TELEGRAPH columnist Charles Moore is apparently in trouble with the Church of England’s bishops for criticising the Church Commissioners’ decision to spend £100million on slavery reparations.

In May the House of Bishops met in York. The C of E press release reported: ‘The House heard an update on the work of the Racial Justice Unit and of the Church Commissioners on Project Spire and the Fund for Healing, Repair and Justice (the slavery reparations). The Bishops recognised the importance of the work being undertaken and a number reflected with sadness and disappointment on the harmful tone of some of the expressions of opposition to the work.’

Who could they possibly be fingering here? In his column on April 23, Moore wrote: ‘In January last year, the Church Commissions, who run the Church of England’s investments, published a report into one of their main predecessors, Queen Anne’s Bounty. The report said the Bounty had invested the rough equivalent of £440million today in the slave trade, via the South Sea Company, between 1720 and 1740 . . . In atonement, the Church Commissioners committed £100million to a nine-year programme of “impact investment, research and engagement”. This decision was not universally acclaimed by ordinary Anglicans. Parishes are getting poorer. Many felt that any sums available should be spent on Christian ministry today rather than righting wrongs committed 300 years ago.’ 

He then quoted research from Professor Richard Dale, a business historian of the 1720 ‘South Sea Bubble’ who has argued that the Church Commissioners have got their history wrong. What the Queen Anne’s Bounty fund profited from was not the trading arm of the South Sea Company but its annuities side.

Moore wrote: ‘So far no bishops have commented publicly on Professor Dale’s work. Until they do, a significant cloud hangs over the Church Commissioners’ report.’ The phrase was pointed. In 2018 Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said that about the reputation of George Bell, the former Bishop of Chichester posthumously accused of child abuse but then exonerated after an independent review.

In his column on March 19, Moore lambasted the Diocese of York’s advert for a racial justice officer, ‘a half-time post for which he/she will be paid £32,000 – more than double the annual rate of pay for a full-time vicar. Thrown in on top of the pension scheme are free parking in York, the benefits of a cycle to work scheme and eye-care vouchers’.

Moore had done his journalistic homework on the 2,500-word introduction and job description and boiled it down for readers: ‘First of all, the post will not be offered to a white person. The ad cannot state as much (such racial discrimination is against the law) but I think that is what the “person specification” means when it says that the successful candidate will have “a passion for racial justice and radical hospitality borne out of lived experience”.

Read it all in the Conservative Woman