ASA and Lord Smith's (shifting) declarations of interests
His Grace's ASA saga is covered on the top of p3 of this week's Church of England Newspaper. They refer to his 'withering response to the ASA’s demand for a reply' (which they 'later modified to a request for a voluntary response'). In light of this, His Grace's demand remains that the Lord Smith of Finsbury should resign either as Chairman of the Advertising Standards Authority or as Vice President of the Campaign for Homosexual Equality. He cannot do both - not if the ASA seeks to harass and bully those who carry perfectly innocuous advertisements promoting the traditional view of marriage, and entertain that such advertisements might be 'offensive and homophobic'.
The ASA have kindly acknowledged His Grace lengthy contribution to their investigation, which they summarised thus:
‘Archbishop Cranmer’ did not believe that ad (c) would be seen as offensive or homophobic. He pointed out that it merely featured pictures of photos of couples on their wedding day and a quotation from the marriage liturgy, and did not believe any rational or reasonable person would find this offensive.And he has been given until 10.00am on 30th May to send them any comments on the factual accuracy of this.
Meantime, His Grace made a formal request to the House of Lords to determine why Lord Smith should need to declare some of his voluntary unremunerated positions in the Register of Members' Interests, but not others. As at 21st May, he listed his interests as follows:
Category 1: Directorships
Non-executive Board Member, PPL (Phonographic Performance Ltd: Music Performers' Rights Collecting Society) Non-executive Director, Zamyn (international cultural organisation; not-for-profit company, limited by guarantee)
Category 2: Remunerated employment, office, profession etc.
Chairman, Environment Agency Chairman, Advertising Standards Authority Joint author of book "Suicide of the West"; royalties
Category 5: Land and property
Residential property in North-west Scotland, owned jointly with partner
Category 7: Overseas visits
Visit to Los Angeles, 5-11 January 2012; costs of travel and accommodation met by the Getty Leadership Institute
Category 10: Non-financial interests (c)
Chairman, Wordsworth Trust Chairman, Donmar Warehouse Theatre Member, Advisory Council, London Symphony Orchestra Member, Strategy Board, Clore Leadership Programme
Category 10: Non-financial interests (d)
Vice President, Christian Socialist MovementWe are concerned only with his Category 10 (unremunerated) declarations, which may be broken down as follows:
Category 10a Un-renumerated directorship or employment
Category 10b Membership of public bodies, (hospital trusts, governing bodies etc)
Category 10c Trusteeships of galleries, museums and so forth
Category 10d Officer or trustee of a pressure group or union
Category 10e Officer or trustee of a voluntary or not-for-profit organisationIt is difficult to understand why Lord Smith has not declared his vice-presidency of the Campaign for Homosexual Equality under Category 10d. On enquiring, the (very helpful) Registrar of Lords' Interests, Mr Brendan Keith, explained that Lord Smith was an honorary officer of Campaign for Homosexual Equality, and added: 'There is no requirement in the House of Lords to register honorary non-remunerated posts, although in certain circumstances it may be necessary to declare them in e.g. business in the Chamber or in select committee.'
Which is rather interesting when one considers that Lord Smith did think it necessary to declare his vice-presidency of the Christian Socialist Movement, which is also an honorary non-remunerated post. Why should he feel the need to disclose his Christian activism but not his homosexual activism?
It is even more interesting when one considers that he thought it wholly necessary to disclose both to the ASA, which are listed as 'significant non-pecuniary interests'. And even more interesting than that is the fact that Lord Smith's ASA Register of Interests was updated as recently as 12th May, while those of every other ASA officer are dated March 2012. We await (with bated breath) confirmation of what Lord Smith chose to declare to the ASA on that date...