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Decision by the President of Tribunals
The Very Revd. Professor Martyn Percy
A decision has been made regarding the complaint against the Very Reverend Martyn Percy, Dean of Christ Church, Oxford. The President of Tribunals, Dame Sarah Asplin DBE, has decided that it would not be proportionate to refer the matter to a CDM tribunal, noting that there is another means of redress that is a more proportionate means of addressing the allegation.
The role of the President of Tribunals is to determine whether there is a case to answer on which a disciplinary tribunal should adjudicate. She writes: “When arriving at this conclusion, I also take into account that Christ Church itself has instigated its own inquiry into the incident. It seems to me therefore that there is another means of redress which is a more proportionate means of addressing alleged incidents.”
Dame Sarah’s decision concludes this Clergy Discipline Measure (CDM) process. The matter should be confidential between those involved in it. The Dean remains suspended by Christ Church, pending the outcome of the college’s separate and independently-chaired tribunal.
The Diocese of Oxford is fully committed to justice and fair process. We have offered significant support for those involved. This includes work to ensure proper procedures and offers of pastoral support and counselling for all parties. Where possible, Bishop Steven is also in regular personal contact with everyone involved.
Nevertheless, matters have been and remain extremely difficult and painful for all concerned. We are profoundly disappointed that these difficulties have been compounded by leaks, commentary and speculation by a small group of people online, apparently with little concern for the original complainant’s right to anonymity, or indeed a fair process for the Dean.
Breaches of confidentiality and regularly posting inaccurate information are to the detriment of everyone. The diocese has sought advice on these matters following the leak of Dame Sarah’s written decision. We draw to the attention of all the Clergy Discipline Commission guidance on Confidentiality and Privacy in Clergy Discipline Proceedings, dated February 2021, which is part of its Statutory Guidance:
Please join with us in praying for the complainant, for Martyn, for the cathedral chapter and congregation, and for the wider Christ Church community.
Archbishop Cranmer has this morning published Diocese of Oxford misrepresents the President of Tribunals, leaving Martyn Percy ‘under a cloud’.
This guest post by Martin Sewell and David Lamming is long and detailed. Reading it in full is strongly recommended.78 Comments
Next month’s meeting of the Church of England’s General Synod will now be held remotely via Zoom. This has necessitated some changes to the timetable; the amended version is online and is copied below the fold.
The following press release explains the change.
July Synod to take place online
The annual July meeting of the Church of England General Synod, due to take place in London, will now be held online following the Government decision to delay the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions for a month.
Synod’s Business Committee examined alternatives including a hybrid meeting or reduced attendance to comply with restrictions but has reluctantly concluded that the only viable option is to hold the group of sessions from July 9 to 12 remotely.
As a result, the timetable for the event has been slimmed down slightly, with some items better suited to a face-to-face meeting postponed and some extra screen breaks introduced.
In a letter to Synod members, the Clerk to the Synod Dr Jacqui Philips, said: “The Committee gave careful consideration to all options, including an in-person meeting, a hybrid meeting and a remote meeting.
“The Committee took legal advice regarding the ongoing restrictions and considered the health and safety options for a physical, socially-distanced meeting in Church House Westminster.
“Having done so, the Committee very reluctantly concluded that the only safe and deliverable option for next month is for Synod to meet on a remote basis.”
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Church Commissioners report strong long-term investment performance
Continued strong long-term investment performance enabled the Church Commissioners to extend financial support to the Church of England during the pandemic
Church Commissioners also give confidence about maintaining distributions through this triennium and the next
Determined action on climate change continues whilst the Church Commissioners deepen its focus as Responsible Investors on twin pillars: Respect for People, Respect for the Planet
789 days after he was first asked to “step aside” from his role as Canon Chancellor, Church of England processes have cleared him completely. He had been acquitted of any criminal charge by a Cardiff jury in December 2020.
The Church Times reports Safeguarding process drove us close to suicide, says Lincoln canon
On Saturday, it was announced that a church investigation had concluded that there was “no case to answer” after a protracted investigation by the police and the church authorities.
In a personal statement that was read out on Sunday, Canon Overend writes: “The diocese and the Church of England will now need to take stock of their safeguarding and CDM processes, which have harmed a great number of people and brought my wife and me close to suicide.”
He said on Monday that, at one point, his wife had been admitted to the Maytree Respite Centre in London for residential suicide-prevention care…
Statement from the Diocese of Lincoln
Statement from Lincoln Cathedral
The Church Times carries a further detailed news report, Five-minute meeting that led to a traumatic two-year ordeal and there is a reference to this matter in Leader comment: Is this institutional corruption?
The cover picture on this issue of the Church Times is a painting created by Sue Overend, more details here (scroll down).17 Comments
Rob Price The Living Church The Distance of the Performer
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There are related news items in The Guardian and Church Times.
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Pip Martin Church Times This traumatised nation needs open churches
“Keeping the doors unlocked shows pandemic-scarred parishioners that they are not alone”
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Meg Munn Chair of the National Safeguarding Panel Safeguarding and the Clergy Discipline Measure (CDM)
Peter Leonard ViaMedia.News Trigger Warning!3 Comments
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The Church of England has published a series of documents about the conduct of the elections to General Synod that will take place this summer, starting very shortly after the close of the July group of sessions. Although much of this is aimed at those conducting the elections, the documents will be of wider interest.
Not included in these documents are the numbers of proctors (clergy) and laity to be elected by dioceses, but they can be found in GS 2203.
There is also some information aimed at those considering standing for election.6 Comments
Updated yet again Saturday (scroll down)
The President of Tribunals, Dame Sarah Asplin has issued her decision, dated 28 May, concerning the CDM complaint made last November by Graham Ward in respect of the alleged conduct of Martyn Percy on 4 October. This follows an investigation by the Designated Officer, whose report she received on 25 May.
We first reported on this matter on 19 November, and then again on 9 January, 8 February, 19 February, 11 March, 17 March. This decision reported today relates only to the CDM action, not to the other complaints made elsewhere.
A redacted version of her decision (3 pages) can be found here. I recommend reading it in full. It concludes thus:
9. When determining whether there is a case to answer upon which a disciplinary tribunal should adjudicate, I must also bear in mind that the CDM is designed to deal with serious misconduct and that section 8(1)(d) of the CDM should be read in that light. Proportionality must also be borne in mind. Would it be proportionate to refer this matter to a tribunal for adjudication?
10. In my judgment, having considered all the evidence including the interviews conducted by the Designated Officer, the answer is “no”. Although I do not intend to trivialise Ms X’s allegations in any way, it seems to me that it would not be proportionate to refer this matter to a tribunal. The incident itself was extremely short, the alleged hair stroking was even shorter and the language and the conduct as a whole was not overtly sexual. If this is put together with: the fact that Ms X accepts that she was not upset in any way; stated originally that she was not perturbed (albeit she told the police that she was concerned what would happen next); the incident took place in a room which was or could be accessed by others; and Miss X stated that she would have accepted an apology if the Dean had admitted what she says took place, it seems to me that it is entirely disproportionate that this matter should be referred to a tribunal. When arriving at this conclusion I also take into account that Christ Church itself has instigated its own inquiry into the incident. It seems to me therefore, that there is another means of redress which is a more proportionate means of addressing alleged incidents. Accordingly, whilst in no way condoning the alleged behaviour, if it is proved to have taken place, I consider that this matter is not suitable to be referred to a tribunal.
The Church Times reports, with some additional detail: Dean Percy allegation does not warrant a CDM tribunal, judge rules.
Among the extra information, the appointment of Rachel Crasnow QC as chair of the new tribunal convened by Christ Church, is reported.
The reference in the decision to a letter from WSLaw is amplified:
Dame Sarah says in her Decision that she has “taken no account” of an email by Alison Talbot of Winckworth Sherwood, the law firm that has been representing Christ Church in its actions against Dean Percy. In the email, Ms Talbot is concerned that the CDM process might give weight to a legal opinion commissioned by friends of the Dean from the human-rights barristers Edward Fitzgerald QC and Paul Harris in March, that the alleged incident “even if true, could not justify the decision to appoint the second tribunal” at Christ Church.
Ms Talbot writes: “In case any weight is being placed on that opinion by either the NST or those conducting the CDM process we would like to make it clear that we consider that opinion to have been based on only part of the facts and ChCh has had several opinions from highly qualified legal experts expressing the contrary view.”
Christ Church has issued the following statement today:
Christ Church statement in response to media interest
1 June 2021
When a current member of Christ Church staff made an allegation of sexual harassment against a senior member in October 2020, we followed our formal internal processes. It is important that every member of our community has the right to come forward and make such a complaint, and Christ Church unequivocally condemns sexual harassment in any form.
Christ Church, as an employer, a charity, and an educational and religious institution, will always treat such an allegation with the utmost seriousness. In March 2021, Christ Church published an independent report by President of Welsh Tribunals, Sir Wyn Williams, to provide external, transparent scrutiny of the disciplinary processes it is following, including the setting up of a tribunal in accordance with its statutes. In his report, Sir Wyn Williams concluded, “I have no doubt that establishing a tribunal is a responsible use of charitable resource and in the best interests of Christ Church.” The tribunal process is continuing and there will be no further updates at this time, nor will Christ Church comment on any separate, external processes.
Each of these blog articles contains a detailed analysis of how this CDM decision may affect the other, parallel, pending investigations. And there are now also two mainstream media reports:
Two more articles:
Another announcement from Christ Church: Christ Church confirms internal disciplinary tribunal
4 June 2021
Christ Church has confirmed that a disciplinary tribunal is proceeding, in order to consider an allegation of sexual harassment made by a junior member of staff against a senior member in October 2020. In March 2021, Christ Church published an independent report by President of Welsh Tribunals, Sir Wyn Williams, to provide external scrutiny of the actions it has taken, including the setting up of a tribunal in accordance with its statutes. In his report, Sir Wyn Williams concluded, “I have no doubt that establishing a tribunal is a responsible use of charitable resource and in the best interests of Christ Church.”
The same allegation of sexual harassment was considered by the Church of England under the Clergy Discipline Measure. The decision taken by Dame Sarah Asplin, President of Tribunals, was not to refer the case to a church tribunal in addition to Christ Church’s own inquiry. Dame Sarah stated, “When arriving at this conclusion I also take into account that Christ Church itself has instigated its own inquiry into the incident. It seems to me therefore, that there is another means of redress which is a more proportionate means of addressing alleged incidents.”
A spokesperson for Christ Church said:
“Christ Church unequivocally condemns sexual harassment in any form. It has been clearly stated by both Sir Wyn Williams and Dame Sarah Asplin that a Christ Church disciplinary tribunal is the right place for this allegation to be considered thoroughly. We continue to be appalled at attempts in the media and online to discredit the complainant, question her motives, and to prejudge the proper process. For the sake of all concerned, including the complainant, the respondent, and everyone within our community, the tribunal should now be allowed to take place and reach a conclusion without further external pressure.”
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The Prime Minister’s Office announced the names of the next Bishops of Birkenhead and Stockport yesterday; the press releases are copied below. These are the two suffragan sees in the Diocese of Chester and there are more details on the diocesan website.
Update – The Diocese of Rochester has published this article about Archdeacon Julie Conalty: Survivors and campaigners of Church-context abuse welcome newly appointed Bishop of Birkenhead as “powerful advocate for survivors of abuse.”
Appointment of Suffragan Bishop of Stockport: 27 May 2021
The Queen has approved the nomination of The Reverend Canon Samuel Corley BA MA PGCE to the Suffragan See of Stockport.
From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
Published 27 May 2021
The Queen has approved the nomination of The Reverend Canon Samuel Corley BA MA PGCE, Rector of the parish of Leeds City and Honorary Canon at Ripon Cathedral, in the diocese of Leeds, to the Suffragan See of Stockport, in the diocese of Chester, in succession to The Right Reverend Elizabeth Lane following her translation to the See of Derby.
Samuel was educated at St Aidan’s College, Durham and Hughes Hall, Cambridge and trained for ministry at St John’s College, Nottingham. He served his title at St Thomas’, Lancaster in the diocese of Blackburn and was ordained Priest in 2005. In 2008, Samuel was appointed Priest-in-Charge at St John the Evangelist, Ellel and St James, Shireshead. He also served as Assistant Diocesan Missioner.
Samuel moved to the diocese of Leeds in 2011, when he was appointed Canon Precentor at Bradford Cathedral and Senior Chaplain at the University of Bradford. He took up his current role in Leeds in 2015.
Appointment of Suffragan Bishop of Birkenhead: 27 May 2021
The Queen has approved the nomination of The Venerable Julie Conalty to the Suffragan See of Birkenhead.
From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
Published 27 May 2021
The Queen has approved the nomination of The Venerable Julie Conalty, Archdeacon of Tonbridge, in the diocese of Rochester, to the Suffragan See of Birkenhead, in the diocese of Chester, in succession to The Right Reverend Gordon Keith Sinclair who retired on 8th March 2021.
Julie was educated at the University of Sheffield and trained for ministry at the South East Institute of Theological Education. She served her title at St Michael the Archangel in East Wickham in the diocese of Southwark and was ordained Priest in 2000. Julie was appointed non-stipendiary minister at St Luke, St Richard and St Thomas, Charlton in 2004 and became Associate Priest at the Ascension and at St Mark with St Margaret, Plumstead in 2010.
Julie moved to the diocese of Rochester in 2012 when she was appointed Vicar at Christ Church Erith. She took up her current role as Archdeacon of Tonbridge in 2017.10 Comments
We are currently (27 May 2021) having major server issues. We are trying to get back online, and have meanwhile restored this old version of our site.
[Updated Friday 28 May] Please do not comment on articles here — comments will not be approved and will be lost. We’re still running on our old server, but comments will now be accepted in the usual way.
[Updated Friday afternoon 17:27 and 17:40 BST]
We are moving back to the production server, Please refrain from making comments while this message is here. Any new comments will be lost until you see an update to this post.
We have now successfully moved back to our production server. You may notice some minor glitches (e.g. the number of comments on recent articles may be reported incorrectly, but the comments should be there). We will fix these shortly.
We apologise for the inconvenience.6 Comments
Updated 17 June 2021 – This Synod meeting will now be held online. Details and a revised timetable are in my post here.
The timetable for July’s meeting of the Church of England General Synod in London was published today, and is copied below.
Synod members have been sent a copy of the timetable with the following attached note.
Please see attached an outline Synod timetable for July 2021, which has been agreed by the Business Committee for a physical meeting of the General Synod in Church House, Westminster in the expectation that no legal restrictions would in place at the time (in line with the anticipated Government Covid-19 plans as per COVID-19 Response – Spring 2021 (Summary) – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)). The Committee has further decided that a hybrid session of Synod will not be practically possible in July though is open to the possibility in the future (should resources be in place to enable it).
GENERAL SYNOD: JULY 2021 OUTLINE TIMETABLE
Friday 9 July
12.30 pm – 7.15 pm
12.30 pm Opening worship
Introduction and welcomes
Business Committee Report
Racial Justice Commission – presentation
Implementing the Recommendations of “Responsible Representation” (GS 2202)
Climate Change presentation
Appointment of Body to oversee next stage of Anglican-Methodist Covenant
*6.00 pm Question Time
7.15 pm Close of Business
Saturday 10 July
9.00 am – 12.45 pm
9.00 am Opening worship and Bible Study
Joint Presentation by the Archbishops’ Council and the Church Commissioners on their Annual Reports
2022 Archbishops’ Council Budget and Apportionment
Leeds DSM: Wealth Gap
2.00 pm – 5.20 pm
2.00 pm 57th Standing Orders Committee Report (synodical processes for legislative business etc.)
Bereavement and Funerals during the Pandemic – Presentation
4.00 pm (approx.) Adjournment
*5.00 pm Living in Love and Faith: Passing the baton presentation
Informal items not forming part of the Agenda
4.00 pm – 5.00 pm Discussion panel – Clergy Discipline and the Nature of Ordained Public Ministry
5.30 pm – 7.00 pm Living in Love and Faith Group work, including closing worship
Sunday 11 July
2.00 pm – 7.15 pm
2.00 pm Opening worship
Special Agenda I: Draft Legislative Reform (Church Commissioners) Order
• Chair of AC Finance Committee
• AC’s Auditors
Mutuality in Finance
Responding to the Housing Crisis: What is the role of the Church?
7.15 pm Close of Business
Monday 12 July
9.00 am – 1.00 pm
9.00 am Opening worship
Special Agenda I: Draft Ecclesiastical Offices (Terms of Service) (Amendment) Regulations 2021
Special Agenda I: Church Representation Rules (Amendment) Resolution 2021
Vision and Strategy
2.00 pm – 7.15 pm
2.00 pm Report from the Implementation and Dialogue Group
PMM: The Five Guiding Principles
The Nature of Ordained Public Ministry – presentation
Proposals for legislation to replace the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003
Special Agenda I: Approval of form of electronic service register under Canon F 12
Special Agenda I: Diocesan Boards of Education Measure 2021 (consequential amendment to regulations under Canon B12) Regulations
7.15 pm Close of Business
Tuesday 13 July
9.00 am – 12.30 pm
9.00 am Opening Worship
Report of the Review of Clergy Remuneration
A review of the Mission and Pastoral Measure 2011
Amendments to Standing Orders for elections to CNC
1.45 pm – 4.15 pm
1.45 pm Special Agenda I: Vacancy in See Committees (Amendment) Regulation 2021
*3.15pm Service of Holy Communion
*4.15pm Prorogation and Dissolution
Church of England Funded Pension Scheme Rules 2021,
Legal Officers (Annual Fees) Order 2021,
Ecclesiastical Judges, Legal Officers and Others (Fees) Order 2021,
and some amendments to the Standing Orders
* not later than
Deadline for receipt of questions: 1200 hrs Tuesday 29 June30 Comments
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Updated Wednesday 26 May
News 25th May 2021:
Major research paper published
and Sheldon steps down from campaign to replace CDM
A devastating systematic analysis of data from the Sheldon/Aston research survey. This paper explores the deeply troubling territory around the edges of the CDM. The painful testimonies are a hard read but these are voices that need your ears. Anyone in ministry can get caught up in this, often through no fault of their own.
We hope it will impassion you to become part of an unstoppable movement for constructive change.
That movement for change will no longer involve Sheldon’s leadership.
We are stepping back now. We have given it heart and soul for several years and much has been achieved. Now we are in danger of over-stretching ‘real world’ Sheldon. Sheldon has generously funded this project in direct cash (£35,000), but in many ways the time and emotional energy has been much more costly. We don’t put a monetary value on our time, but time spent on ProjectCDM is time not spent with people in need or on other necessary projects. We have attended many meetings, written papers, collaborated with researchers, contributed to consultations by others and built networks. There has probably been some vicarious trauma in the mix. Bringing to light such deep-rooted pain has generated significant additional correspondence and pastoral need from those directly harmed by the CDM.
The church can look away but can no longer say it didn’t know. A complaint against a caring professional in a public role should be treated as a pastoral emergency. Clergy urgently need a system for handling complaints and allegations of misconduct against them that is swift, proportionate, easy to understand, presumes innocence unless or until found guilty, and is applied without fear or favour. It needs to be rooted in gathering of robust factual evidence and prioritise restoring relationships wherever possible. The administration of the process must itself be properly accountable. Reputations of institutions matter, but those of individuals are far more vulnerable in this context. A year after the bishops agreed that CDM should be replaced we have no evidence that the NCIs have a handle on any of this. This press release was published on 17th May but we have no idea whether the proposals considered relate to the heavily criticised Lambeth proposals of December 2020 or have already pivoted towards the ELS model. The lack of transparency is itself deeply problematic.
Do read the whole text of the Sheldon announcement here.
The Church Times has two items:
The Bishop of Beverley has announced his retirement.
The Rt Revd Glyn Webster will be retiring from his role as Bishop of Beverley at Epiphany, 6 January 2022.
The Bishop of Beverley is a Suffragan Bishop in the Diocese of York, and a Provincial Episcopal Visitor, assisting in the pastoral care of those parishes that have petitioned for Extended Episcopal Care under the Act of Synod – the Ordination of Women to the Priesthood…
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by Peter (a pseudonym), a survivor of conversion therapy
Updated again 26 May and 28 May (scroll down for updates)
The Church Times reports: Bishop of Winchester steps back after diocesan rebellion.
THE Bishop of Winchester, Dr Tim Dakin, has “stepped back” from work for six weeks after he was threatened with a vote of no confidence at the next diocesan synod.
On Tuesday evening, the Suffragan Bishop of Southampton, in Winchester diocese, the Rt Revd Debbie Sellin, announced: “Bishop Tim has today informed me that he will be stepping back from his role as Bishop of Winchester for the next six weeks, so that he can focus on discussions about future leadership and governance reform in the diocese.”
The letter gives no further details, but it is understood that between 20 and 30 senior church members in the diocese, clergy and laity, threatened to pass a vote of no confidence in his leadership at the diocesan synod…
Read the full Church Times article for much more detail.
At the time of writing this, the diocesan website contains no reference to the matter.
The Hampshire Chronicle had a report this morning: Bishop of Winchester Rt Rev Tim Dakin to step down for six weeks.
Surviving Church Bishop Dakin and Winchester. A Diocese in Crisis?
Gavin Ashenden Bishops who Bully – Reflections on a Safeguarding Scandal.
Church Times Leader comment: Winchester
Church Times Angela Tilby: Panic lies behind the Dakin crisis394 Comments