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UK News

Justin Welby seeks to ban NDAs in wake of Panorama programme on racism in Church of England

by Chantalle Edmunds

The Archbishop of Canterbury has said he is "totally against NDA's" (non-disclosure agreements) following BBC Panorama's revelations they had been used to silence staff who had complained about racism in the church.

Speaking on Times Radio he said what was revealed in the programme called 'Is the Church Racist?' was "shaming and rightly shaming".

Together with the Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, the Archbishop has written to senior members of the Church, telling them confidentiality agreements are no longer to be used.

He added that he was "horrified" to hear incidents of racist abuse within the church and praised Dr Elizabeth Henry, the former race advisor to the Church of England, for being as "forthright" as she was.

On Panorama, broadcast on 19th April, Dr Henry, who retired after seven years in her job, recalled an incident involving a young black man:

"I felt frustrated by the lack of progress with issues of racism," she told Panorama. "A really shocking incident was a young black man who received a picture of a banana but that banana had his head superimposed upon it and underneath it said, 'Bananaman'.

"That is a deeply offensive and deeply racist image. He took it to HR [human resources department] and he did file a grievance - and the decision was that it was not racist. That person left and he received a very small compensation - however, he was forced to sign a non-disclosure agreement," she said.

On Thursday, the Church of England publishes the report of the Archbishops' Anti-Racism Taskforce which was commissioned last year by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to scrutinise previous reports and recommendations made to the Church of England over the last 36 years and establish what progress, if any, the Church has made on racial justice.

The report will make specific recommendations to the Church, with a timetable for action, designed to make the Church fairer and more diverse.

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