Sunday, 10 March 2013

Dean of Jersey suspended for safeguarding failure

Updated again Friday morning

The Diocese of Winchester on Saturday issued this announcement:

THE BISHOP OF WINCHESTER has today withdrawn the commission of the Dean of Jersey, the Very Reverend Robert Key, effectively suspending him. The Dean of Jersey’s suspension follows the publication today of an Independent Report [see PDF file here], commissioned by the Diocese of Winchester’s Safeguarding Panel. This has found that there were a number of failures in the implementation of policies, in relation to a safeguarding complaint in 2008.

The report raises concerns that the Dean of Jersey did not comply with key safeguarding procedures in dealing with the complaints of a vulnerable adult parishioner, who had made a complaint about abusive behaviour by a Churchwarden in Jersey.

Following the announcement of the suspension, the Bishop will now begin an investigation into the conduct of the case by the Dean of Jersey and other matters raised by the report. The report describes a number of areas where proper practice was not followed including an apparent failure to take the complaint seriously, a perceived lack of neutrality, poor communication and lack of action.

The Right Reverend Tim Dakin, Bishop of Winchester, who is responsible for the Church of England in the Channel Islands said, “Firstly I want to give my unreserved apologies to the complainant for her treatment. Protecting the vulnerable is at the heart of the Church of England’s mission. With that comes a duty to ensure those in need are properly looked after. It is vital that robust safeguarding policies are in place and, above all, that they are properly implemented.

“This Independent Report suggests that, put simply, our policies were not implemented as they should have been. I am particularly disappointed that the Dean of Jersey refused to cooperate with the review and I have now ordered an immediate and thorough investigation. In the wake of the report, difficult but necessary and decisive actions are required to ensure that, in the future, procedures will be followed properly.”

Andrew Robinson, Chief Executive of the Diocese of Winchester said, “The Diocese takes its safeguarding duties very seriously. This is why we commissioned the Independent Report and is why we have taken action to ensure our safeguarding polices are robust and adhered to. We are determined to learn from the mistakes made in this particular case and shall be enhancing our safeguarding procedures and policies.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury has published this: Archbishop supports response to Winchester safeguarding report.


Law and Religion UK has published Review of Church’s safeguarding provisions in Jersey.

See also the three five (so far) links to informative articles on this case by Peter Ould, earlier ones noted in the comments below.

Chair of National Safeguarding adds support
Statement by the Chief Minister of Jersey
Response by the Bishop of Winchester

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 10 March 2013 at 1:45pm GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England

A serious set of failures and missed opportunities. It is very important to be clear that autism is in no way linked to criminal behaviour or persistent abusive behaviour of this kind. It is social clumsiness and a need for routine, alongside sensory processing issues. Mental health conditions can occur alongside autism in some people, and these may well cause such behaviours. Most on the autism spectrum are very kind and gentle people who are immensely good and loyal friends. But in situations where there is concern around an autistic individual, people like me are here as a national resource. We are here to stop situations getting out of control, and to guide people into the right support and behaviours.

Posted by: Ann Memmott on Sunday, 10 March 2013 at 4:54pm GMT

Local broadcasting coverage of this story with interviews of the bishop

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 10 March 2013 at 5:38pm GMT

More background on the complex legal situation that exists in Jersey:

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 10 March 2013 at 11:19pm GMT

Yes Ann and all Christians are called to healing ministry. I used to work for MIND before being ordained and spotted a vulnerable individual in our choir. I eventually, after being rubbished by other professionals, including church members, was able to get her assessed by a top Autistic specialist and a conclusive late diagnosis of Asperger's was made at aged 58.This as you will know is not a rare occurence as there are still a great many doctors who do not support the evidence that Autism is from birth.

My friend is kind and thoroughly honest but cannot discern other people's malign thoughts and doings quickly enough. She has a little part time job and thank God she rings me three times a week as one employee was actively trying to pin her own fraudulent behaviour on my friend. By this time she was panic stricken and wanted to run from all authority. This very real problem needed immediate action. Fortunately HR dealt with situation well. In parish I obtained permission from the lady to inform all those in authority of her disability. In the main this was helpful but one key figure refused to accept the diagnosis as she would rather think bad thoughts and criticise. My friend has made magnificent progress as a result of the support network that now surrounds her daily living and worship life.

I was accused by some on PCC of being a social worker!

I am impressed by the transparancy of this report from Winchester for there is too much dismissal of 'the least of these' who often point us to great things concerning vibrant community and mission.

Posted by: Rosie Bates on Sunday, 10 March 2013 at 11:32pm GMT


Whilst I commend you pastoral approach and work, are there not some confidentiality issues here with you, using your full name, talking about a presumably vulnerable adult and her issues on a fully public website accessible to all.

Have you asked the person's permission? And even then is it a good thing to be sharing such personal stuff so openly?


Posted by: Simon Dawson on Monday, 11 March 2013 at 9:17am GMT

I hope the church will now also take practical steps to help get the life of that woman back on track.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Monday, 11 March 2013 at 10:20am GMT

openess it is what is needed in this as in many other matters.

It is very middle class, very anglican, very respectable - and very dangerous to hush things up as the various sex scandals throughout the show demonstrate so admirably.

Boundaries matter but are not inimcal to openness.

For years as a young man I was urged to "be discreet" / "keep quiet" /" shut the f up "

about being gay and having a love(r). Silencing people is a form of repression and oppression which enables those with bad intent to flourish.

"A social worker !" just fancy that !

A Russian Orthodox minister recently told me he didnt mind women being ordained as "anglican priests are merely social workers any way." ! Who does more good ?

I write as a retired jungian analyst and minister, so I know a little about boundaries, confidentiality, healing; and also the BS to be found in many a church, pcc and analytical body !

Let everyone come out !

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Monday, 11 March 2013 at 11:48am GMT

Further information from sources in the Winchester diocese:

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 11 March 2013 at 1:06pm GMT

I'm impressed too by the Winchester report but troubled by the recommendation that clergy should make and keep a written record of every pastoral encounter. I'm not sure that this is a) wise or b) practical, but suspect that we'll end up adopting a version of it. Most people I deal with would, I think, be horrified that I would make a note of what had passed between us.

Does anyone currently do this, and if so, how have the challenges of confidentiality and data security been addressed?

Posted by: Jonathan Jennings on Monday, 11 March 2013 at 1:45pm GMT

Simon Dawson,

The person was not named and Yes the person knows as we had spoken earlier.

Recently there seems to have been a lot of academic discussion concerning vulnerable people and where truth may lie. In my past experience there were few pastoral resources in Diocesan offices re vulnerable adults and if an office holder did not sympathise with a particular situation or had become used to operating in an 'old boys network' reporting matters was something of a lottery. The person I have referred to was experiencing extreme difficulties and I recall there was no one else helping at the time. Actually many church people were critising or walking by on the other side. Autism is a particularly complex and broad spectrum illness and it is often hard for others in pastoral situations to look past the trivial to the important underlying need. I was just trying to point out how easily these serious situations can occur and how sometimes clergy may receive opposition for wishing to protect and guide -quite often because congregations and diocesan offices are frankly pretty indifferent.

Simon your comment seems very harsh and I find myself wondering what this is all about. Why have a problem with a relevant case history?

The Church of England has been operating in a culture of secrecy, silencing and paper shuffling for donkey's years. If you knew how many times I have been hushed up, threatened and abused during the course of my ministry, I wonder if you would
think differently. I have had very little cause to have faith in safeguarding policies, if they even existed at the time and it was therefore good to note a Diocese being transparant.

It is sad that this report has needed to be published but maybe some ignorant priests, laypeople in authority etc will learn something from it.

Posted by: Rosie Bates on Monday, 11 March 2013 at 3:16pm GMT

I would also point readers to the fact that they would have to have read the report in detail to understand why I made my comments. Did you Simon?

Posted by: Rosie Bates on Monday, 11 March 2013 at 3:44pm GMT

I understand that the Channel Islands were originally in the Diocese of Coutences, in Normandy. They were part of the Duchy of Normandy and thus came with William the Conqueror into his united Norman / English jurisdiction. King John held on to the islands after he lost control of the rest of Normandy. In the middle ages there were papal bulls that tried to transfer them first to the diocese of Salisbury and then to Winchester. An order in council of Elizabeth I in 1569 placed them in the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Bishop of Winchester. This still pertains today.
So, whilst the islands are semi-detached from England and Winchester it is clear that the clergy of the islands do come under the Bishop of Winchester's authority.
I'll get my anorak …

Posted by: Will Adam on Monday, 11 March 2013 at 4:09pm GMT

It is many years since I have done such a thing, but I used to be in a position where it was useful to and it then followed the pattern of 'Early afternoon, meeting with Joe Bloggs. Discussion: Open Table. Late afternoon, meeting with Jane Hind. Discussion: baptism her grandchildren, scheduled 2.30 Sunday 6, meeting with her children Friday 4, 7pm, in diary.' I very strongly doubt anybody would be distressed or think confidentiality breached by this kind of thing, and it was useful to keep track of where things were. (People better organised than I might not need to record that they had indeed transferred dates to diaries, but ...)

Posted by: Rosemary Hannah on Monday, 11 March 2013 at 7:31pm GMT

A huge concern to me is the Jersey authorities failure in caring for this woman. I served in Jersey some years ago and a member of my congregation who became homeless through no fault of their own, with small children, was thrown off the island in a similar manner. Simply, if you don't have 'ressies' (Residential Qualifications - essentially if your not rich enough or considered essentially employed) )there is simply no compassion or sense of responsibility towards the vulnerable. If this case brings that into the light then some good will come out of this terrible situation.

Posted by: Paul Wilkin on Tuesday, 12 March 2013 at 11:42am GMT

Thanks Rosemary - very helpful. I like the 'de minimis' approach...

My worry is that these kinds of notes - probably the most I'd feel safe in recording - would not meet the perceived need articulated in the report - that of providing an accurate aide memoire of the detail involved in a pastoral situation in which a cleric attempted to meet the pastoral needs of a parishioner.

I suspect we'll end up with a 'gold standard' for the recording of such notes (hedged round with legal reminders about what can and cannot, should and should not be recorded); a gold standard for the safekeeping of such notes (recognising data protection concerns) and all kinds of other attendant considerations then coming into play.

What legal status would such notes have? Will they be eligible for 'qualified privilege' in the event of a libel or slander case? Not constituting material coming under the seal of the confessional (or would they?) could they nevertheless be protected? Could they on the other hand end up subject to a disclosure order in the course of a court case? A disciplinary case? Could they be published if used in court, in the same way that texts and emails have appeared at the end of the Pryce/Huhne trial? Could they be required as witness evidence in a dispute not directly involving the church?

I feel a letter to John Rees coming on ...

Posted by: Jonathan Jennings on Tuesday, 12 March 2013 at 2:01pm GMT

And a third update from Peter Ould

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 12 March 2013 at 10:39pm GMT

I can thoroughly empathise with this young lady who was so badly treated by the church. I am appalled at the suffering that has been caused to her and that her life has been destroyed. I am also a vulnerable adult and have been similarly treated by the church elsewhere, after being subjected to, and objecting to, other abuses of myself by people in authority in the local church. The way they treated me just about destroyed me, and I do not want to get "involved" in a church ever again. I think that if I had not been a believer, I might well have committed suicide. I pray that wherever this young lady is, she will know and feel the Lord's love for her, and His faithfulness. "Underneath are the Everlasting Arms."

Posted by: anonymous on Wednesday, 20 March 2013 at 10:19am GMT
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