Saturday, 23 November 2013

Bishop of Winchester issues update on Jersey safeguarding

The Diocese of Winchester has issued this press release:

22nd November 2013: The Bishop of Winchester, the Rt Rev Tim Dakin has today issued the following statement, providing an update on the ongoing Jersey safeguarding inquiries:

“Earlier this the year I commissioned an Investigation into a safeguarding complaint in the Deanery of Jersey, conducted by former High Court Judge Dame Heather Steel. The purpose of the Investigation was to advise me if there was any reason for disciplinary action to be taken against any member of the clergy.

“Dame Heather has informed me that she is finalising her investigation report. However, I have received legal representations from an interested party requiring me to undertake not to release the report to any person. On legal advice I have agreed to comply with the request and this means that I am currently unable to publish the report or provide further information about the representations that have been made.

“What I can state at this point, based on Dame Heather’s findings to date, is that I will not be taking disciplinary action against any member of the clergy in relation to the handling of the safeguarding complaint in question or the subsequent review process.

“The purpose of launching the inquiries in March was to understand fully the handling of the original complaint and to learn lessons for the future. I am all too conscious that questions remain about safeguarding best practice as well as the effect that this issue has had on Jersey’s relationship with the rest of the Diocese. I believe Bishop John Gladwin’s Visitation will help in the long-term, but in practice I feel that more immediate steps must now be taken in order to achieve progress.

“Given the current circumstances, and in order to move us forward, I have sought the support of the Archbishop of Canterbury to initiate a pastoral visit to the Channel Islands, so that a fresh perspective can be taken on safeguarding. The visit will be conducted next month jointly by the Rt Rev Nigel Stock, Bishop at Lambeth, and the Rt Rev Trevor Willmott, Bishop of Dover, and has the Archbishop of Canterbury’s full support. Bishop Trevor is a former Bishop of Basingstoke and so I feel his previous knowledge of the Channel Islands will be of significant benefit. On the visit, the Bishops will meet with local church leaders and Island authorities from both Deaneries, in order to help understand how the current situation may be progressed. Their visit will enable further conversations to be held which I am sure will benefit the Islands and the wider diocese. They will report back to me by the end of the year.

“I am informing the Dean and Lt Governor of Guernsey of this as well. Although some of what has led to this proposal has more directly arisen on Jersey, the Islands will be bound to have many common interests in both the process and the outcome, and I wish them to be fully engaged in the relevant actions and interactions.

“In all of this, the victim at the heart of the original complaint should not be forgotten. As a Church, we are called to reach out to the least, the last and the lost, even though at times they may reject the help we offer. In HG’s case, that rejection has been entirely understandable, given how she sees her experience of the Church of England. A number of people across the Diocese have been working hard to find a way of helping that could be acceptable to her. Having sought expert advice from health professionals and specialist charities, we have made provisions to help support HG, through a third party. We pray that she will be able to accept what is being offered.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 23 November 2013 at 12:04pm GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England
Comments

This is a curious case that has been running for some time now. It looks like the Diocese of Winchester is caught in a trap of what is ultimately its own making.

A suppressed report, new investigative bishops flown in over the head of an existing one, a nuanced press release - far from quietening down this is turning into a cause célèbre.

Posted by: Concerned Anglican on Sunday, 24 November 2013 at 9:30am GMT

This case seems to have a life of its own and the Bishop of Winchester must be regretting getting involved to the extent he has. The matters at issue well predate his consecration and it would have been open to him to say that he would wait until others had investigated the issues, which are clearly complex. As I understand it, there has been an initial report (six years after the alleged incident(s)), an ongoing report in two parts by a retired diocesan and a retired High Court judge (the latter of which, nearly complete, is now not going to be published) and now a planned joint visitation by the Bishop of Dover and Bishop in Lambeth (with the blessing of the ++ABC whose team need to be diverted for the purpose). There is talk of 2,000 documents, no doubt many being angry emails. All of this stems from a safeguarding issue allegedly involving a Churchwarden and parishioner on the Island. How can this all be? There is clearly a spiritual side to all this, given the monstrous distraction it is causing to the mission of the church. It is entirely possible that none of these new initiatives/actions will allow a line to be drawn under the issues, in which event the best advice must be to stop now. Chichester discovered that it just needed to learn the lessons and ensure that for the future safeguarding was handled far better. Winchester should do the same.

Posted by: Anthony Archer on Sunday, 24 November 2013 at 8:05pm GMT

It is concerning to note that the investigation is still being kept internal to the Church.

Has anyone thought of approaching the local authority to undertaken a review of the case? This would provide far greater transparency and give people more confidence in the findings, outcomes and recommendations.

Posted by: Mary Peterson on Monday, 25 November 2013 at 9:12am GMT

The intervention of a Jersey Senator reported by Peter Ould on his blog turns this fiasco into a fully fledged disaster, Sir Philip Bailhache says only the bishop's staff or the author of the earlier report could have anything to lose by its publication (the previous bishop has a dog in this fight too).

This was just what the bishop did not want to read.

Just who has seen the draft report that has produced this reaction?
It's not over yet, expect legal moves to see this report published.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Monday, 25 November 2013 at 10:23am GMT

This is all very interesting if not a little sinister. I too have had a very negative experience of the Diocese of Winchester. I can't say too much at present as the investigation is ongoing but it basically revolves around false allegations being made against a close family member by the church authorities and when outside agencies rejected these claims further attempts were made not only to discredit my close relative but also myself, my children and any member of the congregation who dared to speak up for us. There has been a complete cock-up in the provision of pastoral care. Although the case in question is much more serious than mine I can see several parallels between them. Is it time we had a vote of no confidence in the Bishop of Winchester? We should dispense with the 'divine right of bishops' and instead ensure that they are accountable to the laity for their actions. Likewise the laity must take more responsibility for what is being done in their name. I have learnt the hard way that a clerical collar (or even a mitre) is no guarantee of a commitment to God or His Holy Church. We say we are a protestant church so perhaps it's time we started protesting.

Posted by: Ceri Edwards on Monday, 30 December 2013 at 9:04pm GMT
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