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 486.

    If I was religious I'd be ashamed by my church considering financial gain over supporting a peaceful demonstration. These people are questioning the direction our society is going in, how can the church not support that because they're losing £20K/day?

  • rate this

    Comment number 485.


    465. Garry
    Astonished that a priest has resigned over this matter.


    Wake up and smell the coffee

    Canon Fraser was pushed - he opposed the church, and clearly the church has more of an invested interest in saving money than in saving souls


  • rate this

    Comment number 484.

    If this had been in France, they would have been removed long before now.

    Get real

  • rate this

    Comment number 483.

    16 Minutes ago


    "It is not the job of UK taxpayers to underwrite corporations due to bad business practices" - As long as you accept the loss of 100,000's of peoples' pensions, investments and jobs, ok.


    The onus is on business to run their businesses with propriety and honesty. It`s not for taxpayers to accept anything of the sort.

  • rate this

    Comment number 482.

    @360 The Gambler

    You've had plenty of answers showing the kind of change required.

    Expecting normal people to be armed with the kind of knowledge necessary to form full proposals is wonderfully unreasonable.

    Our government contains the full complement of skills for that very reason. I wouldn't ask Cameron to fix my engine, so let them do what they're there.

  • rate this

    Comment number 481.

    how many of these gutless wonders have actually spent the 2 minutes to walk down to the BoE and Exchange to protest? Havnt seen anyone outside yet. I take it theyre too busy lapping up the attention of like minded simpletons, or do they realise their cosy little "look at me!" demo will have a slightly rougher ride down where it should be?

  • rate this

    Comment number 480.

    "Protest St Paul's", "Occupy the Churchyard", call them what you will. If they had left when they were first asked too after their initial successful protest, St Paul's would still have a leading proponent of social change on its board. As it is the tent people who are only there for the short term have removed an ally from a much more important, long term and influential position.

  • rate this

    Comment number 479.

    . Those that created this mess should resign
    -That being the protestors who ultimately cost him his job?

  • rate this

    Comment number 478.

    Everyone BUT the Canon should have resigned.

    If anything puts people off Christianity it is this sort of stuff. Mamon before God.

  • rate this

    Comment number 477.

    "Rev Giles Fraser has been too supportive of these 'protestors' in my opinion."

    Allowing them to stay and not allowing the Police to beat them out of their camp. Not exactly going overboard is it?

  • Comment number 476.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 475.

    I support the occupy movement and so should the rest of of us. Afterall I bet most of us are worried or moaning about the countries situation and the world, but tend to do absolutely nothing about it. It also says a lot about our society that a man of the cloth has to resign because he was open in supporting Occupy London. Things need to change, even more so now in the light of this.

  • rate this

    Comment number 474.

    Another nail in democracy as Capitalism grips further, the outcome to all these greed fuelled will be a dictatorship along the lines MP's keep insisting is still democracy. Those that created this mess should resign not Giles fraser who has become an innocent victim at the hands of capitalism. Wake up westminster and smell the coffee..

  • rate this

    Comment number 473.

    I am tired of hearing people saying that the protestors do not know what they want.

    Protest is an action against, not for.

    They know what they dont want and that is all a protestor needs to know. They do not need to have the answers, we pay politicians to do that apparently.

  • rate this

    Comment number 472.

    66. Nickw1.
    You are correct. Religion is the business of churches. The business of cathedrals is tourism.

  • rate this

    Comment number 471.

    tax on savings is another huge con. you get taxed on what you earn, that same money what you have already paid tax on from your income tax, is then taxed again because you are saving it instead of spending it (when you spend that money, u pay tax on what you buy) so you tell me, is the tax system fair? hell no. the tax system is only fair to the rich elite, it is by no means fair to the people

  • rate this

    Comment number 470.

    Those who state that the protestors shoud move on as they have made their point are wrong, as the government never seems to listen which they should, before the mood changes as they only seem to take notice when violence erupts, which has happened in other countries.

  • rate this

    Comment number 469.

    quite an original name of the top commenter Orielcysegr and strange that he has a Youtube channel with nothing christian on at all just stuff connected to a new age gallery

  • rate this

    Comment number 468.

    This is one of the reasons why I've lost respect for Christianity - a rare man who does what is in the teachings with regards to tolerance is forced out
    As for the "poor little churches losing money" they have over 5 billion pounds in assets. I'm sure they'll survive

  • rate this

    Comment number 467.

    Not surprised at the C of E stance. Greatly surprised that there is still someone within with the moral integrity to stand up for the beliefs they preach when tested. To quote Gandhi: "I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ."


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