The Reverend Mark Sharpe has lost his case against the Bishop and Diocese of Worcester.
Gavin Drake reports: Former Rector loses employment tribunal claim against bishop.
…The Revd Mark Sharpe, former Rector of the Teme Valley South benefice near Tenbury Wells, alleged that the bishop and diocese had failed to protect him from parishioners in his “toxic parish”. He claimed a catalogue of abuse and bullying, saying his dog had been poisoned, excrement had been smeared on his car, and his tyres had been slashed.
The diocese rejected his claims and, at a five-day preliminary hearing at the Birmingham employment tribunal last November, argued that Mr Sharpe had no right to bring a claim to an employment tribunal because, as a Church of England parish priest with freehold incumbent status, he was an office holder, and not an employee or a worker.
In a reserved judgement, published today, Employment Judge Alan McCarry agreed. He said: “I do not see that within the complex statutory structure of the Church of England it is possible to imply that any relationship between a freehold rector in the Church such as Mr Sharpe and any identifiable person or body which could be said to be consensual and contractual. Certainly, Mr Sharpe has failed to demonstrate to my satisfaction that such a relationship existed with either of the respondents.”
The judge said the Church of England, as the established church, “has occupied a central position in English Society for several hundred years.” He added: “Despite that, it has no legal personality. It cannot sue or be sued…
Diocesan press release: Result of the pre-hearing review for the Mark Sharpe Employment Tribunal
Update Worcester Standard ‘Bullied’ vicar loses tribunal claims