopening at 12:30 BST but its dome and galleries will stay shut "for the time being", a spokeswoman said.

'Not a simple issue'

Differences over the handling of the protest are thought to have prompted Dr Fraser's decision, the BBC's religious affairs correspondent Robert Pigott said.

Start Quote

There are all sorts of people who are being adversely affected by the camp and I would like the camp to move on too, because I think it does have an effect on small traders and ordinary people in the area”

End Quote Dr Giles Fraser Ex-Canon Chancellor of St Paul's Cathedral

Demonstrators, who are protesting against alleged corporate greed and inequality, have vowed to remain for several weeks.

The City of London Corporation's planning committee is due to hear legal advice on Friday and decide whether to take court action against the demonstrators.

Occupy London Stock Exchange (OLSX) said it had reorganised the camp to allow the cathedral's reopening, but said the issue of legal action was "a minefield" in terms of land ownership and the human rights.

Dr Fraser, who was a former vicar of Putney, had taken up the cathedral post, a Crown appointment, in 2009.

"This is not a simple issue and I don't think anybody is trying to claim moral high ground on this at all," he said.

"My colleagues who've acted differently to me are quite right in saying that they want to reopen the cathedral; they want the cathedral to get on with its life.

"And, if I can argue their side as well, the truth of the matter is there are all sorts of people who are being adversely affected by the camp and I would like the camp to move on too, because I think it does have an effect on small traders and ordinary people in the area.

"But what I'm not prepared to do is sanction the use of force in order to do that."

'Unique contribution'

After Dr Fraser's resignation, the Dean of St Paul's, the Right Reverend Graeme Knowles, said he was "sorry to see him go".

"Giles has brought a unique contribution to the life and ministry of St Paul's," he said.

The BBC has questioned 150 of the activists about their backgrounds and motives for protesting

"He has developed the work of the St Paul's Institute and has raised the profile of our work in the City.

"We are obviously disappointed that he is not able to continue to his work with Chapter during these challenging days.

"We will miss his humour and humanity and wish Giles and his family every good wish into the future."

Ronan McNern from OLSX said Dr Giles was a "man of principles" and activists were "very grateful for the respect and support" he had shown them by defending their right to protest.

"The fact that he has resigned shows a clear split within the cathedral."

Another spokesman for the group said if Dr Fraser wanted to join the camp they would provide him with a tent.

The protesters said they were still open for dialogue.

'Common sense prevails'

When the camp was first set up, Dr Fraser said he was happy for the demonstrators to stay and asked police to scale back their presence.

He has refused to sanction the use of force to remove them as pressure mounts on the cathedral to join in legal action against protesters, our correspondent said.

Demonstrators in their tents at the St Paul's protest camp Protesters have vowed to remain at the site in the City of London for several weeks

The Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Richard Chartres, who had also called on the protesters to go, said Dr Fraser was an "important voice in the Church" and should continue to be heard.

"I regret his resignation because his is a very important voice, and while obviously it's a matter between him, the dean, and the rest of the chapter, I've got a certain pastoral responsibility for Giles.

"I think his is a voice which really ought to be heard," Dr Chartres said.

"It would be a tragedy if it was silenced."

The cathedral claimed to be losing £20,000 a day since its closure.

The area around St Paul's Cathedral

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  • rate this

    Comment number 466.

    These "protesters" are both selfish and arrogant. Who are they (the mostly young) to tell me what a mess is being made of politics? I am old enough, and have seen enough of this before, to know that the protesters are doing no good and are rubbing a lot of people up the wrong way. Far more people are prepared to use the ballot box to protest than are prepared to inconvenience others to do so.

  • rate this

    Comment number 465.

    Astonished that a priest has resigned over this matter. The very issue that the church should support is surely about fairer distribution of wealth. Clearly the church has got its priorities very very wrong, shame on them, a comment by his another priest was 'sorry to see him go' it should have been we begged him to stay !

  • rate this

    Comment number 464.

    445. m0nty1975
    get rid of fractional reserve banking
    Totally unworkable and unnecessary. Imposing 100% would cripple every bank and make them totally unable to lend.

    "they can issue money & in doing sostop this inflation/deflation con"
    I don't know where you studied economics but printing money leads to inflation. Also central banks act more independently than governments.

  • rate this

    Comment number 463.

    So, the first "victory" for the protestors is the resignation of the bloke who helped them. When will they have the guts to force resignations among the bankers?

  • Comment number 462.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 461.

    It looks more like a purge to me! He was right about the things he said the first time, hes the last person there who should have to resign . I took the trouble to see and record for myself that closing the Cathedral was not needed ...

  • rate this

    Comment number 460.

    The problem for the 'Occupy' camps is that they don't even have that sort of clear individual enemy.
    Indeed. That's because they manage to keep themselves well hidden. A not unusual practice for those who hold the REAL power.

  • rate this

    Comment number 459.

    @434 The Gambler

    We have to agree to disagree on whether pensions and ISAs are tax avoidance or not, suffice it to say pensions and ISAs are tax compliant so long as all the published conditions for saving in that way are met and thus not tax avoidance.

  • rate this

    Comment number 458.

    Dr Giles Fraser, has resigned from his Crown appointment, at St.Pauls, or was he pushed? This now changes the debate entirely.

    The eyes of the world are closely watching the behaviour of the iconic St.Pauls as indictative of the wealthy Church of England and Christian values.

    If I were a protester, it would galvanise me to stay, if only in support of Giles Fraser. Indeed, Giles, stay in my home!

  • rate this

    Comment number 457.

    i really think this protest to highlight the greed of the few has also unconciously highlighted failings in the church.

  • rate this

    Comment number 456.

    Am I alone in being far from clear about what the protesters actually want?
    It would be really helpful to know exactly what the issues are and what they would realistically like to see.

  • rate this

    Comment number 455.

    I think the resignation of the cannon shows exactly who controls St Pauls and it’s not the Christians. Parliament could put up with Brian Haw irritating them for Years, but the moneylenders cannot take a peaceful protest for a week . I hope the cannon joins the protest, even for a while. It would actually show up the establishment for what they are-puppets of the moneylenders

  • rate this

    Comment number 454.


    My attitude is this: if you're going to sit around protesting and generally doing nothing all day, try reading a book on economics, or writing some proposals that don't fall down at the slightest scrutiny.

    If you can't answer the question of what to do about it, perhaps you realise the government's problem?

    Except they don't have the option of walking away like Fraser

  • rate this

    Comment number 453.

    #441 Ooh! You Londoners are a parochial lot really. If you took off your NIMBY ... get orff my land glasses, you would see this protest as one of over 900 throughout the world. Protests which in the UK at least have been a peaceful and restrained demonstration at the obscenity of corporate and government greed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 452.

    Well done Giles Fraser, we need to show support to the protesters, they represent an overdue attempt to recover control of our lives from the financial and political elites who are cheerily ensuring their well being at the expense of those who toil to provide the funds for bailouts and the political gravy trains here and in the EU parliament.

  • Comment number 451.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 450.

    So let's talk about the objectives of the worldwide protests:
    We want a society based on values, we want justice, we want to be ruled by honest and caring leaders, we want all of God's creation to be treated with respect, we want our children to be taught solidarity and love, we want equal opportunities, we want clean water, food, clothing, shelter and education for all on this planet.

  • rate this

    Comment number 449.

    What does 'as pressure mounts on the cathedral to join in legal action against them' mean?

    Pressure from who and why? I assume the journalist who wrote this article know but why not tell us? I have my suspicions but they are unsubstantiated so I do not want to accuse people without justification.

  • rate this

    Comment number 448.

    441. Douggielee
    Once the Cathedral has reopened the best thing to do with the protestors is ignore them like naughty children, they'll soon get bored and go away.

    _ _ _

    On the other hand they may well get more & more people like myself who before today had no intention of joining them but can now see that we must make a stand before it is too late and fight this corruption


  • rate this

    Comment number 447.

    Government's cower before the power of the financial markets and now the CofE genuflects to Mammon too.
    However when you consider the size of it's property and investment portfolios, you can see where it's interests would lie.


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