Thursday, January 11, 2024

The CofE asked Paula Vennells to review its governance even after her role in the Horizon scandal became known

The Church of England was even more starstruck by Paula Vennells that I realised. A thread from Marcus Walker on Twitter reveals that she was appointed by the CofE to conduct a review of its own governance.

If I understand rightly, this was after she was first asked to conduct a review of a failed attempt by the Church to reach agreement on the need for church closures. Walker suggests that Lambeth Palace wanted more than a thousand of them.

Her review criticised the Church's existing governance arrangements, in essence because they were too collegiate and too democratic.

This, I suspect, was music to the ears of the former oil industry executive Justin Welby, who appointed her to head the governance review on the strength of it.

I hope I have understood all this correctly, but there is no doubt about the most startling fact here. Vennells was appointed to this role in after her report on the failed church closure attempt was presented to the church authorities in 2020.

As Walker writes in his Twitter thread:

So there we are. Even after the Post Office scandal was known and even after it was clear that Paula Vennells’ leadership had led to catastrophic abuse of her employees and gross miscarriages of justice she was hired to start the transformation of the CofE.

We must avoid making Vennells the sole villain in this story, just because she was the only Post Office chief executive to be portrayed in the television play. Adam Crozier held the role for longer and also appears to have been in charge when the organisation committed its worse abuses.

But I still find the Church's decision to appoint her extraordinary.

1 comment:

Laurence Cox said...

Not only this, but read what Giles Fraser has to say about her

Even in 2017 she was close to being appointed Bishop of London (the third most-important role in the CofE hierarchy) despite a lack of parish experience. You can see the hand of Justin Welby, who also came from a business background before his ordination, in this.