Archbishop of Canterbury confesses: Church’s Wonga investments are 'very embarrassing', says Welby

Most Rev Justin Welby promises he will ‘make sure it doesn’t happen again’

The Archbishop of Canterbury said revelations that the Church of England has indirectly invested in Wonga were “very embarrassing”, coming just two days after he said he wanted to drive the payday lender out of business.

It emerged yesterday that around £75,000 from the Church’s pension fund was used to fund the firm, and the Most Rev Justin Welby said he was unhappy with the investment company managing their money.

“They shouldn't be investing in Wonga. We don't think that's a good thing,” he said.

Mr Welby said it was Church policy not to invest in money-lending companies, before adding that they are allowed to have their funds with larger businesses where less than a quarter of their work is in this area.

He also distanced himself from decisions surrounding the Church’s investment practice, saying: “My own view is that that is probably too high a level. But it is an ethical investment advisory group, I don't have the authority to tell them what to do.“

Nevertheless, Mr Welby said: ”Now, it shouldn't happen, it's very embarrassing, but these things do happen. We have to find out why and make sure it doesn't happen again.“

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, the Archbishop said he didn’t just want to pick a fight with Wonga specifically, and was rather targeting the “entire payday lender movement”.

He said: “We need to provide a proper alternative to these very, very costly forms of finance. The worst people are not Wonga. There are plenty of others much worse.”

A spokesperson for Lambeth Palace said investments in Accel Partners, a US venture capital firm which fundraised for Wonga in 2009, were being reviewed after the Church was alerted to the “serious inconsistency” by the Financial Times.

Mr Welby had previously won political support from across the spectrum after warning Mr Damelin that he intends to outflank his loans company by extending the Church’s network of credit unions.

Questioned on the row, the Chancellor George Osborne said: “I want to see as many options as possible.” Mr Damelin described the Archbishop as an “exceptional individual” after a conversation between the pair. Meanwhile, Channel 5 has announced a partnership with Wonga to finance a new television show on “endurance challenges”.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk