We linked on 7 August to a critique of the April 2021 amendments to the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003 Code of Practice written by Gavin Drake.
More recently, Rosie Dawson wrote about this for The Living Church: Church of England Code Silences Victims, Critics Say (some additional links added).
…”These were significant amendments ,” retired barrister and Synod member David Lamming told TLC. “It’s unfortunate that they were overlooked at Synod because they seem to me to go beyond what the measure authorises, which is that the guidance applies only to those who exercise functions within the CDM process.”
The timing of the amendments has led several commentators to conclude that they were drafted in direct response to concerns about the publicity surrounding a CDM complaint brought against the dean of Christ Church, Oxford, the Rev. Martyn Percy, in November last year. In May 2021 the President of Tribunals, Dame Sarah Asplin, effectively dismissed the case, ruling that it would be disproportionate to refer the matter to a tribunal.
The complaint against the dean came within the context of a long-running, very public and very acrimonious dispute between him and the college and cathedral chapter. Supporters on both sides have engaged in briefing a voracious media. A dedicated website keeps Dean Percy’s supporters abreast of every twist and turn in the saga.
“It is rarely a good idea to legislate from the circumstances of a single case as, appears to have been done here,” says Martin Sewell, a retired Child Protection lawyer and General Synod Candidate. While he believes the motivation behind the changes to the code of practice may have been well-intentioned, he says the effects run contrary to free speech and natural justice. “Much speculative gossip about the circumstances ensued about the nature of the case against Dean Percy. I don’t think it was wrong to have refuted such gossip in careful terms.”
The Church of England would not be drawn on the Percy affair in relation to the changes to the Code of Practice, but said that there had been number of recent cases in which details of complaints under the Clergy Discipline Measure had been made public, causing significant distress and upset for those concerned.
One priest who has fallen afoul of the new rules is the Rev. Robert Thompson, vicar of St. Mary and St James in West Hampstead, London, who announced on Twitter in April that he was subject to a CDM for online bullying. In the adjudication he later received, he was reprimanded for “weaponizing” social media and forbidden from disclosing any further details of the case, including the outcome.
“Robert got the result of his CDM and was told there was no case to answer,” says his friend and fellow priest, the Rev. Andrew Foreshew-Cain, “but he was also told that he couldn’t share that news with anyone. And the instruction was couched in terms of a threat. It should really be up to Robert what he wants to share. He didn’t tweet anything that identified the complainant. The whole thing just smacks of an attempt to silence people within a system which everyone admits is broken.”
In a statement the Church of England said the update to the code was “simply to underline the expectation of confidentiality in clergy discipline cases, while they are ongoing. It said the Clergy Discipline Commission would respond to Drake’s concerns in due course…
The speeches concerning the Safeguarding (Code of Practice) Measure from the Bishop of Blackburn, Lord Cormack, and Lord Lexden are all worth reading. However, I draw you attention to this exchange between Lord Lexden and the Bishop:
My Lords, my noble friend Lord Cormack referred at the start of his powerful remarks to the passion and anger that he felt because of some recent events. I feel very deep passion and anger, as I shall explain.
I have had the honour of serving on the Ecclesiastical Committee for a few years, but I am afraid I cannot continue my membership of it. I can no longer support the Clergy Discipline Measure, in view of the harm it is capable of inflicting on innocent clergy caught up in sex abuse allegations. Doubts about the Church’s capacity to devise a fair and just system for dealing with accusations of sex abuse laid against its clergy have long been simmering in my mind, not least because of the terrible way in which the reputation of the great George Bell, to whom my noble friend referred, was damaged–and damaged so unfairly. But worry and concern have now given place to total despair; my faith in the Church’s institutional integrity has been completely broken.
Long ago I was briefly close, perhaps for no longer than a single summer, to a witty and clever Cambridge contemporary. He was a classicist who became a lecturer at Exeter University and later took holy orders. His name was Alan Griffin. In November last year, the Reverend Dr Alan Griffin committed suicide. After the end of the inquest into his death in early July this year, the coroner wrote a detailed report on the way that the Church had investigated his suspected sexual misconduct. She revealed that when he died, the Church’s investigation had been going on for over a year. The coroner stated that
“he could not cope with an investigation into his conduct, the detail of and the source for which he had never been told”–
I repeat, the detail and source for which he had never been told.
Worse, when the coroner probed the evidence against him, she found it was non-existent. There was, she said,
“no complainant, no witness and no accuser”.
The Church had acted on the basis of mere gossip and innuendo. Could there be a clearer example of the denial of natural justice?
And how did the Church carry out its investigation during the year in which Alan Griffin was kept in ignorance of the so-called accusations against him? The coroner states:
“nobody took responsibility for steering the direction of the process from start to finish and for making coherent, reasoned, evidence based decisions”.
And so the scene was set for a terrible tragedy.
The last element of the Church’s behaviour in this case which I want the House to note is very serious indeed. The coroner records that submissions
“on behalf of the Church of England … urged me not to include any concerns that may be taken as a criticism of clerics or staff for not filtering or verifying allegations.”
This is not from some shady organisation or business with suspect moral standards, but from our country’s established Church. These are the circumstances that led to the death of a friend of mine from long ago, and that is why my faith in the Church’s institutional integrity has been broken.
Could the right reverend Prelate comment on the quotation from the coroner’s report that I read out at the end? The Church of England seeking to interfere with the content of a coroner’s report in order to diminish the extent of the criticism it would sustain: is that not utterly reprehensible?
It is reprehensible and unacceptable. One of the big issues has been the whole matter of cover-up and trying to silence voices. That is a very clear example and should never, ever be repeated. I will report that back to the national safeguarding team and others. We are in the business not of covering up but of being transparent and open, so that these things can be brought to light and people can learn from them. It is reprehensible and completely unacceptable.
The report of the Governance Review working group (49 pages) has been published here. There is a press release about this, copied below the fold.
The Church Times has extensive coverage:
The Telegraph had this report by Gabriella Swerling on Tuesday evening (which has still not appeared in the CofE daily media digest): Church of England reveals huge overhaul of governance, as parishioners warn of ‘coup’38 Comments
The nomination period for this year’s elections to General Synod has closed. Dioceses are now required to post candidates’ election addresses on their websites before sending out voting papers. Some of these have already appeared, and the remainder should be available by the end of the week. I am compiling a list of links to all the addresses, which you can find here. I will update this during the coming week. So far as I am aware there is no similar requirement for the special constituencies.
I am also compiling a list of the members of the new synod here.
Additions and corrections to either list can be emailed to me here.8 Comments
News from the Diocese of Southwark:
The Bishop of Croydon, The Rt Revd Jonathan Clark, announced today that he will be leaving the Diocese of Southwark on March 21, 2022 – exactly 10 years to the day of his consecration as Bishop…12 Comments
The Rt Revd Alison White is to retire as Bishop of Hull in February 2022. There are more details on the York diocesan website.43 Comments
Press release from the Prime Minister’s Office
Appointment of Dean of St Albans: 6 September
The Queen has approved the nomination of The Venerable Joanne Kelly-Moore, Archdeacon of Canterbury and Residentiary Canon at Canterbury Cathedral, for election as Dean of St Albans.
From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
Published 6 September 2021
The Queen has approved the nomination of The Venerable Joanne Kelly-Moore, Archdeacon of Canterbury and Residentiary Canon at Canterbury Cathedral, for election as Dean of St Albans, in succession to The Very Reverend Dr Jeffrey John following his resignation on 31st March 2021.
Joanne was educated at Victoria University of Wellington and the Law Society of New Zealand. After a career in the law in Wellington and London she completed a theology degree at the Bible College of New Zealand, followed by graduate studies for ministry at St John’s Theological College in Auckland. Joanne served her title at St Aidan’s, Remuera in the Diocese of Auckland, and was ordained Priest in 2001. Becoming Vicar of St Aidan’s in 2004, Joanne took up the additional role of Chaplain for Corran School for Girls and in 2005 was appointed Acting Archdeacon of Auckland for the duration of 18 months. Joanne became Dean of Holy Trinity Cathedral, Auckland in 2010. In 2017, Joanne took up her current roles as Archdeacon of Canterbury and Residentiary Canon at Canterbury Cathedral.8 Comments
It has been announced from Lambeth Palace that the Bishop of Ebbsfleet, Jonathan Goodall, one of the Provincial Episcopal Visitors, is to step down and will be received into communion with the See of Rome. In the statement, Bishop Jonathan writes:
I have arrived at the decision to step down as Bishop of Ebbsfleet, in order to be received into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church, only after a long period of prayer, which has been among the most testing periods of my life. … I trust you all to believe that I have made my decision as a way of saying yes to God’s present call and invitation, and not of saying no to what I have known and experienced in the Church of England, to which I owe such a deep debt.
DLT has published a book, written by Andrew Graystone, about John Smyth: Bleeding for Jesus.
Religion Media Centre held a briefing this week, reported here by Rosie Dawson: Three moments of failure: sadistic barrister’s beatings could have been prevented, says author.
The churchwardens at St Andrew the Great, Cambridge have published A Letter to the Church Family from the Wardens, and Alasdair Paine has issued a 6 page Personal Statement. They complain that Andrew Graystone did not contact Alasdair Paine for permission to mention him.
The Church Times has published this news article: Welby should have done more to stop Smyth, says author. It includes the following:
A statement from the publishers of Bleeding for Jesus, Darton, Longman & Todd, appears unrepentant, saying of Mr Paine: “When eventually he reported the disclosure to his diocesan safeguarding adviser, he told her about only two instances of abuse — his own and Graham’s [the survivor (not his real name) who approached Mr Paine]. He did not tell her what he knew — that Smyth’s abuse had been far more widespread, and that he was still at large and potentially abusing.
“If Alasdair Paine had found the courage to speak earlier, John Smyth might well have faced justice. Victims in the UK might have had a chance to begin healing, and children and young people in Zimbabwe and South Africa might have been spared their abuse.”
We also wanted to take this opportunity to update you on the status of the Dean. The current situation is a source of great pain and frustration to us all. It will be even harder to comprehend for those of you looking on from afar, especially through the lens of public speculation and, at times, disinformation.
The Dean voluntarily withdrew from his duties last November, following an allegation made against him. An independent investigation into the allegation was commissioned; this allegation is now being addressed under the relevant House procedures. We are sure that you will understand that due confidentiality is essential in such a matter.
In addition, the Dean has made a number of employment tribunal claims against Christ Church, which the House is defending. Sadly, these will now not be heard in court until 2023. It had been anticipated that, through mediation, a much earlier resolution could be reached but unfortunately the current phase of mediation was halted by the independent mediator earlier in the summer, after several months of negotiation.
Christ Church remains committed to a full review of its governance structures in due course, but this cannot take place until the Employment Tribunal has concluded. We understand there may be frustration at the amount of time these various processes are taking, but they must be allowed to run their proper course. In the meantime, Governing Body is continually reviewing and updating our policies and procedures to support the smooth running of Christ Church.
Updated Tuesday evening
Church Times report: Diocese of London accepts coroner’s list of failings in Fr Griffin case
This PDF version may be easier to read: Submission to Coroner Fr Alan Griffin
Response by the Diocese of London and Lambeth Palace to the Regulation 28 Report (9 July 2021) to the Church of England in relation to the death by suicide of Fr Alan Griffin on 8 November 2020
The Diocese of London and Lambeth Palace wish to thank the Coroner for writing to the Archbishop of Canterbury and bringing to our attention the various matters of concern that were prompted by her investigation into the tragic death of Father Alan Griffin.
Those concerns have been shared with and considered carefully by the various Church Institutions. We have formed a Case Steering Group, with representatives including the Diocese of London, the National Safeguarding Team (NST), Lambeth Palace, and an independent professional member of the Diocese of London’s Safeguarding Steering Group to oversee both this response and our next steps.
This report is our collective response on behalf of the Church of England to your Report to Prevent Future Deaths dated 9 July 2021, in accordance with the provisions of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009.
The Diocese of London and Lambeth Palace express their deep regret and sorrow at the death of Fr Alan Griffin. We acknowledge that there were either poor processes or systems, or mistakes, that led to unreasonable pressures on Fr Alan and we take responsibility for what went wrong. This response is prepared to assure the Chief Coroner of the Diocese’s commitment to change, ongoing learning and improvement.
We will seek to respond to the key points that have been raised by the Coroner in criticism of the Diocese of London’s handling of the concerns relating to Fr Alan, to set out current and future actions to improve our handling of conduct and safeguarding concerns, and to set out measures to mitigate the risk of any future suicide by someone who is the subject of such concerns within the Church of England.
We are also committed to undertaking a Lessons Learned Review and implementing any necessary actions (see section 5).
We are committed to doing whatever we can in partnership with our colleagues in the Roman Catholic Church to improve our joint management of matters that affect people within both our Churches.
We had already made a Serious Incident Report to the Charity Commission, and this has been updated since the publication of the R28 Report.
As a result of the concerns that the Coroner raised in her report, we have revised the terms of reference initially proposed for the Lessons Learned Review and have taken steps towards appointing an experienced, independent reviewer, not previously known to or associated with the Diocese of London, who is able to give rigorous external scrutiny to the safeguarding systems and processes of the Diocese of London as applied in this case.
To ensure good process, we have consulted the independent professional members of the Diocese of London’s Safeguarding Steering Group (part of the governance of the Diocese of London) and are engaging with the close family and friends of Fr Griffin who were registered as Interested Parties for the purposes of the Inquest, about these Terms of Reference.
We aim to agree the Terms of Reference by early September with the intention of the Lessons Learned Review (“the Review”) beginning in September 2021. The purpose and objectives of the Review are currently as follows:
The full Terms of Reference (subject to consultation) will be published on the Diocese of London website when consultations are complete (anticipated early September 2021).
The report continues at very great length to describe initial actions taken, actions being taken at national level by the National Safeguarding Team, and responses to the coroner’s specific criticisms. Read the whole document to understand the detailed level of these responses. It concludes with this explanation on one particular point:
I then received submissions on behalf of the Church of England regarding any prevention of future deaths report. These submissions impressed upon me that referrals to child protection and safeguarding professionals must not be reduced and urged me not to include any concerns that may be taken as a criticism of clerics or staff for not filtering or verifying allegation.
The aim of making this submission to the Coroner was not to deflect criticism away from clergy or staff if they had acted inappropriately. It was made in the context of the IICSA recommendations and in the light of existing House of Bishop’s Guidance to the clergy that state that clergy must refer all safeguarding concerns or allegations to the Diocesan Safeguarding Team in the first instance and in any event within 24 hours (see 6, above). This is to ensure untrained clergy are not investigating or using their own judgement, and to establish consistency of process. We believe that our clergy and staff acted in accordance with this Guidance and we were concerned that any criticism of them for following it might deter others from the appropriate reporting of safeguarding concerns
Our submission, therefore, was intended to ask the Coroner to bear in mind when making her findings that all clergy and staff are obliged to follow this Guidance. The Guidance is clear that it is inappropriate for clergy and staff to filter or investigate any apparent or alleged safeguarding related concerns and instructs them to refer these directly to safeguarding professionals. The Church of England has worked hard to ensure that all clergy and staff are clear about their reporting obligations. We were and are keen that this good work is not undermined.
For completeness the relevant Diocese of London submission is included here:
If, despite these submissions, the learned coroner remains minded to issue a regulation 28 report, she is urged not to include any concerns that may be taken as a criticism of clerics or staff for not filtering or verifying allegations. The learned Coroner has heard that the events in question took place in the context of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA). The purpose of the Inquiry, as set out in its terms of reference, is to consider the extent to which State and non-State institutions have failed in their duty of care to protect children from sexual abuse and exploitation. The Diocese of London is deeply committed to child protection and wishes to avoid anything that may have the unintended consequences of reducing referrals to child protection and safeguarding professionals.
At the bottom of the document the following list of names appears:
Case Steering Group:
Richard Gough, General Secretary of the Diocese of London
Joanne Grenfell, Bishop of Stepney
Zena Marshall, Interim National Director of Safeguarding
Tim Thornton, Bishop at Lambeth (alternate Richard Sudworth)
Tim Bishop, independent member of the London Diocesan Safeguarding Steering Group
Date: 24 August 2021
On Friday, the Titus Trust published Documents relating to the Titus Trust’s response to John Smyth’s abuse with the following preamble:
We believe that it is vital for the truth to be made known in a case like this and that this is especially important for those who have suffered so much harm. So in the interests of seeking to be wholly transparent about the role and actions of the Trust during the period in question, and given the delay in the publication of Keith Makin’s review, we are now publishing a timeline showing when the Trust became aware of John Smyth’s actions, how much we knew and how we responded. We are also providing answers to questions and allegations that have been raised about these matters in this document. It is our prayer that this will be helpful to all who have been involved in this tragic case.
The actual documents are all contained in this pdf. There are three parts:
The Church Times carries a news report by Madeleine Davies: Titus Trust: ‘This is what we knew of John Smyth’s abuse, and when we knew it’. And also Titus Trust timeline: a digest.
The Guardian has also covered this: ‘Bleeding for Jesus’: book tells story of QC who pitilessly abused young men (scroll down for reference to Titus Trust statement)
A statement in response to Titus Trust has been issued by survivors, the full text of which is also copied below. (more…)23 Comments
Bishop Christine announces the date of her retirement
The Right Reverend Christine Hardman, after six years as Bishop of Newcastle, has announced that she is to retire from her role at the end of November.
Bishop Christine, the 12th Bishop of Newcastle, said: “I am reaching my 70th birthday at the end of August and my time as Bishop of Newcastle is drawing to a close. Her Majesty the Queen has graciously accepted my resignation, and with the Archbishop of York’s permission I will be stepping down as Bishop of Newcastle on 30th November, 2021…119 Comments
The Church Times has this report by Madeleine Davies: ‘Save the Parish’ campaigners have Synod in their sights.
A CAMPAIGN to elect members to the General Synod under a “Save the Parish” banner was launched in London on Tuesday evening, with a warning that this was “the last chance to save the system that has defined Christianity in this country for 1000 years”. The move was welcomed by a Church of England spokesman.
In his remarks at the campaign launch, in St Bartholomew the Great, Smithfield, in London, the Rector, the Revd Marcus Walker, spoke of the need for a “co-ordinated campaign” that would unite Anglicans across traditions, transcending debates about women’s ordination and same-sex marriage…
There is a video recording of the launch event, which you can view here. The keynote speakers were Alison Milbank and Stephen Trott.
And there is an embryonic website.131 Comments
The Dean of St Paul’s, the Very Revd Dr David Ison, has announced his intention to retire in September 2022. Dr David Ison will be 68, and will have served at the Cathedral for ten years.24 Comments
Press release from the Church of England
Update on Smyth Review
An update on timing for the Smyth Review from the National Safeguarding Team:
For the survivors and victims of the appalling abuse by Smyth it is vital this review is done thoroughly but we have also taken very seriously their concerns on timing. Due to the ongoing high volume of information coming into the reviewers, following the recent publication of an executive summary and statements relating to Smyth, it has been agreed that the deadline for submission of evidence will now be September 30. The reviewers will then compile data and timelines and set up any further meetings before writing up their report. This will be followed by a representation process once the report has been completed, publication is expected in 2022.
We apologise for the length of time this has taken, while some meetings were delayed by COVID the reviewers have also been dealing with an exceptionally high volume of information which has needed looking into; this has included harrowing testimonies from survivors and victims and we thank them for their courage and willingness to participate.
After the deadline of September 30 arrangements will be made by the reviewers to listen to any further survivors and victims, or those who have other information, who wish to come forward to share their experiences in a supported and confidential manner.
Both the reviewers and the Church recognise that giving information to this review has the potential to be re-traumatising for victims and survivors.
Support continues to be offered; please contact Emily Denne at firstname.lastname@example.org
Anyone who would like to come forward and share information please do contact the independent reviewer Keith Makin email@example.com Comments
Press release from the Church of England
Alan Smith announced as next First Church Estates Commissioner
Alan Smith, Senior Advisor – ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) Risk and Inclusion, and former Global Head of Risk Strategy at HSBC, is to be the next First Church Estates Commissioner, Downing Street announced today. Alan has also been a Church Commissioner since 2018.
The First Church Estates Commissioner chairs the Church Commissioners’ Assets Committee, a statutory committee responsible for the strategic management of the Church Commissioners’ £9.2 billion investment portfolio.
The House of Bishops met on Monday 26th of July 2021 via Zoom
The House of Bishops met on Monday 26th of July as the final meeting prior to the summer break.
Following a number of procedural items, the House reflected on the July Synod and looked forward towards the next quinquennium. The Clerk to the Synod addressed the House as to whether it might be necessary for the Synod to meet more frequently in 2022 or 2023, for reasons including the substantive work arising out of the Emerging Church work.
The House then turned its attention to potential implications for Anglican – Methodist LEPs and ecumenical relations following the decision of the July Methodist Conference to permit same-sex marriages to take place in Methodist churches. The Secretary General addressed the House, as did the Enabling Officer for the LLF project and Next Steps Group. The House agreed to seek advice on the matter from the Episcopal Reference Group of the Faith and Order Commission, with the House noting the need also to engage with the Archbishops’ Council.
The Bishop of Huddersfield, in his capacity as the lead bishop for safeguarding then updated the House on the Safeguarding National Casework Management System. The House agreed additional steps to help the project become more fully embedded in dioceses, with the National Safeguarding Team available for discussions regarding any particular concerns or issues for dioceses.
The Archbishops’ Adviser on Racial Justice then addressed the House on the next stage of the Commission of Racial Justice, commissioned by both Archbishops. The House was updated and invited to note the progress outlined so far towards implementing the recommendations from the Lament to Action report. In addition, the House also noted and commented upon the draft terms of reference for the Commission on Racial Justice.
The Bishop of London, in her capacity as Chair of the Recovery Group (now concluded) then updated the House on what is now permissible since 19th of July and confirmed that she and her colleagues will continue to monitor the Covid-19 situation carefully as it continues to evolve.
The Archbishop of York then briefly updated the House on the Vision and Strategy workstream of the Emerging Church work. This was followed by the Bishop of Leeds who spoke to the Governance Reviews Group’s (GRG) work and report. The House noted the progress made to date, with the full report of the GRG to be presented and discussed at the September College of Bishops.
The meeting concluded with the Archbishop of York giving a blessing.16 Comments
Two statements have been issued about Myriad:
See also the interview with John McGinley linked in the previous article.
All of this is discussed in great detail by Madeleine Davies in the Church Times:
Priests and bishops a ‘given’ in Myriad’s vision for lay-led churches.
Readers will recall the case of Canon Paul Overend, Chancellor of Lincoln Cathedral which we reported on 14 June, Safeguarding process finally concluded for Lincoln Canon. As we noted then, he had been acquitted of any criminal charge by a Cardiff jury in December last year. But it now transpires that there was no legal basis for any subsequent action under the Clergy Discipline Measure which took over five months to conclude.
The situation is fully explained in this CDM Overend Note from the Deputy President of Tribunals, dated 6 July.
The Church Times has a full report here: Lincoln CDM was out of order, judge admits concluding as follows:
…Canon Overend was suspended for more than two years, and spoke in June about how he and his wife had contemplated suicide (News, 14 June). Bishop Lowson was suspended for 20 months, finally being allowed back to work in February after an apology (News, 1 February). Archbishop Welby said then: “We have both agreed that there are many lessons we and the Church need to learn from this very difficult season.” It is understood that a formal investigation of the whole Lincoln saga has been initiated.
Canon Overend said on Monday: “I am unable to comment at present, as an independent investigation has now begun into the handling of events at Lincoln, following the complaints submitted by my wife and others. This investigation is likely to take some months.”