Monday, 11 May 2015

Bishop Michael Perham

Updated again 17 May

Lambeth Palace has released the following statement concerning Bishop Michael Perham, the retired Bishop of Gloucester.

Statement on retired Bishop of Gloucester

Monday 11th May 2015
Statement in relation to the Rt Revd Michael Perham, retired Bishop of Gloucester.

Following a police investigation concerning Bishop Michael Perham last year, which resulted in no further action, the matter was reviewed by the Church of England in accordance with its national safeguarding policy. With the full co-operation of the Bishop an independent risk assessment has been satisfactorily completed and as a result Bishop Michael will be able to take up Ministry in retirement, and the postponed farewells for him in Gloucester can now take place.

We will be making no further comment on this matter.

The Diocese of Gloucester has this announcement: Bishop Michael

Statement from Rt Revd Michael Perham on the conclusion of the church process

11 May 2015

“I am glad that the church process has concluded and that the outcome is clear and decisive.
“The Church has to be rigorous in its approach to safeguarding and, as I made absolutely clear from the start, its investigations had to be thorough to leave no doubt about its conclusions.
“I am, of course, immensely heartened that I can now return to ministry in my retirement. I have a deep sense of gratitude to all in the Diocese of Gloucester, and beyond, who have supported, encouraged and upheld me, and my family, through a long and testing process.
“Now I can look forward to a celebration in Gloucester to bring my ministry there as its bishop for 10 years to a proper conclusion and, afterwards, to a new phase of being a priest and bishop in active retirement.”

Statement from the Diocese of Gloucester in response to news from Lambeth Palace

11 May 2015

“The Diocese of Gloucester welcomes today’s statement from Lambeth Palace concerning the Rt Revd Michael Perham. Following a police investigation last year, which resulted in no further action, the matter in relation to Bishop Michael was reviewed by the Church of England in accordance with its national safeguarding policy. We are gladdened by today’s news from Lambeth Palace that following the completed review and independent risk assessment, Bishop Michael has been cleared to take up ministry in his retirement. We look forward to marking Bishop Michael’s committed and dedicated ministry to this diocese, with a service of thanksgiving at Gloucester Cathedral on Saturday 13 June.”

Update 17 May

There is a BBC report including an interview with Bishop Michael:
Ex-Bishop of Gloucester Michael Perham calls for law change.

Posted by Simon Kershaw on Monday, 11 May 2015 at 12:30pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England

What an utterly graceless press release from Lambeth. No acknowledgement of what Michael & Alison Perham must have suffered over these past 9 months; no affirmation of his Michael's and energetic ministry as a parish priest, dean and bishop; no thanks for the crucial part he played in shaping the way we worship; and no regret that he has had to step back from public ministry long after the police concluded there were no grounds to the complaint.

Bishop Michael was swiftly required to withdraw from public ministry at the first hint of a police interview. A neutral act, we are told, while police investigations take place. It's been a very different story for Justin Welby's old friend, The Reverend Prebendary Lord Stephen Green of Hurstpierpoint, hasn't it?

Posted by: James A on Monday, 11 May 2015 at 1:31pm BST

Good news. Perhaps,as well as his thank yous and farewells from the Diocese, the Church can also thank him for his wider ministry, especially his contribution to Common Worship and its development.

Posted by: Susan Cooper on Monday, 11 May 2015 at 4:15pm BST

Really pleased that this has finally been brought to an end. Horrendous experience for Michael. At least there can now be a proper celebration of his ministry and huge contribution to the CofE. We owe him great gratitude.

Posted by: Pete Broadbent on Monday, 11 May 2015 at 5:59pm BST

I am delighted about this.I agree Welby has been graceless. I hope the diocese give +Michael a tremendous 'send off'.I am most grateful to him for his consistent and faithful support of the ordination of women. I hope he has a long and happy retirement.

Posted by: Jean Mayland (Revd) on Monday, 11 May 2015 at 6:08pm BST

James -

I don't think, perhaps, you realise how much the C of E's hands are tied post Savile/Chichester/Rotherham et al (and I have a personal/professional story I could tell but which professional etiquette forbids me sharing). Let's just rejoice that Michael can now celebrate his retirement and enjoy episcopal ministry, free from the burdens of office, as we all (and I hope, all) look forward to the consecration and enthronement of Rachel, his successor.

Posted by: David Lamming on Monday, 11 May 2015 at 7:49pm BST

As others have already said: The 'Statement' from Lambeth Palace - even though Bishop Michael has been 'cleared' by the police of whatever offence he was accused of that deprived of his ministry as a diocesan bishop in the Church of England - does seem a little lacking in charity, to say the very least.

Could there not have been some expression of gratitude that the bishop had been declared free of guilt, and some indication given of appreciation of his obviously valuable ministry as a bishop in the Church?

My prayers are for Michael and his family!

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Monday, 11 May 2015 at 10:34pm BST

I agree with David Lamming - in the process and statements Lambeth has had to be very careful. But instead of the sound of a bureaucrat's door slamming ('no further comment') could the statement not have closed by wishing Bishop Michael well in his return to ministry in retirement?
But there will be further comment actually. As I understand it the process itself and its handling will now be the subject of a review.

Posted by: David Runcorn on Tuesday, 12 May 2015 at 4:53am BST

So let me get this straight, @David Lamming, that a damaged individual makes an accusation against a bishop. The police investigate and say that the allegations are groundless. The Church then initiates its own process (are the Church's processes more rigorous than the police's?) and takes an eternity about it, leaving the bishop and his family in some kind of limbo with the added hurt of not allowing the bishop to say farewell to his diocese before he retires. Not just any old bishop, but a bishop who has been a good, faithful and creative servant of the church - and its worship in particular. Then it issues a statement which reads like something grudging from the Kremlin. No expression of concern for what he has been through. No hint of the hope of healing and the welcome of the resumption of his ministry. As @James says, utterly graceless. yet again, the lawyers (not the theologians) were left to do this weren't they?

As for 'hands being tied' this just proves, yet again, that the Church is like a rabbit caught in the headlights when it comes to sex. All other acts of immorality (e.g. money) don't score as highly and a police investigation into another high profile priest is treated as if it doesn't matter.

I'm relieved to hear there will be a review because the whole episode stinks. I wonder, if it had concerned a 'bishop like us' and Bishop Michael had trained at Cranmer Hall in the early 90s, whether we would be in this place now?

Posted by: Will Richards on Tuesday, 12 May 2015 at 10:02am BST

"a damaged individual makes an accusation against a bishop. The police investigate and say that the allegations are groundless. The Church then initiates its own process (are the Church's processes more rigorous than the police's?)" Will Richards

Disclaimer *I know absolutely nothing about the facts of this case*

The statement from Lambeth Palace states that the police investigation "resulted in no further action" which isn't exactly the same thing as saying "the allegations are groundless".

There are any number of things a person can do which are not illegal - and thus are of no interest to the police - but might be of interest to an 'employer' (or whatever the Church is when the person concerned is an 'office holder'). A Bishop may choose to enter into a consensual adulterous relationship with an 18-year-old (perfectly legal) but I doubt if s/he would remain a Bishop for long after its discovery.

I agree with your point about the slowness of the investigation - investigations of this type shuld be done as quickly as thoroughness allows.

I realise that this comment has a 'no smoke without fire' air about it. That is not my intention and I repeat that I know nothing of the facts of this case. My comment does, however, offer an explanation as to why the Church may have had to conduct its own investigation in addition to/alongside the one undertaken by the police.

Posted by: Laurence Cunnington on Tuesday, 12 May 2015 at 1:19pm BST

Absolutely James A. If ever there were a case to investigate conduct unbecomin...

Posted by: ExRevd on Tuesday, 12 May 2015 at 2:16pm BST

Perhaps @Laurence Cunnington posted his latest comment before taking time to read Bishop Michael's statement which says "the outcome is clear and decisive." It's a pity Lambeth couldn't bring itself to concur.

And do you think the Diocese of Gloucester would have been allowed to plan a celebratory farewell by the control freaks in Lambeth if there was any "smoke with - or without - fire"?

Posted by: Will Richards on Wednesday, 13 May 2015 at 7:43am BST

"It's a pity Lambeth couldn't bring itself to concur." Will Richards

Quite. If I were in Bishop Michael's shoes I would have wanted a much clearer statement from Lambeth Palace.

Posted by: Laurence Cunnington on Wednesday, 13 May 2015 at 6:24pm BST

While I agree with what Bishop of Gloucester, Michael Perham, said :" (his) name and those allegations should not have been bandied around on the national media", I have to add one point which may indeed require the victims of false accusations (such as Michael Perham)to be shown in public - ESPECIALLY AS INNOCENT. The reason why I say this is that the false accusations were not done "by chance", they fulfil a function in IDENTITY THEFT of the person thus falsely accused. Police should therefore prosecute the libel as well, otherwise it is possible that the Bishop may be harassed further by the ID theft mafia. Regards, Irmgard Kronsbein-Bellchambers (Frankfurt)

Posted by: Mrs Irmgard Kronsbein-Bellchambers on Sunday, 17 May 2015 at 2:24pm BST

The cautious statement from Lambeth Palace is possibly occasioned by the well-known impossibility of proving a negative. No matter how strenuous my declarations, it can never be said, “Sister Mary has never robbed a bank.”

I have two close friends, both outstanding RC priests, who have been permanently suspended from ministry on the basis of insubstantial and totally unproven allegations of sexual abuse. In each separate case the allegation came from one individual whose statement was vigorously denied by the accused. Yet immediately upon the notification to the police, both were banned by Church authorities from their clerical homes and areas.

A false allegation may be due to malice or to misunderstanding, but the results for the accused, who is the real victim, are devastating. (Not even a Church process can prove that I have never robbed a bank). Henceforth Bishop Michael’s name will be for ever open to snide insinuations. This is destructively unjust.

If the police process were to remain secret until a credible charge were brought, much anguish would be avoided. Without publicised police enquiries, the grounds for civil investigation would be greatly reduced, and largely based on gossip.

Ad multos annos, Bishop Michael! God be with you.

Posted by: Sister Mary on Monday, 18 May 2015 at 9:13am BST

Delighted that Michael is now vindicated. Dreadful behavior from Lambeth- yes one rule for sex and quite another for money.

Posted by: Bryan Spinks on Wednesday, 3 June 2015 at 2:14am BST
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