The Church Times reports today on the case of The Reverend Mark Sharpe.
See Diocese accepts priest in harassment case is ‘worker’ by Shiranikha Herbert with some additional material by me.
A CHURCH OF ENGLAND cleric is a “worker” who is entitled to bring a claim against the Church, the diocese of Worcester conceded as a preliminary point in a claim brought in an employment tribunal at Birmingham by the Revd Mark Sharpe, Rector of Teme Valley South.
Mr Sharpe, who is 41, a former police officer who was ordained in 2001, claimed that during his three-year tenure he had been subjected to constant verbal abuse, his pet dog had been killed, faeces had been smeared on his car, and his tyres had been slashed. He also claimed that the vicarage where he lived with his wife and four children was infested with mice and frogs, the heating and electrical systems were danger ous, and deadly asbestos had been found.
He applied for damages for economic loss, injury to health and to his feelings, and aggravated damages for his time in the parish, which, he said, had a 40-year history of vicars, including his two immediate predecessors, who had left in controversial circumstances…
There is a further report on the Charity Finance website headed Church denies union claims of employment rights revolution.
The Church, however, says that the tribunal case has no impact on the status of any clergy outside the case itself. Agreeing to consider Revd. Sharpe a ‘worker’ was a requirement to allow the case to move forward, said Sam Setchell, a spokesperson for the Diocese of Worcester.
“The Unite union is making much of a legal technicality that is part of the normal preliminaries to a tribunal. It does not have the wide-ranging implications claimed,” said Ben Wilson, a spokesman for the Church of England. “As the union themselves concede, this case is still in its preliminary stages.”
The tribunal is hearing a case brought against the Diocese of Worcester by Revd. Sharpe who alleges that over his three years at the parish he has been subject to verbal abuse and harassment. The Reverend claims that his living conditions were extremely poor; that asbestos was found at his accommodation and that its electricity and heating systems were dangerous. The Diocese of Worcester denies the allegations, but has refused to make further comment while the case is ongoing.
The claims made by the Unite trade union can be found in its press release.
For more links and background to this case, see the Church Times blog article headed ‘Clergy set for biggest boost in employment conditions in 500 years’, according to union.