Church of England disinvests from News Corporation

Andrew Brown, secretary of the Church Commissioners, says the decision has been made after a year of negotiations because of the phone hacking allegations

Andrew Brown
Andrew Brown

The Church of England has sold shares worth £1.9m in the Murdoch media group News Corporation in the wake of the phone hacking scandal at its British newspapers.

The Church Commissioners and the Church of England Pensions Board took the decision on the advice of the CofE’s Ethical Investment Advisory Group.

The Church of England raised concerns with the board of News Corporation in the aftermath of the phone hacking allegations, which first arose in July 2011. But after a year of discussions with the company, the Church of England said that it was not satisfied that News Corporation would implement the necessary corporate governance reform.

Andrew Brown, secretary of the Church Commissioners, said: "Last year's phone hacking allegations raised some serious concerns among the church's investing bodies about our holding in News Corporation. Our decision to disinvest was not taken lightly and follows a year of continuous dialogue with the company, during which the EIAG put forward a number of recommendations about how corporate governance structures at News Corporation could be improved. However, the EIAG does not feel that the company has brought about sufficient change and we have accepted its advice to disinvest."

The Church established the EIAG in 1994 to advise it on its investment policies. Between April 2011 and March 2012. the EIAG held meetings with 40 companies, one of which was News Corporation, about their activities.

The Church of England already excludes investment in companies involved in military products and services, pornography, alcoholic drinks, gambling, tobacco, human embryonic cloning and high interest rate lending.

News Corporation was unavailable for comment.

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