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 566.

    In recent times I have come to have a lot of sympathy with the reasons for the protest, but these particular people may not be going about this the right way in closing a cathedral.

    There may be some benefit however in not restricting economic activity at a time like this, but continued public sympathy may not be guaranteed if churchmen lose their jobs over the protest.

  • rate this

    Comment number 565.

    We went to support the peacefull demonstrators in St Paul's, this weekend. We were among many visitors who stood and watched. Thanks to those who have courage to highlight the injustice in our own country. We do not need a service in St Pauls for us to remember the sacrifice of so many. We need our elected politicians to act fairly, justly and unselfishly to work together. Why is it so difficult?

  • rate this

    Comment number 564.

    memyselfandjohn "The OLSX protesters are there to highlight the greed of the banks and large corporations and the damage they’ve done"

    All well and good but will the protestors kindly say what they want ? Or do they just want to sit around all day mekaing the place look untidy. Amazing how many seem to have come from foreign climes . Maybe its a cheap holiday?

  • rate this

    Comment number 563.

    If the dean was really sorry to see the canon go, he could easily prove his weasel words were true by simply tearing up the resignation letter. i don't see any interference either from that consummate politician the Archbishop of Canterbury. Perhaps the canon should nail 95 theses on what is corrupt about the Church of England to the cathedral doors, like Martin Luther did with the catholic church

  • rate this

    Comment number 562.

    540 comments so far and counting... there because of our right to FREE SPEECH! Whatever our opinions, we are right to air them here, on the streets, FB or wherever, and for the very same reason, the Occupy London protest must not be quashed. We all have the right to be heard; unfortunately some issues have to take varying methods to achieve this

  • rate this

    Comment number 561.

    How ridiculous to say the protesters don't need a solution because they are just "against"
    Before anyone is critical of policies, they should clearly have an alternative. It is just nuts to say "I don't like that" and when challenged to say "don't know, just don't like it"
    Stop blaming the bankers, accept we are where we are and we need to pull together to get through this.

  • rate this

    Comment number 560.

    549.Clifford Dann
    3 Minutes ago
    There seems too be a lot of jumping to conclusions here, should we not wait
    Why let truth get in the way of a good story?

  • rate this

    Comment number 559.

    To 495 Trust me those of us that work for a living are well aware of the greedy banks and the damage they have done. How fortunate the protestors are to have the time and inclination to demonstrate. I have to work full time to feed my family.

  • rate this

    Comment number 558.

    Dear oh dear. Whilst the establishment, in all its guises, prostitutes itself to economic ends, we, the public are expected to be slaves to economics.....what a dreadful vision.

  • rate this

    Comment number 557.

    6 Minutes ago


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

    The best you've got is, "well, it shouldn't happen".

    Yes, but it did, and responsible people take that into account.
    Responsible peope don`t allow it to happen to begin with.

  • rate this

    Comment number 556.

    @514 ajpenno

    You've taken a small part of my post, and put it out of context.

    My point was that we protesters should not be expected to provide solutions - we are protesting AGAINST what we are unhappy with.

    The government should be finding the solutions. Even I cringed at saying they have a full complement of skills to do so - the point was that *they should have*.

  • Comment number 555.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 554.

    Perhaps Graeme Knowles should offer sanctuary to the protestors within St Pauls, rather than worrying about his money. It's not reflecting very well on the church, is it?

  • rate this

    Comment number 553.

    The church engages in no production. The only way such an organisation can survive is through contributions or theft. The church has therefore been a heavy supporter of various legalised forms of theft since its founding. It knows which side its bread is buttered and is worried about its various theft portfolios. I don’t think Christian principles even get a look in

  • rate this

    Comment number 552.

    It is such a shame he is going, of all the people of the establishment he was the only one who asked the question "what would Jesus do?" and came up with the right answer. The moneylenders and traders want to get back in the temple.

  • rate this

    Comment number 551.

    This is my Anglican Church, and I am totally ashamed that they've put money before social responsibilty. I think that St Pauls should be disassociated with the Angilcan Church and labelled as a "tourist attraction". Jesus shouldn't have to go into a Christian church to overturn the tables of the money traders.

  • rate this

    Comment number 550.

    How sad that St Paul's has lost the plot. The Anglican church seems truly "the Tory Party at prayer".

  • rate this

    Comment number 549.

    There seems too be a lot of jumping to conclusions here, should we not wait too see what happens and then comment, rather than making up what we think is going to happen

  • rate this

    Comment number 548.

    Normally its very clear what a protest is for and more importantly what they want to change by protesting. This protest seems consist of complaining about something without offering a solution. I wonder if the world would really be better if all banks and large corporations decided to stop work tomorrow...

  • rate this

    Comment number 547.

    Timboulton wrote 'These "protesters" are both selfish and arrogant. Who are they (the mostly young) to tell me what a mess is being made of politics?'

    Er. When I was younger I trusted my elders to get it right, and when they didn't, thought there may have been things I was unaware of. Now I'm old, and have run things myself, I am far more vehement in condemning those who make a mess of things.


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