'I'd do it all over again, even though it hit my family hard' - Fraser

The priest who backed the Occupy protest stands by his decision to quit St Paul's

His decision precipitated a crisis in the Church of England and helped legitimise a protest movement. On 27 October, the charismatic Giles Fraser tweeted he was stepping down as canon chancellor of St Paul's Cathedral.

In his first full interview about the events, Dr Fraser said he stands by his decision, though he regrets the storm that engulfed the Church. The resignation, a matter of loyalty to faith over commitment, left him hunted by the press and facing an uncertain future for his family. But it rekindled his passion for social justice. The Occupy protests resonated with "middle England", he said, adding that the Prime Minister's call for a moral code needed to look at institutions as well as individuals.

Dr Fraser's stand came when the cathedral's chapter voted in favour of a legal action to forcibly move protesters from St Paul's. It polarised a Church charged with acting contrary its teachings – and led to the Dean of St Paul's, the Rt Rev Graeme Knowles, resigning after the Archbishop of Canterbury reluctantly entered the debate.

"It happened quickly but it wasn't in any sense I was uncertain about the decision," Dr Fraser said. "You have a conflict of loyalty. On one hand a loyalty to colleagues, cathedral and chapter. But you have a loyalty to the reason the cathedral was built in the first place. And that has ultimately to be a primary loyalty. It is not that other people don't have that loyalty, they just thought that it ought to be expressed differently. I could not work out how I could stay there and say the things I wanted to say in good conscience, had I been party to a decision to go ahead with an eviction."

First to feel the effects were his family, a wife and three children who will have to move out of their grace and favour home by April. "It means possibly moving my daughter out of school. My eldest is in her GCSE year," he said. "The way I explained the decision to my children was to get a YouTube clip of police very forcibly moving people at Occupy Melbourne. I said, 'We are going to have to change our life and move', they completely got it."

Dr Fraser was warmed by public support – "nearly 1,000 letters, two that were hostile" – as the implications of his decision started to resonate. Other aspects were harder to deal with. "Press were banging on the door, literally bang, bang, bang for half an hour. It is a form of torture. Another newspaper door-stepped my mother. You do get a sense of being hunted. And though I am not frightened of the media attention generally, this was a very intense glare."

Dr Fraser agreed that he has had a tendency to be seen as a free spirit and that he may find it easier to operate without the shackles of institutional responsibilities. "I think I probably need to be in a less Establishment environment," he said. "The Church of England has always had a way of accommodating difference, that's its great strength."

The resignation will allow him to pursue certain aspects of his work. "I think my commitment to social justice has been rekindled. That for me burns brighter than it did before," he said. "The very interesting thing is, part of my job at St Paul's was to engage with the City. I have been trying to do that for two years, which hasn't been easy. The irony is the thing that has made it all possible, and brought an opportunity to do that, is the resignation."

While he remains "totally committed to the Church of England" the resignation will let him support the Occupy movement – which he commends for its ideals but also its lack of leadership that "allows discussion about issues not leaders". "Its messages resonate with ... people in the shires and middle England – the country is not a wholly owned subsidiary of the City."

Dr Fraser also now has the space to be critical of the Prime Minister's call for return to morality. "David Cameron seems to define morality in terms of the individual but there is a common morality and I don't think he gets that aspect of morality," he said. "He doesn't get there are steep structural problems we need to answer."

Suggested Topics
world cup 2014A history of the third-place play-offs
Tommy Ramone performing at The Old Waldorf Nightclub in 1978 in San Francisco, California.
peopleDrummer Tommy was last surviving member of seminal band
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

The Mexico chief finally lets rip as his emotions get the better of him
world cup 2014
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Spectators photograph the Tour de France riders as they make their way through the Yorkshire countryside
voicesHoward Jacobson: Line the streets for a cycling race? You might just as well watch a swarm of wasps
Life and Style
lifeHere's one answer to an inquisitive Reddit user's question
Life and Style
Several male celebrities have confessed to being on a diet, including, from left to right, Hugh Grant, Benedict Cumberbatch and Ryan Reynolds
...and the weight loss industry is rubbing its hands in glee
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
Yaya Touré has defended his posturing over his future at Manchester City
Detail of the dress made entirely of loom bands
Life and Style
There were mass celebrations across Argentina as the country's national team reached their first World Cup final for 24 years
transfersOne of the men to suffer cardiac arrest was 16 years old
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, Accreditation, ITIL)

£70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, A...

C# Developer (HTML5, JavaScript, ASP.NET, Mathematics, Entity)

£30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

C# Integration Developer (.NET, Tibco EMS, SQL 2008/2012, XML)

£60000 - £80000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Integration...

Biztalk - outstanding opportunity

£75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice