Thinking Anglicans

CDM complaint against Dean of Christ Church dismissed

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.”

Updates

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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David Lamming
David Lamming
3 months ago

The President of Tribunals, Dame Sarah Asplin has adjudged, for the reasons set out in paragraph 10, that the ‘hair stroking’ complaint against Dean Martyn Percy is not suitable to be referred to a disciplinary tribunal. In effect, therefore, although she does not say so in terms, her decision (pursuant to section 17 of the Measure, quoted in para 2) is that there is no case for Martyn to answer. This means, as section 17(4) provides, that “no further steps shall be taken in regard thereto”: i.e. the CDM complaint is at an end. It must surely follow that the dodgy ‘risk… Read more »

David Lamming
David Lamming
3 months ago

Comment continued… The President says that she has “take[n] into account that Christ Church itself has instigated its own inquiry into the incident” and that “It seems to me therefore, that there is another means of redress which is a more proportionate means of addressing alleged incidents.” I think one must assume that the President has not studied the Christ Church Statutes and/or is not aware of what is proposed by way of a ‘second’ tribunal pursuant to Statute XXXIX, otherwise she would surely not say that such a process was ‘a more proportionate’ means of addressing the incident. In view of… Read more »

John Wallace
John Wallace
Reply to  David Lamming
3 months ago

Thank you , David for this clear interpretation of the failure of the CDM. Like you, I am so pleased with this decision and Martyn and Emma must be relieved. I hope and pray that the Trustees of Christ Church now come to their senses and begin to act in a Christian manner and drop this persecution. Perhaps the realisation of personal liability on the horizon might concentrate minds and maybe, some will feel that they should resign – like Canon Ward, for one.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
3 months ago

This is refreshing to read after the, frankly exhausting, Winchester thread. As David Lamming points out (and I fear that the implications have been missed by people on earlier threads about Christ Church) the Internal Tribunal is a procedure to oust the Dean and is not the grievance procedure which some have assumed it to be.

Linda Woodhead
Linda Woodhead
3 months ago

The important word here is ‘proportionate’. It applies not just to this CDM, it applies in spades to the several, serial processes of complaint that Martyn Percy has been put through to date. I have lost count, there have been so many. But this is the issue: the use of process to harm. Martyn has been subject to the double (if not multiple) jeopardy of being ‘tried’ by both church and college processes, repeatedly. The end is not in sight. Even though this CDM complaint has been dismissed, the CofE at national level (NST) may resume some ‘safeguarding’ action, and… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
Reply to  Linda Woodhead
3 months ago

This is beyond bullying, and it should be treated accordingly.

Father Ron Smith
Reply to  Richard W. Symonds
3 months ago

Any resort to a ‘Second Tribunal’ must be seen by interested onlookers to this ongoing saga as only perpetuating the culture of bullying that obviously has motivated the persecution of Dean Percy in the first place. Surely the University of Oxford must by now be fed-up with the spurious activitry of the Dean’s enemies and request that the matter be settled; and that the Dean be given a clear road ahead for his ministry to be allowed to continue without prejudice.

Kate
Kate
3 months ago

I disagree with people. I think this is a difficult outcome for all parties.
1. The Dean is left with unresolved accusations against him
2. Ms X hasn’t had her complaint investigated
3. In the light of Dame Sarah”s findings, Christ Church risks allies of the Dean complaining to the Charity Commission that an internal tribunal is disproportionate if the college proceeds with the internal tribunal

Faith
Faith
Reply to  Kate
3 months ago

Not quite right, Kate. The whole sorry saga has been thoroughly investigated three times. First by the investigator paid for, commissioned and with terms of reference set by Christ Church. Perhaps unsurprisingly, that investigation delivered what the College wanted. My understanding is that the Dean was not told that Winckworth Sherwood set the whole investigation up. That was only made clearer in the CDM. Winckworth’s have been litigating against the Dean for nearly three years. The second investigation is done by a specialist independent barrister under the CDM regs, and they concluded this was, even if proven, which it can’t… Read more »

Deborah Woudhuysen
Deborah Woudhuysen
Reply to  Kate
3 months ago

Ms X had her complaint fully investigated by the barrister advising the Judge, who has now ruled that a tribunal would be disproportionate. It was also investigated by the police who decided there were no grounds to take it further.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Kate
3 months ago

Ms X has had her complaint investigated, and it has been dismissed by the police and by the President of Tribunals.

You are right that the Dean still faces a Christ Church tribunal with its associated legal costs and risk of losing his job. And, given that this complaint has been dismissed and the previous complaints against him were proven to be without foundation, it would indeed be disproportionate if the college proceeded with the tribunal.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Janet Fife
3 months ago

Janet: These are the relevant words from Dame Sarah’s judgment: “There are two credible accounts. For these purposes, it is sufficient to conclude, therefore, that it is possible that on the balance of probabilities, a finding could be made that the incident occurred as Ms X alleges.” Kate is entirely correct in saying that this is not a dismissal of Ms X’s claim. The CDM was dismissed on the different grounds that the (ostensibly minor) nature of the incident made it disproportionate for the CDM to be tried by a full (C of E) Tribunal. We are all agreed that… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Kate
3 months ago

But, surely Kate, the internal Christ Church tribunal must be considered disproportionate by right-minded people when the only penalty which it can impose is dismissal of the Dean. Are people grasping that fact? It is not a grievance or lesser-penalty disciplinary proceeding.
I agree with your points 1 and 2. The dismissal of the CDM was that the (or any) misconduct was insufficiently serious to merit a full C of E Tribunal hearing.

Last edited 3 months ago by Rowland Wateridge
Kate
Kate
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
3 months ago

I didn’t say it is proportionate

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Kate
3 months ago

I’m afraid I inferred from your point No 3 that you were saying it was not disproportionate – which is not exactly the same thing as proportionate. Now I am not entirely clear what you meant. Let’s not fall out over such trivial differences. I supported your points 1 and 2!

David Lamming
David Lamming
Reply to  Kate
3 months ago

Kate, Ms X has had her complaint investigated: by (1) Kate Wood, the safeguarding consultant employed by Christ Church in October 2020 and whose report was included as part of the formal CDM complaint; (2) Thames Valley Police, who, in the light of their investigation, decided to take no further action; and (3) the Designated Officer, Edward Dobson, who carried out a full investigation pursuant to section 17 of the CDM (which included interviewing both Ms X and the Dean) and reported his findings to the President. The outcome is difficult because the malcontent dons at Christ Church seized on… Read more »

Fen Punter
Fen Punter
Reply to  Kate
3 months ago

I have to confess I don’t know much about the conventions in the Church of England, as I became interested in this case through academic, rather than religious, connections. There may therefore be failures in process that I fail to recognize here, for which I apologize. I am inclined to agree with Kate that this is a rather problematic decision however: Having read a few of the articles on this incident and, in particular, the decision of the President of Tribunals linked here, it seems that many of the comments above are proceeding from an inference — made by Mr… Read more »

Simon Kershaw
Reply to  Fen Punter
3 months ago

(The President of the Tribunals is of course “Dame Sarah” not “Dame Asplin”. Important to get people’s names right. Not trying to start a subthread on names and titles!)

Fen Punter
Fen Punter
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
3 months ago

You are quite right, thank you and apologies! Feel free to edit the post to correct this — it doesn’t appear I can do so.

C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
Reply to  Fen Punter
3 months ago

Thank you for this careful evaluation. I also find it difficult to reach any cold conclusion about Dame Sarah’s carefully worded judgment.

Gordon Lynch
Gordon Lynch
3 months ago

Very helpful to see the details of this ruling. There is now a very clear pattern of action taken by members of the College against Martyn Percy being judged to be without merit or disproportionate by senior independent figures. The College seems committed to pursuing its own internal disciplinary process, although as others have noted the bar for that would seem to be much higher than the bar that this complaint has failed to make through the CDM process. The impression is that this internal process – in which members of the College can finally over-rule any independent figure –… Read more »

Linda Woodhead
Linda Woodhead
Reply to  Gordon Lynch
3 months ago

In other words, Gordon, the tables have at last turned. Now it is Christ Church, the University, and the Church of England who are in the dock, not Martyn Percy. They are the ones who will be judged by what they do next.

English Athena
English Athena
Reply to  Linda Woodhead
3 months ago

It would be nice to think so!

David Lamming
David Lamming
3 months ago

Further to the reference in paragraph 4 of the President of Tribunals’ decision to the e-mail dated 7 May 2021 from Winckworth Sherwood to the Designated Officer (Edward Dobson), it is noteworthy, too, that Private Eye has named Alison Talbot as the author of a document setting out what Martyn may and may not do during his suspension: Eye 1548, page 38. This is a suspension by the Governing Body, not the Church. Readers of this blog may be interested to know that the conduct of Winckworth Sherwood (WSLaw), and Ms Talbot in particular, is currently the subject of an… Read more »

Faith
Faith
Reply to  David Lamming
3 months ago

David, is this really right? That this law firm for the Diocese of Oxford, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and half a dozen other dioceses, and also representing Christ Church against the Dean, actually attempted to influence the CDM against him? This surely makes a complete nonsense of the claim made on the Christ Church website that the CDM against the Dean was nothing to do with Christ Church. Graham Ward brought the case on behalf of the cathedral. Kate Wood was commissioned by Christ Church. Now we have Ms. Talbot trying to help or direct the CDM. Is this even… Read more »

Bill Broadhead
Bill Broadhead
Reply to  David Lamming
3 months ago

Ah yes. Winkworth Sherwood. Partners include one John Rees (Provincial Registrar to the Province of Canterbury and Oxford Diocesan Registrar). No conflict of interest there then?

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
3 months ago

A very basic point which, perhaps needs to be stressed. The CDM was brought by a member of the Christ Church Governing body with the approval of the Bishop of Oxford, that being necessary for it to be made by a person with a proper interest in making the complaint. So that there is no misunderstanding, Ms X was not the complainant.

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
3 months ago

It seems to me that the basic facts, from which Dame Sarah concluded that CDM is disproportionate, were also available to the Bishop of Oxford. This doesn’t reflect at all well upon him.

David Runcorn
David Runcorn
Reply to  Kate
3 months ago

Kate. This is the way CDM works. When a complaint is made to the Bishop, the Bishop and Registrar must decide if there is a case to be investigated. There was in this case. So the present process is to refer it on to the designated assessor to assess its seriousness. That is what happened. The Bishop was following the process required. Dame Sarah was clear something took place. The issue was whether it merited a full CDM tribunal. She decided it was not the ‘serious misconduct’ that CDM was designed to deal with.

English Athena
English Athena
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
3 months ago

Memory failure here, didn’t Ms. X write to the Church Times to say she was?

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  English Athena
3 months ago

My recollection of that letter (I haven’t checked) was Ms X saying that she had not been coerced into making a complaint: something of that nature had been suggested. However, quoting below from part of paragraph 1 of Dame Sarah’s judgment supports my understanding that Canon Ward was the complainant, and it is not stated that he did so on behalf of Ms X. This is equally relevant to a similar question raised by Dr Seitz. “1. The complaint under the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003 (as amended) (the “CDM”) with which this decision is concerned is dated 5 November 2020… Read more »

Susannah Clark
3 months ago

At what point does the Church of England hierarchy and, arguably, the Bishop of Oxford come out positively in support of Martyn Percy, and call out the (in my view) demonstrable vendetta that the Christ Church clique has been waging against the Dean? Frankly, any action at this juncture that Christ Church takes against Dean Percy will be seen by many as ‘disproportionate’, given that there seems an obvious link between their repeated attempts to get rid of him. Frankly it seems to me that they are not fit to adjudicate in any way when it comes to Martyn Percy,… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Susannah Clark
3 months ago

Susannah, with respect your comment rather misses the point that the CDM was authorised by the Bishop of Oxford, and we are told that there is an as yet unconcluded ‘investigation’ by the C of E’s NST. So I can’t see that your expectations of the C of E are likely to be fulfilled unless there is a dramatic change of heart which, of course, we can hope for. Perhaps that is what you have in mind, but the C of E’s part to date in all of this can’t be overlooked.

Charles Read
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
3 months ago

The bishop of Oxford had no option but to process the CDM – see David Runcorn above. This is part of the problem with CDM – if a bishop thinks ‘something happened but it is not a serious breach’ s/he does not have the option of holding a less formal enquiry.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Charles Read
3 months ago

I’m familiar with the CDM rule, and have referred to it on this thread! But we both know that the history of what happened at Oxford goes much deeper than the apologia for this specific CDM. Surely it’s now time to move on.

David Runcorn
David Runcorn
Reply to  Charles Read
3 months ago

Exactly Charles. But I responded partly because while many are declaring they have no trust in the bishops to take complaints seriously, the Bishop of Oxford is being criticised here because he has!

C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
3 months ago

Graham Ward, Regius Professor at Oxford, is the one who brought the complaint on behalf of the woman in question?

C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
Reply to  C R SEITZ
3 months ago

Is this correct? I would not have thought of Professor Ward as a stodgy institutionalist.

What a mess this is. All the more so, due to the protraction and the space it is occupying in our media world.

C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
Reply to  Simon Sarmiento
3 months ago

Thank you.

C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
Reply to  Simon Sarmiento
3 months ago

I see you have supplemented your comment. Is the implication that, as safeguarding officer, he is simply doing due diligence? Canons Biggar, Foote, Harrison are also colleagues on the Chapter. One wonders how splintering this affair is.

Peter Collier
Peter Collier
Reply to  Simon Sarmiento
3 months ago

Which would be the reason why the Bishop of Oxford will have said (as is necessary in relation to cases against cathedral clergy by s.42 of the CDM) that he had “a proper interest” in laying the complaint. It would have had nothing to do with the merits of the complaint.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  C R SEITZ
3 months ago

Dr Seitz: Like everything else about this saga, matters are not straightforward. English Athena similarly raised this matter and I have replied to her post above, mentioning that it is also relevant to your question. My understanding has always been that the complainant was solely Canon Ward. So far as I am aware there would be no bar to Ms X being a complainant in her own right – subject to the Bishop of Oxford certifying that she was a person with a proper interest and it’s difficult to see that he could have reasonably resisted that. I think it’s… Read more »

C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
3 months ago

All that may well be true. Central panel in the ‘narrative’ is poor Dean P hounded by nameless dons. I have inhabited the close quarters of academic life for nearly forty years. It would be useful to have a narrative in which a *concrete* explanation is given for why Canons, of typical liberal Anglican persuasion, are not allied with the Dean.

Andrew
Andrew
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
3 months ago

“I think it’s clear that the true complainant was the Governing Body acting through Canon Ward, not Ms X.” No, this is not clear at all. In her letter to the Church Times, Ms X wrote: ‘Had I not judged the incident to be inappropriate and extremely distressing, I should not have decided to make a formal complaint. I made this decision myself, under no pressure from any other person. To suggest otherwise is deeply insulting.’ While it may be technically correct to say that Canon Ward brought the complaint (perhaps to protect Ms X’s anonymity), it flies in the… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Andrew
3 months ago

I think you are mistaken, but I have decided that I must take my leave of this discussion. Dame Sarah’s judgment, not the letter, is the relevant document identifying the formal complainant. I’m happy to be corrected by any authoritative information to the contrary, but won’t respond any further.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
3 months ago

By way of addendum, might I suggest that you read the latest article by Stephen Parsons on the ‘Surviving Church’ website which explains far better than I can how the CDM came about. It has always been my understanding that Canon Ward was the complainant ‘as a person with a proper interest in bringing the complaint’. I don’t propose to comment further about the position of Ms X.

Kate
Kate
3 months ago

“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. ” – Christ Church
 
Given that Dame Sarah reports that Ms X was not perturbed, I am struggling to see how Christ Church can describe the Dean’s alleged conduct (even if it took place which is not proven) as sexual harassment. Were I the Dean I think I would probably walk out at this point and claim constructive dismissal in the basis of that press release.

Fen Punter
Fen Punter
Reply to  Kate
3 months ago

It might clarify things to read the letter written by the young woman who made the complaint (to the Cathedral at least — presumably prompting the Canon Professor named in Dame Sarah’s decision to make the formal complaint to the CDM process, and perhaps prompting the internal process in the college (though that seems to require seven members of the college’s GB to act collectively as complainants!) Ms X’s letter is available here: https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2021/5-february/comment/letters-to-the-editor/letters-to-the-editor but I quote a couple of paragraphs here as they seem particularly pertinent: “I was surprised to read David Lamming’s letter (29 January) stating that he… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
Reply to  Fen Punter
3 months ago

“It might clarify things to read the letter written by the young woman who made the complaint…” – Fen Punter

It might clarify things to ask who is telling the truth, who is seeking the truth, and who is hiding the truth.

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
Reply to  Richard W. Symonds
3 months ago

And who is twisting the truth.

Fen Punter
Fen Punter
Reply to  Richard W. Symonds
3 months ago

I am not sure I see your point — of course if we knew who was telling the truth about the matter here things would be much clearer, but that sort of certainty is not something we have available to us. We can only, it seems to me, investigate what information has been available to us. In as much as this should involve questioning the accuracy of that information, we would be led to the question the motives of those providing the information, I certainly agree with you. In respect of my own use of “clarify”, it seemed to me… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
Reply to  Fen Punter
3 months ago

“Ms X’s motive for writing to the Church Times seems clear…”

Your clarity, FP, continues to remain a fog to me – especially when Ms X’s Church Times letter appeared a full five months after the alleged ‘hair stroking’ incident.

Last edited 3 months ago by Richard W. Symonds
Fen Punter
Fen Punter
Reply to  Richard W. Symonds
3 months ago

It would be easier to provide clarity if provided some greater indication as to the source of your confusion! As I wrote above, Ms X’s entire letter is available at the Church Times, but I quoted substantial portions of it because they seemed particular pertinent to some of the comments already made on this site. The first paragraph I quote was quoted in order to provide Ms X’s own word on (some of) her motivation: Mr Lamming had written to the Church Times the previous week to argue that the charge did not meet a level of seriousness required for… Read more »

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Fen Punter
3 months ago

There is a very marked difference between Ms X’s letter in the Church Times and Dame Sarah’s assertion that Ms X was not originally perturbed. And I agree – a judge with Dame Sarah’s experience can be assumed to write with a very high degree of precision on what is obviously an important point. I think we can also tentatively infer that she is aware that the president of the internal tribunal is likely to read her decision very carefully – it being inevitable that it will be submitted in evidence.

Last edited 3 months ago by Kate
Fen Punter
Fen Punter
Reply to  Kate
3 months ago

I assume that the “president” of the internal tribunal would read her decision carefully if it was deemed admissible evidence, but surely that would only be the case if the report upon which her decision was based was also shared (perhaps after appropriate redactions were agreed). Is that something the Church of England normally does? I had assumed this would not be the case, but you may well be better informed than I am! The CDM website only seems to publish the final decisions on matters referred to Tribunals, and not decisions determined by a bishop or the President of… Read more »

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Fen Punter
3 months ago

Dame Sarah’s judgment comes after an independent investigation. I think we might therefore infer that Miss X’s initial response was that she was not upset, but that her attitude changed. The change may (or, possibly, may not) have occurred after she had spoken to others in the College. I note that although the alleged incident was reported to the police fairly soon after it occurred, the complainant would have had ample opportunity to speak to others in the College and close the same morning. The police investigation was carried out soon after, and the decision taken not to proceed further.… Read more »

Martin Sewell
Martin Sewell
Reply to  Fen Punter
3 months ago

David was urging a sense of proportion. In this he has been fully vindicated by the decision of the President.

Fen Punter
Fen Punter
Reply to  Martin Sewell
3 months ago

I have read David’s letter, and I think it is worth pointing out a number of things: Firstly , regardless of the proportionality David is arguing for, it is clearly to the detriment of Ms X, so I would think she is entitled to a right-to-reply. Secondly, by arguing on the pages of a newspaper as he choses to do, David shows little consideration for norms of confidentiality. While he may feel this is justified by the failings of the CDM process (which he appears to devote considerable energies to pointing out) he must at the same time acknowledge the… Read more »

Martin Sewell
Martin Sewell
Reply to  Fen Punter
3 months ago

There is no evidence that Dame Sarah spent any time considering the narrow terms of the Christ Church Statute. This is likely because a, it was not in issue. b the Statutory test is , if anything higher than the CDM test, c) she refers to ‘ redress ” for Miss X which the statute patently cannot give. The normal assumptions about good process do not apply to this peculiar institution. Miss X has no redress procedure under the Statute and the Dean no grievance procedure anywhere, something the malcontents relentlessly and cruelly exploit. Three things that you might usefully… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
3 months ago

At the very minimum, an immediate investigation needs to be carried out regarding Winckworth Sherwood [WS Law] – not just in relation to the Dean of Christ Church Oxford Martyn Percy, but also in relation to the wartime Bishop of Chichester George Bell.

Last edited 3 months ago by Richard W. Symonds
Fr Frank Nichols
Fr Frank Nichols
3 months ago

I find it quite depressing that the Church of England has allowed this saga to fester, and therefore encouraged this barrage of detailed and painful comments. Who would have thought that in the midst of our failure to offer the people of England “good news “in the midst of the pandemic we would allow ourselves as the people of God to be diverted by this nonsense. In the end we are called by Our Lord to bring good news to the poor, not to be preoccupied by the sad details of this painful case in one of the most privileged… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Fr Frank Nichols
3 months ago

Surely, with respect, your strictures should be addressed to the Church of England per se and the Governing Body and Chapter at Christ Church, not the readers and contributors to this blog. I don’t see self preoccupation (or self-aggrandisement) in any of these comments. On the contrary, they all express concern about the possibility, even probability, of worse things to come unless there is a dramatic change of heart or intervention by some outside body with the authority to act. TA exists as a discussion board.

John Wallace
John Wallace
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
3 months ago

Thank you Rowland. Those of us contibuting in horror at the unchristian activities of Christ Church against Martyn are responding to a very public injustice. That also is part of our witness to the Gospel – the oppressed are equally to be found in privileged settings. Fr Frank seems to imply that support for Martyn is diminishing our witness and mission. It is part of it and we all, lay and ordained, are committed to sharing the good news of the Kingdom as part of our calling. Luke 4:16 is the mandate to ‘let the oppressed go free’ just as… Read more »

Kate
Kate
Reply to  John Wallace
3 months ago

“That also is part of our witness to the Gospel – the oppressed are equally to be found in privileged settings. ”
 
Hear hear

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
Reply to  Fr Frank Nichols
3 months ago

“There are many ways of labouring in the vineyard of the Lord”

Gilo
Gilo
3 months ago

How casually Christ Church dismisses the latest blow to their project by referring to the decision by Dame Sarah Asplin as “any separate, external processes”….. despite the fact that the CDM was brought by a member of the Governing Body and driven by their own lawyer Alison Talbot of Winckworth Sherwood. (WSLaw)

It is quite the rabbit hole of sophistry and curated bedevilment.

John Wallace
John Wallace
Reply to  Gilo
3 months ago

Hi Gilo
Rabbit hole is the most appropriate metaphor to use for Christ Church, given that Charles Dogson had a very strong connection. There is even a door, named after Alice through which she entered Wonderland. (See Experience Oxford Website). Perhaps the whole Alice story has befuddled the minds of the Students – that is the only rational explanation I can come too. Perhaps they should involve Humpty Dumpty – it’s getting as surreal as that.

Gilo
Gilo
Reply to  John Wallace
3 months ago

Thanks John. Yes it is surreal. Curating is for galleries and art exhibitions. But this body has applied curating to safeguarding! I hope the Church of England will investigate the behaviour of its senior clergy in the Cathedral, and examine the part played by Winckworth Sherwood in the misappropriation of the National Safeguarding. The unethical conflatiion of litigation with safeguarding process must be brought under scrutiny, and should not be allowed to happen again. Scrutiny must be brought to the seedy business of the Risk Assessment document which apparently did not involve two people whom the college claimed it DID… Read more »

C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
Reply to  Gilo
3 months ago

“I hope the Church of England will investigate the behaviour of its senior clergy in the Cathedral” — could you explain this statement?

Charles Read
Reply to  C R SEITZ
3 months ago

Canon Ward is clocking up quite a record of bringing complaints against the Dean which end up being dismissed. There is a prima facie case to answer about harassment of the Dean.

C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
Reply to  Charles Read
3 months ago

The comment referred to ‘senior clergy’ and not a single Canon. Are you saying Ward is the source of problems? Biggar, Foot, Harrison, the sub-Dean are also Canons.

English Athena
English Athena
Reply to  John Wallace
3 months ago

And all before breakfast!

Mark Bennet
Mark Bennet
Reply to  John Wallace
3 months ago

I gather, though, that the rabbit hole particularly, was inspired by the crypt in Ripon Cathedral.

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
3 months ago

How is it possible the Church of England hierarchy is still allowed to get away with this with immunity and impunity? Why is the Church of England still determined that a “significant cloud” should hang over the name of Dean Martyn Percy – just as a significant cloud still hangs over the late, great George Bell?”

I am losing my faith – not in Christ, but in the Church of England.

Jonathan Jamal
Jonathan Jamal
3 months ago

One hesitates to say this, but a dreadful thought goes through my mind, when one reads about the whole Christ Church Saga and one looks back to Anglican history and the Crockford affair of 1987, though the two are certaintly not inter related, where this 1987 affair ended in the Suicide of a Priest. There is only so much any human being can take, Priest or No Priest, something will give in the end,something will crack mentally and I hope and really pray to God, it does not end in the same way as it did for Gareth Bennet, otherwise… Read more »

C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
3 months ago

Partly following on from Jamal. I recall visiting John Webster (Lady Margaret Theology) when I was still at Yale, in the mid-nineties, at his lodgings in Christ Church. He was clearly stressed by divisions and was soon to leave for Scotland, to be followed by Oliver O’Donovan (Regius). Two crown appointments, both exiting mid-career. It is a truism that academic cloister can be marked by divisions and infighting. Usually, the lines are theological or political. That was my experience at Yale, e.g. Often it comes with generational change of guard. In this case it does not appear to be a matter… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  C R SEITZ
3 months ago

Many thanks, Prof. Seitz. I fear that the Christ Church SCR has frequently been ‘difficult’ for at least 50 years. During the 1970s and early 1980s there was much unhappiness between some of those older dons who felt that the House existed to nurse a political and social elite, with the House as a ‘Pop college’ (i.e., one for the Etonian swells), and those who felt that the place needed to be more meritocratic and open. Many of these tensions came to a head over the admission of women in 1980, after the rush of 1974-77 (of the old colleges,… Read more »

C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
Reply to  Froghole
3 months ago

Thanks. The academic distinctions represented by (the late) Webster and O’Donovan are considerable. I remember at the time thinking how sad/peculiar if was for Regius and Lady Margaret to decide to leave for Edinburgh and Aberdeen. I was slightly ahead of them in leaving for St Andrews. The RAE has made something of a ‘musical chairs’ of posts, but Oxbridge was supposed to be immune from that…or so one thought in the 90s. I mention this only to underscore how, as much as things might appear to be the same, academic life has been altered by internet and a cultural… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  C R SEITZ
3 months ago

Many thanks. Oh, I don’t deny that John Webster and Oliver O’Donovan were/are very considerable scholars (and Prof. O’Donovan being one of the 60 or so elected to section H2 of the British Academy), and I used the word ‘most’ with them and some others in mind. Unfortunately, there has long been an assertive anti-clerical element amongst the students that considers the clerical element to be ‘inferior’, and it was perhaps even more aggressive between the wars than it has been more recently. Prof. O’Donovan had held his Oxford chair for nearly 25 years, and his canonry – formerly reserved… Read more »

ACI
ACI
Reply to  Froghole
3 months ago

Froghole, My comment was not directed toward any criticism of the scholarship of O’Donovan or Webster, but rather at the fact of their leaving two distinguished posts.

I agree with your assessment of the future direction of CofE clerical appointments.

ACI
ACI
Reply to  Froghole
3 months ago

As well, you may know that Hindy Najman is Barton’s successor as Oriel Lang. She is Jewish.

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  C R SEITZ
3 months ago

My observation after 30 years in higher education in UK and Ireland is that demands of the RAE – publish or perish – conflict with those of Oxbridge college governance such as befall a college fellow. If serious scholars seek fewer distractions they will be better off anywhere but Oxbridge. One consequence will be, or perhaps is, that (ordained) college deans are unlikely to be top class scholars, particularly since the laicisation of theology departments. In which case future Deans of Christ Church Oxford (who would want the job now?) are unlikely to command the respect of the Students. I… Read more »

ACI
ACI
Reply to  Stanley Monkhouse
3 months ago

For what it is worth, I do not believe this is the reason that O’Donovan or Webster left. Their publications were proceeding apace at Oxford in their day.

I agree that the Dean post at CC is fraught, for academic and clerical reasons both.

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Stanley Monkhouse
3 months ago

It’s not only that, Prof. Monkhouse, it’s the stipends too. They do not go far in either Oxford or Cambridge. Indeed, many dons now live some way off. I think of the CCC Byzantinist Mark Whittow who was ‘sweetbread on the roads today’ (i.e., the M40) in December 2017 and shortly before taking up the provostship of Oriel (a death reminiscent of Angus Macintyre of Magdalen shortly before he was due to take up the principalship of Hertford in 1994). Whittow presumably realised that anywhere decent in Oxford (i.e., Summertown, Headington, parts of Iffley, etc.) commanded Kensington prices, so lived… Read more »

Fen Punter
Fen Punter
Reply to  Froghole
3 months ago

Since you appear to be more conversant with Oxford conventions than I am, do you perhaps know if Deans of Christ Church are, by virtue of that office, Professors? It would seem slightly unusual for that to have been the case originally, given the role does not seem to be cut from the same cloth as the Canon Professorships, but perhaps it became the case at some point in the history that is sketched above? The current Dean is styled as “The Very Revd Professor Martyn Percy” (on the college website for example), but I cannot see how the entitlement… Read more »

NJW
NJW
Reply to  Fen Punter
3 months ago

KCL, listing him as Visiting Professor in Theological Education in the course of his being awarded a fellopwship of KCL: https://www.kcl.ac.uk/news/kings-awards-news-fellowships-at-graduation-ceremonies
A visiting professorship at Winchester: https://www.winchester.ac.uk/news-and-events/press-centre/media-articles/wouldnt-it-be-nice-university-of-winchester-public-lecture-explores-social-and-moral-values-in-contemporary-society.php
The KCL appointment has been long-term (and they, themselves style him as ‘Rev’d Canon Professor’ – not sure of the duration of that at Winchester.

Fen Punter
Fen Punter
Reply to  NJW
3 months ago

Thanks for this NJW! Would not the styling in the KCL announcement — “Canon Professor” — suggest the office of the Dean is also now a “Canon Professorship” (as others on the Chapter are) or at least that one can be bestowed upon a Dean? Perhaps it is also a change in British conventions on usage, it would be rare for a visiting professorship to entitle one to style oneself Professor.

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Fen Punter
3 months ago

It would not, because the four (formerly five) professorships are tied to stalls other than the deanery: Lady Margaret professorship of divinity: 1840 (2nd prebend), and hitherto at Worcester (6th prebend from 1629), and laicised in 2015 Regius professorship of divinity: grant of 1605 and 1616 (5th prebend) Regius professorship of ecclesiastical history: 1842 (3rd prebend), and laicised in 1997 Regius professorship of Hebrew: grant of 1630 (6th prebend), divested in 1960 Regius professorship of moral and pastoral theology: 1842 (4th prebend) The numbering of the stalls has since been shuffled around as three stalls were suppressed after 1841. The… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Fen Punter
3 months ago

Also, some chairs were just tied to parish livings, such as the Lady Margaret professorship of divinity at Cambridge to the rectory of Great Munden, Hertfordshire (now closed). Similar expedients were applied to other chairs which, ostensibly, had little to do with the church, such as the Regius professorship of civil law at Oxford, which was tied to the prebend of Shipton in Salisbury (Shipton was a detached parish of Wiltshire in south-west Oxfordshire, from 1617 to 1855) or the Regius professorship of medicine to the hospital and almshouse of Ewelme from 1617/1628. Again, it was all part of making… Read more »

Fen Punter
Fen Punter
Reply to  Froghole
3 months ago

I bow in appreciation and thanks to your comprehensive account! My amateurish investigations led to nothing as detailed as you provide. It is interesting that the Regius Professorships of law and medicine were tied in the way you say — perhaps indicative of how in that period the church and academe would have been much more closely aligned than they are at present.

I would assume therefore that the KCL announcement simply styles the Dean incorrectly? (I am unwilling to hypothesize that KCL has Canon Professorships given my previous conjecture has been so soundly demolished!)

NJW
NJW
Reply to  Fen Punter
3 months ago

The style of ‘The Rev’d Canon Professor…’ is no different from ‘The Rev’d Canon Doctor…’ each part of the style is separate ‘The Rev’d’ (ordained), ‘Canon’ (canon of a cathedral’, and ‘Doctor/Professor’ (holder of an academic degree/position). The same convention of additive pre-nominals applies to clergy who hold baronies etc.

C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
Reply to  NJW
3 months ago

Doctor/Professor?

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Fen Punter
3 months ago

Even into the mid-1990s many dons did not have doctorates (in the 1950s and 1960s DPhils/PhDs were still sometimes frowned upon as a German or American import). What mattered was that an aspiring academic get a college fellowship as soon as possible after finals. If a college lacked a vacancy, or if a putative academic needed to prove him/herself, a doctorate would be embarked upon, and if a fellowship were obtained in the meantime, it might be abandoned. So, even into the early 1960s a DPhil was a sign – and not a good one – that a don had… Read more »

C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
Reply to  Froghole
3 months ago

Interesting about nomenclature. When I was at Yale in the 70s all faculty, even the most published, were Mr. It was thought unnecessary to point out the obvious PhD. I suspect the introduction of Ms. brought about a shift to ‘Professor X.’ As noted, in the UK ‘Professor’ meant, typically, the head or chair of an area, as against Lecturer. ‘Reader’ was often a reward for publication when the ‘Professor’ was already in someone else’s possession. Indeed, when one changed schools, the titles were given up and one started over. So a Reader at school X might become a Lecturer… Read more »

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  C R SEITZ
3 months ago

When I was at the University of California in the 1970s, all my lecturers and tutors were called ‘Professor’.

C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
Reply to  Janet Fife
3 months ago

I suspect the (reverse) snobbery level was higher at Yale…

The faculty at my undergraduate institution were ‘Professor’ or ‘Doctor.’

Fen Punter
Fen Punter
Reply to  Froghole
3 months ago

I read a number of articles about the decision to create swarms of “personal chairs” at Oxford, and it seems it was at the time quite controversial. Coming from the US I found the sensitivities around the title surprising — many people are full professors in a US department of course, but one still has distinguished endowed chairs etc. usually held by those who have made a truly exceptional contribution to their field, so the system the UK seemed to be shifting to did not seem the danger to the academy some who taught me described it to be (though… Read more »

primroseleague
primroseleague
Reply to  Froghole
3 months ago

as late as 2007 I was supervised (postgrad) by a ‘Mr’ Don/Fellow at Oxford. Who had been Mr since getting his fellowship at some point in the early 70s. Mr X Y MA (Oxon).

I remember thinking it was nice work if you could get it.

C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
Reply to  Froghole
3 months ago

Webster had glorious lodgings. I used to kid him by asking, where is the bee-keeper? But of course the clerical perks are under adjustment, as noted above.

I know Bockmuehl is living at some distance due to housing costs. Williamson lived on a barge! (He may still do).

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  C R SEITZ
3 months ago

Many thanks, as ever! After Godfrey Faussett (Newman’s antagonist – there is, alas, no ODNB entry) was required in 1840 to switch stall, from the 6th prebend at Worcester to a Christ Church canonry (the 2nd prebend), the Lady Margaret professors were allocated the house off the east walk of the cloisters, though Peter Hinchliff had it until his death. Only the deanery is larger. There is a bust of Lady Margaret Beaufort in the dining room. Many of the rooms were empty, and several would be occupied by undergraduates. Essentially, it was a house for a substantial family and… Read more »

C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
Reply to  Froghole
3 months ago

“Only the deanery is larger.”

Kissinger remarked that people fought over offices and parking spaces, file cabinets, who had the best aspect…

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  C R SEITZ
3 months ago

In my day car parking always won the prize for the most rancorous discussions. Proxime accessit was bikes. The safety committee banned us taking our bikes in the lift to our offices. I said I would refuse to comply. The safety committee resigned en masse, Great fun.

Mark Bennet
Mark Bennet
Reply to  Froghole
3 months ago

Froghole, your comments about maintaining a social elite are rather depressing, but not entirely surprising – Christ Church is a charitable institution with a huge endowment. I am not sure that maintaining a social elite counts as a public benefit. Perhaps the Charity Commission ought to be asking whether the trustees are really working to maximise the public benefit of the assets and income at their disposal (within the terms of the foundation) – in that picture, the costs of this depressing dispute – large as they seem to people unfamiliar with the scale of things involve, are relatively minor.

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Mark Bennet
3 months ago

Many thanks. I should add that the reference to a ‘social elite’ was a foible of certain individual dons, and some considerable time ago at that (Charles Stuart retired decades ago). I am confident that it does not apply now, although it could be argued that Oxbridge exists, on the whole, to provide an ‘elite education’ through the sheer fact of its selection processes, and that this is arguably designed to generate an intellectual elite that will, perforce, become a social elite. We are 170 years’ on from Newman and Pattison, and we still haven’t quite worked out what the… Read more »

Last edited 3 months ago by Froghole
Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Mark Bennet
3 months ago

Sorry – 170 years, not 120 (typo)! Newman published his work in 1852.

James Allport
James Allport
3 months ago

As a member of the House who tries to bear in mind that things are usually more complicated than press reports make them sound, I’ve resisted jumping on the blog and social media bandwagon. But, notwithstanding the Williams opinion, it does now seem absurd that the Governing Body might press ahead with a full internal tribunal when the standard for removal of the Dean in the college statutes is so much higher than the standard in the Clergy Discipline Measure; and in the face of a judgment by a senior member of the Court of Appeal that points out the… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  James Allport
3 months ago

If, as a complete outsider, I may presume to say so, this is the most cogent and rational comment to appear in this prolonged and tragic saga.
But, as noted elsewhere, what is the real extent of the Bishop of Oxford’s powers, still less jurisdiction, at Christ Church? The Crown is the Visitor.
Although the Bishop was, of course, a party to the CDM, the Christ Church Internal Tribunals can hardly be laid at the door of the Diocese.

Last edited 3 months ago by Rowland Wateridge
Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
3 months ago

“But…what is the real extent of the Bishop of Oxford’s powers, still less jurisdiction, at Christ Church? The Crown is the Visitor….It is ‘his’ cathedral but he is not the Visitor in it. The Crown is the Visitor (of both Cathedral and College), but on behalf of the C of E William Nye has asserted that as a non-Royal peculiar clergy at Christ Church are susceptible to the CDM, and hence the disciplinary jurisdiction of the Bishop of Oxford” – Rowland Wateridge

Perhaps we should be directing our questions, and scrutiny, toward William Nye?

Last edited 3 months ago by Richard W. Symonds
Charles Read
Reply to  Richard W. Symonds
3 months ago

Why Nye?

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
Reply to  Charles Read
3 months ago

Because William Nye is the direct link to the Crown, and he [Nye] “has asserted that, as a non-Royal peculiar [with the Crown as Visitor – Ed], clergy at Christ Church are susceptible to the CDM, and hence the disciplinary jurisdiction of the Bishop of Oxford”.

The Supreme Governor of the Church of England is Her Majesty The Queen – The Crown Visitor – and a Royal intervention could put an end to this long-running dispute tomorrow.

Nye could make this happen but – for reasons unknown – he is not doing so.

Last edited 3 months ago by Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
Reply to  Richard W. Symonds
3 months ago

It is also my belief that William Nye could put an end to the long-running ‘Bishop Bell’ injustice

But again, Nye – for reasons unknown – has shown no inclination to do so.

It is perfectly legitimate to question this – but I don’t think the answers are pretty.

Last edited 3 months ago by Richard W. Symonds
Fen Punter
Fen Punter
Reply to  James Allport
3 months ago

There are a number of things which make it far from absurd for the Governing Body to proceed with an internal tribunal. In respect of the decision of the President of Tribunals, Dame Sarah ends her decision noting that the internal process gives Ms X an opportunity of redress. Were the Governing Body to terminate that process, they would invalidate part of the context within which Dame Sarah made her determination. That alone would give me pause were I to have the authority to terminate such a process. Secondly, the Governing Body are running an institution of higher education and… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
Reply to  Fen Punter
3 months ago

After reading Fen Punter’s legal justification for unjustified and unacceptable legal and moral behaviour by Christ Church, I am powerfully reminded of the wisdom of Martin Luther King Jr: “Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal”.

Martin Sewell
Martin Sewell
Reply to  Fen Punter
3 months ago

There is no requirement to attempt the impossible. A process started by a member of the Governing Body with advice from the Solicitors acting for the Governing Body who have tried and spectacularly failed to achieve any of their litigation objectives in support of the Governing Body’s bullying just ran aground – again. A second opinion from new lawyers might be prudent. The malcontents own the outcome. The action was disproportionate, is not a safeguarding issue, is not “ overtly sexual “ and was part of a course of multiple allegations weaponising the CofE procedures for malign purpose. The Charity… Read more »

Fen Punter
Fen Punter
Reply to  Martin Sewell
3 months ago

I note that the comments you make on this blog are somewhat more temperate than those you post on the “Surviving Church” blog, where you make plain your partisanship (and, it seems, knowledge which you should not properly possess). You are clearly distorting the facts in this case. For example, you write that “to quote Dame Sarah’s judgement misleadingly” is outrageous. I am inclined to agree with you, but you may be doing exactly that when you say that a High Court judge has ruled that something was not serious misconduct. A rather strange consequence of the way she writes… Read more »

Martin Sewell
Martin Sewell
Reply to  Fen Punter
3 months ago

You should assume that my colleague David Lamming and I have checked and double checked the status of the President’s decision. Its publication, duly redacted is perfectly in order. The only document designated as confidential under the Measure is the report of the Designated Officer. I have read the judgment. If the Malcontents had an ounce of integrity they would publish it in full on the Christ Church website instead of cherry picking quotes out of context. They should also publish the Smith Tribunal report and share the solicitors costs letters with all the Trustees. They don’t, of course, because… Read more »

Fen Punter
Fen Punter
Reply to  Martin Sewell
3 months ago

If I am reading what you write correctly, then it appears that you are saying Dame Sarah’s decision was redacted and made publicly available by yourself and David Lamming? While I accept your assertion that is “perfectly in order” in the sense that it is not breaching an explicit requirement of confidentiality, it appears odd, given you are not a party to the complaint, that you should take it upon yourselves to do so. It would seem to me more proper to allow the CDM process to decide to publish, or not publish, decisions of this nature. To assert Christ… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
Reply to  Fen Punter
3 months ago

It is dangerous to pass judgement (especially on others) while ignorant of basic facts – most of which are in the public domain.

Last edited 3 months ago by Richard W. Symonds
Martin Sewell
Martin Sewell
Reply to  Fen Punter
3 months ago

As Richard Symonds points out below , much is in the public domain. What you may not know is that the Dean was cleared comprehensively by the Smith Tribunal, the malcontents did not share the report with fellow Trustees neither have they formally told those trustees the costs to date or projected costs of the action to conclusion. They briefed that it was critical of the Dean (it wasn’t). When this matter began, they widely briefed congregation members that it was “much more serious“ than people knew. They likened those who were sympathetic to the Dean to those who supported… Read more »

Jane Chevous
Reply to  Martin Sewell
3 months ago

To be fair, Martin, mediation was precisely what Ms X asked for, and it was the Dean who wouldn’t agree.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Jane Chevous
3 months ago

The Dean was medically unfit to take part in mediation and has doctors’ letters to prove it.

MKD
MKD
Reply to  Jane Chevous
3 months ago

More that he couldn’t agree. It was widely reported that the stress of the continued bullying behaviours within the college (apart from any stress arising from this particular incident and its fallout) had taken a toll on the health of the Dean of Christ Church such that he was unable (rather than unwilling) to enter into mediation.

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Fen Punter
3 months ago

That’s like a nation state arguing that they have to launch a nuclear strike in response to a border incident because they don’t have a sufficient conventional army. Just because a response is the only one available doesn’t change whether or not it is proportionate.   There is also the question of the use of charitable funds. Surprisingly it hasn’t been discussed on TA but personally I don’t think the Governing Body should proceed with an internal tribunal unless they are advised it will more likely than not result in the removal of the Dean – that, as you point… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
Reply to  Fen Punter
3 months ago

I have re-read – and re-read again – Punter’s justifications, and can only conclude s/he is indulging in sophistry of the highest order.

This might persuade certain Christ Church academics so inclined, but cuts no ice with anyone of moral or intellectual integrity.

C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
Reply to  Fen Punter
3 months ago

I tend to agree that, ironically for those who view the verdict of Dame Sarah as favorable, she has all but assured by her final remarks that an internal process at Christ Church will take place.

Fen Punter
Fen Punter
Reply to  C R SEITZ
3 months ago

As I have been trying to point out all the time, I am not attempting to make any conclusions as to whether the Dean is guilty of the allegations level against, only that the claims that this process being followed in addressing them is somehow clearly vindictive. I don’t see any evidence of that, rather that he has somewhat better recourse to an external assessment of the fairness of the process than almost any other employee I can think of. That is not to say the process is not deeply unpleasant — for him and for Ms X — but… Read more »

C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
Reply to  Fen Punter
3 months ago

You have been trying and you have been succeeding. Yet, this is one of those affairs–now manifestly–where people have made up their minds. As an academic who has inhabited fraught zones, this sounds like one of those arena where personalities, conduct, perceptions of duties and remuneration, academic publication and c/v, the tribes of church and academe, are just not patient of resolution.

I was simply agreeing with the point you repeat again in paragraph 2.

Fen Punter
Fen Punter
Reply to  C R SEITZ
3 months ago

Thank you for this! Apologies if my first response to you came across intemperately. I fear you are absolutely right, this matter is not one in which all participants are open to rational discourse. I understand of course the sensitivity of it, and perhaps it appears harsh to enumerate Christ Church’s legal obligations, that was not my intent. It does seem important to make clear that the allegation itself would not, in normal employment terms, be deemed minor. Certainly, in many places in the US it would be grounds for immediate dismissal (and by immediate, I mean one might be… Read more »

C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
Reply to  Fen Punter
3 months ago

Not at all. No apology needed. A discourse carried on in a forum like this is tricky business. You are pointing out other, shall we call them, challenges as well.

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Fen Punter
3 months ago

As to the ‘two tribes’, there appears to a a degree of overlap between them, which is fortuitous, as it prevents this becoming a bitter civil war between clerical and lay elements (I suspect that the clerical opponents of Dr Percy are not unaware of the fragility of clerical residuum at Christ Church, and this might be a factor in their opposition). Prior to 1867 the government of Christ Church was a tyranny of the dean and canons, and the students (i.e., fellows) had almost no say. This was mitigated somewhat because the vast majority of the students were in… Read more »

C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
Reply to  Froghole
3 months ago

I simply meant different credentialing, c/v building, RAE demands, perceptions of excellence and how one defines that.

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Froghole
3 months ago

I should hasten to add that I am not suggesting that Dr Percy has failed to act with prudence and discretion. I don’t know – and wouldn’t presume to know – whether he has or has not. However, there is evidently a group within Christ Church which believes that he has not done so, although it seems clear to me that some of those people haven’t either. In any event, the whole saga has turned into some sort of Gordian knot, and I have no idea who can cut it in default of the visitor appointing a proxy to act… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
Reply to  Froghole
3 months ago

“In any event, the whole saga has turned into some sort of Gordian knot, and I have no idea who can cut it…” Try this: ‘Welcome to Cutting The Gordian Knot, where we believe problems that often seem intractable can be simply solved with the help of Scripture, Reason and Tradition. Alexander the Great recognized that he was not the wisest man alive and was far from being clever enough to untangle the problem presented to him by the knot. We try to take the same strategy. We are not wise enough to untangle the thorny issues of today, but we hope that we can… Read more »

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Fen Punter
3 months ago

In colleges in the USA, would a person accused of briefly stroking another person’s hair be immediately escorted from the building? Before any investigation had taken place? That seems disproportionate to me. In this case, of course, both parties had left the cathedral building before any complaint had been made. Nor could Dean Percy have been escorted off the college premises, since he lives there. As to separating the Cathedral from the College, it would be enormously difficult to do, if not impossible. Others here know more of the terms of its foundation by King Henry VIII and its statutes,… Read more »

Fen Punter
Fen Punter
Reply to  Janet Fife
3 months ago

It seems I may again have been guilty of a lack of clarity. By saying “in many places” I had not been thinking of universities in particular. In saying “grounds for dismissal” I did not intend to suggest someone would be dismissed without the allegations against them being investigated. Having said that, once the allegation had been investigated – which might be done in many cases in a matter of days – were the conclusion to be decided in favor of the complainant, then yes, the accused might well be escorted from the premises within the hour. My point was… Read more »

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Fen Punter
3 months ago

You are right that other religious and academic foundations, particularly at Oxford and Cambridge, have become more secular. But Christ Church’s foundation and statutes are unique in the UK. Christ Church college chapel is the only one which is also the mother church of the diocese, the Cathedral. And I don’t think any other college or university has the Queen as its Visitor.

As a survivor and an activist against abuse, I have to say I agree with Dame Sarah’s judgment that the incident, even if it occurred, is not serious enough to merit a CDM.

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Janet Fife
3 months ago

Several colleges, such as Oriel, St Antony’s and University, have the Crown as visitor, and she is also the visitor of the university itself. There are other educational institutions besides where the Crown has visitorial powers. As mentioned, the visitation would typically be conducted by a commissary appointed by the Crown. The question is whether the Queen would do anything but sign the mandate or patent appointing the commissary; I suspect that she would be advised of a suitable appointee by the lord president of the council (i.e., Rees-Mogg, as the privy council office has supervisory functions with respect to… Read more »

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Froghole
3 months ago

Thank you, Froghole.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
3 months ago

One suspects that Sir Wyn Williams’s instructions and his Opinion were limited solely to issues of legality of the Tribunal and conformity to the Christ Church Statutes. What was surprising was his saying at the time that some of his knowledge of the ‘facts’ came from what he had read in newspapers. Somehow this admission passed without comment.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
3 months ago

It has been suggested on another blog that I over-egged the pudding somewhat in a comment I made there, similar to mine above, about Sir Wyn Williams. If that is so, I apologise to him.
I am fully aware that nothing I say will make a shred of difference to events, so I can only remain an onlooker – a very sad one – at what is happening at Oxford.

Kate
Kate
3 months ago

“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.” -Christ Church press release
 
Since Christ Church have themselves issued two press releases in less than a week, wrote to Dame Sarah to try to influence her findings (email from Alison Talbot) and, it would appear, students are allegedly responsible for raising the CDM in the first place, that statement seems somewhat hypocritical to me.

Fr Dexter Bracey
Fr Dexter Bracey
Reply to  Kate
3 months ago

I thought I was alone in wondering how many times Christ Church had issued statements saying that they would be making no further statements…

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
Reply to  Kate
3 months ago

Beyond hypocrisy.

The staggering arrogance of power – and its abuse and misuse.

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
Reply to  Richard W. Symonds
3 months ago

A spokesperson for Christ Church said: “Christ Church unequivocally condemns sexual harassment in any form…the tribunal should now be allowed to…reach a conclusion without further external pressure”

Looks like this anonymous ‘spokesperson’ for Christ Church unequivocally condemns ANY harassment in ANY form – especially harassment [aka scrutiny] of this peculiar lynch mob of College bullies presiding over a kangaroo court.

Last edited 3 months ago by Richard W. Symonds
Faith
Faith
3 months ago

Fen Punter seems to have forgotten that the Dean is liable for his own defence costs in the internal Christ Church tribunal. Is this fair? I think not. The Dean has no grievance procedure under the College Statutes either, so his bullying Chapter and Governing Body colleagues can attack him with impunity, and with the resources of Christ Church behind them, against him. The judgment of Dame Sarah Asplin on any plain reading tells us that the bar of “conduct unbecoming” could not be hit in the CDM. So the significantly higher bar of the Dean’s complete removal from office… Read more »

Fen Punter
Fen Punter
Reply to  Faith
3 months ago

I think you misunderstand what I write Faith. I had assumed that the Dean would be liable for any legal costs related to his defense in the internal tribunal, since that would normally the case. Indeed I would expect it to be the case were any member of Christ Church’s Governing Body to have a similar charge leveled against them. Normally the accused would seek legal assistance through their union, and I very much hope the Dean has been advised to do so. If he does not have recourse to a union in this way, then the internal tribunal I… Read more »

Charles Read
Reply to  Faith
3 months ago

Do you know the bishop of Oxford at all? I worked with him for 5 years and do not recognize him in your description.

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
Reply to  Charles Read
3 months ago

For some reason, the Bishop of Oxford has muzzled himself and/or been muzzled.

Last edited 3 months ago by Richard W. Symonds
Toby Forward
Toby Forward
Reply to  Charles Read
3 months ago

His behaviour in the past is not relevant to any judgement of how he has handled this matter, which must be assessed on its merits. When stories break the neighbours always say, ‘He seemed such a nice man’.

Faith
Faith
3 months ago

An internal tribunal is not something you can obtain legal aid for. Insurance policies do not usually cover cost for internal proceedings. Nor do Unions usually fund individual costs in internal proceedings. There are members of Christ Church Governing Body who have always known this, and bet the farm on bleeding the Dean dry. The Dean’s reported legal costs are £500k, Where is the justice and proportionality of trying to break him in a second tribunal? Every member of Governing Body has a grievance procedure they can avail themselves of, safeguarding them against harassment and persecution. Not the Dean. He… Read more »

David James
David James
Reply to  Faith
3 months ago

Totally agree. What is so concerning is that there seems no-one with the moral fibre, sense of natural justice and sheer courage to denounce what is clearly an affront to basic human dignity. One might expect that someone from within the Diocese of Oxford, the College or University authorities or, dare it be said ‘further up’ in the hierarchy might just take that step without hiding behind processes, legal trivia, and anonymity’. Lawyers and prelates have passed by on the other side. Where is the good Samaritan? .

Susannah Clark
Reply to  David James
3 months ago

I agree with David James and Faith: if you look at the ongoing context, it seems clear to me that the Governing Body of Christ Church has been waging a particularly unkind vendetta against the Dean. What shocks me is the lack of backing Martyn Percy has received from people in the Church of England who could call out the repeated (in my view vindictive) behaviour of the Governing Body, but have chosen not to. At what point do you observe what I feel is repeat bullying and psychological harm, and believing this is being done to an ordained priest… Read more »

Martin Sewell
Martin Sewell
Reply to  Susannah Clark
3 months ago

Dear Susannah I have just written to the CofE powers that be reminding them that their list of abuses includes this one – 7. Complex – known as ‘organised’ or ‘multiple’ abuse, it refers to groupings of individuals and multiple perpetrators who use conspire to institutional or organisational networks to abuse, and this can include extreme gas-lighting, bullying, intimidation, harming etc.; it can often occur within residential communities, and can also occur in institutional settings, etc. I have asked the process for bringing such a complaint given that it extends in this case from the Cathedral to the Diocese to… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Martin Sewell
3 months ago

A very reasonable and important request in these circumstances.

Fundamentally, the Church (the Institution, and its representatives) surely have a duty of care for all people who have offered up their lives to live out the ordained (and other) ministries.

Thank you Martin, as for so much other work you do.

Fen Punter
Fen Punter
Reply to  Faith
3 months ago

It is correct that an internal tribunal is not something for which you can obtain legal aid, (which is what I meant in saying “the Dean would be liable for any legal costs related to his defense in an internal tribunal”) but normally a union would provide a representative to assist a member facing a disciplinary proceeding. However you are in fact making my point — this is normal in internal disciplinary proceedings, and not something that is indicative of persecution. The process he is facing is similar to that which an ordinary member of the Governing Body would face… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
Reply to  Fen Punter
3 months ago

“this is normal in internal disciplinary proceedings, and not something that is indicative of persecution”

It would help Punter’s case enormously if he knew the facts of this case.

Stanley Monkhouse
3 months ago

I have no experience of an Oxbridge college other than as an undergraduate at Queens’ Cambridge 69-72 when it was boys only, dons – as many Mr as Dr – were very much in loco parentis, and some like Sir Harold Bailey had lived in college most of their lives. The dons I saw then and the academics I came across and worked with subsequently in Nottingham and Dublin were as far as I could tell good people who wished no serious harm to others, many working assiduously for the welfare of students (pupils). I know I can be a… Read more »

Alan Fox
Alan Fox
3 months ago

I follow this busy thread with interest. We are all incensed that the GB are answerable to no-one (except the Queen?), and seem completely immune to public anger and innumerable negative articles in the press and are determined not only to remove him but destroy him reputationally. I have never understood the underlying cause of this animosity. Allegedly there is a “cabal” who just don’t like him , perhaps because he tried to be more than a “figurehead”. But with 60 dons on the GB, why has not a single one spoken out on his defense? 40 (I think) signed the… Read more »

Simon Bravery
Simon Bravery
Reply to  Alan Fox
3 months ago

Thank you Alan for this useful summary based on first hand knowledge. I find the attitude of the JCR disingenuous. This has had a massive negative effect on the reputation of the College. Donors are withholding their largesse which might have benefited current or future undergraduates. Money spent on pursuing these proceedings might otherwise have benefited them. I wonder if the JCR feels under pressure.

Alan Fox
Alan Fox
Reply to  Alan Fox
3 months ago

Just to add a couple more thoughts : So what on earth can we actually DO to bring this to some form of closure? I agree that if Martyn has, for whatever reason, and however unfairly, lost the confidence of the majority of the GB it will be difficult to resume his role , (not withstanding the outcome of his Employment Tribunal hearing later in the year). Everyone agrees a Governance review is long overdue. The GB refuse to undertake this whilst the stand-off with Martyn is in play. A way must be found to call off hostilities and start this… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Alan Fox
3 months ago

“I have never understood the underlying cause of this animosity. Allegedly there is a “cabal” who just don’t like him , perhaps because he tried to be more than a “figurehead”.” This is the mystery. The animosity appears to have ante-dated the pay dispute, which appears to have been the torch paper which lit the fuse. The ‘cabal’ (i.e., the current and former censors, who are the club who effectively run the college with the dean as primus inter pares) would have been instrumental in appointing Dr Percy. We are long past the days when the PM’s appointment secretary would… Read more »

C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
Reply to  Froghole
3 months ago

Leaving aside ideas about a soi-disant ‘cabal’ your reflections about changes in procedure could be relevant — with them came changes in perception. Yale had a University Chaplain — representing the entire university. He/she was a presidential appointment (following the usual consultations, etc). This meant the person was entitled to ‘be his own man’ and knew the President of Yale had his back. It also meant the appointment was very carefully made, for that reason. The Divinity School also had a Chaplain/Dean of Chapel. His post was vetted by the Board of Permanent Officers (all tenured faculty at YDS) and… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  C R SEITZ
3 months ago

Many thanks indeed for this insight. I wonder whether there is an additional dimension. My knowledge of US universities is very limited, but I understand that at Yale (and many other US universities besides) the model is customarily that there is a board of trustees (or Yale Corporation) which has a supervisory function. I understand that at Yale this board has existed since the Connecticut legislature first passed the act to establish the then college in 1701, and was affirmed by the charter of 1745 and subsequent legislation (with the governor and lieutenant governor of the state becoming ex officio… Read more »

Alan Fox
Alan Fox
Reply to  Froghole
3 months ago

Absolutely. The abuse of charitable funds was the core of the complaint to the Charity Commission way-back. Initiating a “Governance Review” was part of the Ch Comm response. However it has not started. The excuse has been “whilst mediation is in progress”. Hence the urgency to get this finalised. Although (allegedly) the Ch Comm have their best mediator working on it , after 12 months , we are no closer. I guess the problem is , how can you find middle ground between “the Dean must go” and “the Dean must be re-instated”. Hence the proposal to suspend hostilities (ie… Read more »

C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
Reply to  Froghole
3 months ago

I was simply using two systems inside Yale (The University as such; and a Graduate and Professional School) to illustrate different models of election and accountablity, given your comments on a change at Christ Church in how the Dean was chosen.

C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
Reply to  Froghole
3 months ago

Everyone comes to this with different investments. I do not know the Dean and have never encountered his work in footnotes. Yale Divinity School went through a very parlous season in the early 1990s. The Dean (a different role than at CC) was under fire and tensions were such that something had to be done. Yale President Richard Levin appointed a review committee. I was the youngest Professor on it, tenured in 1993. We met every two weeks for a year. Interviewed every stakeholder. The Dean was asked to step down. At YDS a Dean becomes such by election by… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  C R SEITZ
3 months ago

Very many thanks for that, Prof. Seitz! That is most interesting, and it underscores just how important it is to attain tenure. It seems to me that arrangements at Yale (and a number of other US universities) seem to be rather more rational and efficient than those prevailing at a number of British equivalents. I should add that the impressive size of Yale’s endowment (not far off double that of the Church Commissioners) is an impressive tribute to the effectiveness of the system of trustees. I’m not denying that there have been some superlatively successful bursars in British universities: Keynes… Read more »

C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
Reply to  Froghole
3 months ago

Being asked to step down was a hard knock, so the tenure bit was a mitigation. The Dean in question did stay on and teach.

C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
Reply to  Froghole
3 months ago

From my time at St Andrews it struck me that one thing private schools do effectively is develop alumni support, financially. That is much harder in the UK. There is no equivalent built-in notion of giving to your alma mater. State schools in the US have the same problem.

Watch however if top tier schools become too woke. It affects alumni loyalty. Not everyone has Yale’s David Swenson (RIP) raising gazilions.

dr.primrose
dr.primrose
Reply to  C R SEITZ
3 months ago

This U.S. situation has a lot of interesting complexity. The endowments of the so-called Ivy-Plus universities (the Ivy League schools and other top-notch private universities outside the Northeast U.S.) are quite large. The endowments of some of the smaller, second-tier schools, however, are not very large. Some are very low — and with little money and a nationally decreasing number of applicants, their future isn’t very bright at all. . The endowments of public universities also vary quite considerably. The endowment of the University of Texas is the third largest of any American university — largely oil and gas money.… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  dr.primrose
3 months ago

Many thanks. That is very interesting. I have read articles in US newspapers in recent years about student loans being the next sub-prime mortgage disaster, as so many are in arrears or default. Presumably, the public universities are vulnerable to the balanced budget rule which I understand applies to every state bar Vermont and (to a degree) Indiana. So, if state revenues have come under massive pressure – as they will have done over the last year or so – the public universities will presumably suffer accordingly (including the superannuation of their staff). As I understand it, the balanced budget… Read more »

C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
Reply to  dr.primrose
3 months ago

Yale Law School had already headed down this road in the 70s. I suspect UVA Law looked on with envy…

I am a BA graduate of UNC, my wife Vanderbilt. UNC doesn’t work very hard at asking for money, compared with Vanderbilt, because they know they are state funded (more in-state slots than UVA). I get hit up with real verve by Yale (graduate degrees), as does my BA/PhD wife by Vanderbilt.

Last edited 3 months ago by C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
Reply to  Alan Fox
3 months ago

“But with 60 dons on the GB, why has not a single one spoken out on his defense?”

A lot going on in this observation.

Martin Sewell
Martin Sewell
Reply to  C R SEITZ
3 months ago

Many no longer attend. It is a toxic environment obsessed with a project of bullying. It needs Constitutional reform. As indicated above key information is kept hidden and frequently the malcontents lawyers ( who have earned hundreds of thousands of pounds whilst failing at every legal hurdle) assure the timorous that there is no alternative.

C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
Reply to  Martin Sewell
3 months ago

I know you feel that way.

Martin Sewell
Martin Sewell
Reply to  C R SEITZ
3 months ago

What I feel is a sense of determination. I have spent seven years at General Synod encouraging the Church to take safeguarding seriously, treating all people respondents and complainants with respect, due process, proportionality and basic standards of natural justice.

I will not stand by and let bullies misuse the concept for their private grievance mongering.

In the early years it was victim survivors asking my advice help and support. Now it is clergy suffering the weaponisation of Safeguarding by people with other agendas.

C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
Reply to  Martin Sewell
3 months ago

That comes through.

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
3 months ago

And what of the ‘Purple Circle’?

The only thing that seems to matter more to them than covering everything up is that they must be seen to be right. Having chosen a wrong path from the start, they now haven’t even the grace to say sorry and back down.

Last edited 3 months ago by Richard W. Symonds
Susannah Clark
Reply to  Richard W. Symonds
3 months ago

I’m unclear what you think bishops have ‘covered up’ in the Martyn Percy case, Richard? And also unclear who you count as the ‘Purple Circle’ to whom you attribute cover ups and self-righteousness above all else? . I mean, come on, there are many bishops who have given their lives to God, and answered call, and who also (in my own experience) are good and decent and kindly. . Yes, like all of us, they are fallible. But maybe we should also look for the good in them, and pray for them. And through prayer, I think we may discover… Read more »

Last edited 3 months ago by Susannah Clark
Toby Forward
Toby Forward
3 months ago

It strikes me that those attacking Dean Percy know exactly what they’re doing. It’s a classic case of a siege. Percy is surrounded, metaphorically short of food and water, hemmed in all all sides by attackers who can strike at will and at no cost to themselves. The gradual erosion of his self-esteem and mental health is appalling. They, on the other hand, can sit in their tents, fed and watered, able to strike whenever they feel like it and then withdraw and regroup. As one assault fails they just wait for the chance to launch another. While for Dean… Read more »

Linda Woodhead
Linda Woodhead
3 months ago

I have read the posts by ‘Fen Punter’ with interest and they leave me with a simple question. Could this anonymous person please clarify whether they believe that (allegedly) touching someone’s hair very briefly in a non-sexual way that does not perturb the person concerned (and in the context of the hair being being donated to charity) is a dismissable offence? If so, under which law is this the case? This appears to be the nub of Fen Punter’s case, on which it stands or falls — hence my interest.

C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
Reply to  Linda Woodhead
3 months ago

“It would help Punter’s case enormously if he knew the facts of this case.”

One can appreciate that being repeatedly addressed this way might run someone off.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  C R SEITZ
3 months ago

In fairness, Linda Woodhead did not make that comment.

C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
3 months ago

I didn’t say she did.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  C R SEITZ
3 months ago

That being so, I don’t know why your reply was addressed to Linda Woodhead. I assumed it was a mistake which you might have wished to withdraw when pointed out. It seems the mistake was mine. I apologise to Linda Woodhead for this intervention.

C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
3 months ago

“…repeatedly addressed this way…” would not apply to Ms. Woodhead on this thread.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  C R SEITZ
3 months ago

Well, to me, Dr Seitz, that makes your comment expressly addressed to Linda Woodhead all the more mystifying, but we both have better things to do than prolong discussing such trifles.

C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
3 months ago

I thought the point was clear. Having been addressed in this way, it is hardly surprising that Fen Punter has withdrawn.

Further, in one note the individual is addressed as ‘he’ and in Ms. Woodhead’s we have ‘Fen Punter’ in scare quotes.

Fen Punter
Fen Punter
Reply to  C R SEITZ
3 months ago

Prof. Seitz, thank you for this. I did not intend to withdraw completely (as you hopefully will see from my recent comments responding to Linda). Largely my absence was due to the particularly busy week my “day job” handed me. That said, I am afraid I have found the tenor of a segment of those responding to my posts to be less than collegiate, and thus I will likely post rather less, and at the same time I have attempted to become better informed of the “history” of this matter. Equally however, I would appreciate any comments, in particular critiques,… Read more »

Fen Punter
Fen Punter
Reply to  Linda Woodhead
3 months ago

I think my answer to the question Linda poses is “no” but her conclusion that (any of) my arguments rest on it suggests that I am (yet again) guilty of a lack of clarity. Let me begin by pointing out that Linda’s question is phrased so as to presuppose a context which significantly mitigates what is alleged. It is possible such circumstances exist, but I am doubtful we can be as confident of them as her phrasing of the question suggests. Leaving aside that I am not sure what sort of offence one commits by allegedly doing something, I agree… Read more »

Fen Punter
Fen Punter
Reply to  Linda Woodhead
3 months ago

Part II:   The fact that Ms X went to the police also is worth considering (that she went to the police is mentioned in Sir Wyn’s review and Dame Sarah as noted above mentions her statement to the police, while newspapers report the police conclude their investigation and take no further action, so it appears we can be reasonably confident of this). The press coverage largely reports this in the Dean’s favour, but that is almost surely the wrong conclusion: What is significant is that the police opened an investigation. Assuming professional behaviour on their part, it follows from… Read more »

C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
Reply to  Fen Punter
3 months ago

As it happens, we had the University of Toronto 2 hour sexual harassment and racism training session last Thursday. (As a cleric and Professor I now have several of these to attend, including the CofE’s extensive one).

One of the cameo films involved an African Canadian woman whose workplace ‘superior’ stroked her hair and commented about it.

I think one of the issues is the degree this appears to be introductory to something else. The video made that clear in what the woman said about it. She sensed it was an inaugural action, seeing how she would respond.

Faith
Faith
3 months ago

Replying to earlier posts on this, suggesting that the Dean refused mediation with the alleged victim. As we have come to expect from those attacking the Dean, they lead with half-truths and silences. The Dean was not permitted to mediate, and told that it was a disciplinary matter that could not be addressed through routine harassment procedures. The alleged victim, besides going to the police, helping Canon Ward launch his CDM, complaining to the NST,supporting the initiation of the internal Statute 39 process, also launched her own Employment Tribunal claim against the Dean. Conciliation, not mediation, is offered by ACAS… Read more »

Fen Punter
Fen Punter
Reply to  Faith
3 months ago

I think I must ask, for a change, I must ask you to clarify what you mean: While you are correct that conciliation is offered by ACAS as part of their “early resolution scheme”, but a glance at the ACAS website shows that they also offer support for mediation — look at   https://www.acas.org.uk/acas-mediation-support   where it says “Acas can: provide external mediators advise employers on introducing mediation train staff in mediation   The alleged victim wrote to the Church Times to say that the Dean “has been too ill to respond to the CDM complaint and the College process,… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Fen Punter
3 months ago

I respect that some people choose to write under ‘pseudonyms’ for privacy and safety reasons, though I far prefer to interact ‘out in the open’ with people knowing who I am, and me knowing who I am talking to, and the contexts behind their contributions. Ideally, if I ran a forum, I’d make actual names mandatory unless the moderator had privately agreed to allow an individual anonymity after hearing the reasons why it was necessary. . Fen Punter, would you be willing to be open about any contexts or connections you have, with any of the parties in this saddening… Read more »

Last edited 3 months ago by Susannah Clark
Fen Punter
Fen Punter
Reply to  Susannah Clark
3 months ago

Dear Susannah, thanks for your comment. I am afraid that, for a variety of reasons, when I post on blogs I prefer to do so anonymously. While I understand the sentiment which makes you say you would prefer people to be “out in the open”, I think there is also something to be said for addressing the points someone makes on their merits alone.   On the other hand I think there are a number of things going on in this site which are not “in the open ”. Assertions are made about what has happened in various stages of… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Fen Punter
3 months ago

The facts, and truth, of what has happened and is happening at Oxford will be fully revealed in due course. There are several outstanding processes which are technically sub judice. Lord Asquith’s advice “Wait and see” is appropriate.

David Lamming
David Lamming
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
3 months ago

Perhaps you would care to identify the ‘several outstanding processes’ that you claim are ‘technically sub judice’.

C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
Reply to  Fen Punter
3 months ago

I have appreciated your clear analysis and capacity for handling belligerent attacks. The best part of TA is this kind of clear thinking, and the site is blessed to have several commentators who provide useful facts and history. In this instance, the level of ‘support’ for one party in the dispute is of such a nature that is renders impossible the discussion on its merits of a case of alleged sexual abuse. This borders on implying that Ms X is a stooge for the loathsome opposition and has invented her story. Ironically, there is something slightly ‘abusive’ about a lot… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Fen Punter
3 months ago

Thank you for taking the time to reply in detail, Fen Punter. I appreciate your response. From what you say, you appear to have no association or connections with Christ Church or any of the parties involved. Would you be happy to confirm that? With regard to Ms X, I don’t think the majority of people here think she was acting at the behest of the Governing Body of Christchurch. I share the concerns of Jane Chevous (above) that her situation is taken entirely seriously, and handled with objective professionalism and integrity. However, that’s where I worry about the role… Read more »

C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
Reply to  Susannah Clark
3 months ago

I look forward to your response now to ‘Faith’

Susannah Clark
Reply to  C R SEITZ
3 months ago

I don’t think we have to view everything as ‘gladiatorial’, Dr Seitz. I’m having an honest and courteous exchange with ‘Fen Punter’. I’d try to have the same exchange with Faith if she wanted that. To date she hasn’t. That’s her prerogative. I’m not ‘against’ either ladies.

C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
Reply to  Susannah Clark
3 months ago

Announcing it’s a good idea for everyone to use their names is its own form of ‘gladiatorial.’ And then requesting confirmations, etc. Let’s not get too sanctimonious. Grace and peace.

Last edited 3 months ago by C R SEITZ
Fen Punter
Fen Punter
Reply to  Faith
3 months ago

It also seems worth pointing out the implications of the final few sentences you write: You say that “if the act claimed by Ms X did not take place, the Dean can hardly admit to it”. This is a completely fair, but worrying, point. I had not appreciated it properly until I had a chance to read Sir Wyn’s review more carefully. He provides a surprising amount of information about the alleged incident. In particular, he relates that Kate Wood, the individual who carried out the initial investigation into the harassment complaint, found Ms X more credible than the Dean,… Read more »

Gilo
Gilo
3 months ago

If the taxi cab rapist John Worboys was bailed to Christ Church .. those risk assessments would need little change to them to be applicable. The Church of England needs to ascertain who prepared these dodgy documents, and who ascribed the names of Kate Wood (reviewer) and Richard Woodley (DSA) as signatories to the documents, when both deny any part in their creation. Why did cathedral clergy behave in this way? And has the Bishop of Oxford instructed this to be investigated? Presumably the Winckworth Sherwood lawyer Alison Talbot will know who was involved in drawing up these documents. She… Read more »

Faith
Faith
3 months ago

Prof. Linda Woodhead’s comment effectively deals with Fen Punter’s elaborate structured and convoluted reasoning, which is now exposed as having all the substance of a Barratt house built out of meringues. Prof. Woodhead has reduced Fen Punter’s wordy arguments to a rubble only fit for an Eton Mess. Gilo’s comments on the Risk Assessments are spot on. Frankly, the Risk Assessments are a scandal. They are they work of depraved and disgusting minds, and designed to deceive others and cause real damage. What is the Bishop of Oxford doing about these Risk Assessments? This is the Bishop who saddled his… Read more »

Fen Punter
Fen Punter
Reply to  Faith
3 months ago

I respectfully beg to differ with your assessment of Linda Woodhead’s comments (though the charge of having elaborate(ly?) structured and convoluted reasoning is new to me). I must also confess that I read this post after that of Linda Woodward, and so did not style her as Prof. Woodhead — given she did not use the title in her post, I hope this did not cause offence.

I would however note that her signature on a letter to the Church Times:

https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2021/7-may/comment/letters-to-the-editor/letters-to-the-editor

suggests she has made a rather more firm determination of matters than I personally find reasonable.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
3 months ago

Quoted here from a post today on the ‘Archbishop Cranmer’ blog:
”From a Freedom of Information Request, replied to in April 2021, Christ Church states that the expenditure on the matter of the Dean is £1,187,445.11.

“A subsequent response notes that this figure is for the period 2019/20 and that Christ Church is not required to provide the current figure because it is not held explicitly and would require more than 18 hours effort to obtain.” [The 18 hours is an exemption, paradoxically based on proportionality, in the requirements of the FOI Act.]

Alan Fox
Alan Fox
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
3 months ago

Many are sceptical as to the accuracy of the figure, with its odd inclusion of the eleven pence. With the Charity Commission breathing down their necks over misuse of charitable funds , some might be astonished that the GB have no idea how much they have spent this year hounding the Dean.The Charity Commission have warned trustees (ie the GB) they may be personally liable for inappropriate spend. They press on regardless.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Alan Fox
3 months ago

This information came here third-hand, but it was posted on ‘Archbishop Cranmer’ by an alumnus of Christ Church so I see no reason to challenge it. In any event, withholding or falsifying information in response to a valid FOI request is an offence. The inclusion of the 11p ought to be an indication of accuracy. It could easily arise, e.g., as an element of VAT. More telling, perhaps, is the claimed insufficiency of 18 hours to provide the latest figures. That suggests a large number of transactions or, less explicably, that they are difficult and especially time-consuming to locate.

Simon Bravery
Simon Bravery
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
3 months ago

That is a fair conclusion. If it takes more than 18 hours to work out how much they have spent, they must have spent a great deal.

David Lamming
David Lamming
Reply to  Simon Bravery
3 months ago

The two replies to Alan Fox’s FoI requests, dated 6 April 2021 and 11 May 2021, are publicly available to download from the website http://www.whatdotheyknow.com, which is the source of the information in the comment on the Archbishop Cranmer blog. I will e-mail them to Simon asking that he adds the documents as an update to this thread. . Mr Fox has requested an internal review of the 11 May answer by the Censor Theologiae, Professor Ian Watson. He says that he is ‘very surprised’ that the Charity Commission has not already requested this data (i.e. money spent by ChCh in… Read more »

Alan Fox
Alan Fox
Reply to  David Lamming
3 months ago

I have now received the Watson review response. Still a “no” (“take too long”). Its on the whatdotheyknow site. I’ll probably take it to inf Commissioners , but last time it took them 6 months to appoint an investigator!.

Martin Sewell
Martin Sewell
Reply to  Alan Fox
3 months ago

Alan, I authorise this site to give you my personal contact details if you would find a private conversation helpful.

Martin Sewell
Martin Sewell
Reply to  Simon Bravery
3 months ago

The idea that it takes 18 hours to ascertain what level of costs has been expended by lawyers in the modern era is frankly risible. All firms must provide regular updates as to costs to date and do so via their computerised accounts and time recording software. The “ work in progress “ on each individual matter will be updated daily. Equally important, lawyers must give their periodic projection of costs to conclusion. See the professional guidance here.https://www.sra.org.uk/consumers/instructing/costs-legal-aid/ if the treasurer does not know and has not told each and every trustee what the costs position is, how can they… Read more »

David Lamming
David Lamming
Reply to  Martin Sewell
3 months ago

A possible difficulty is that Alan Fox’s second FoI request asked for “the amount of money spent by Christ Church on the action against the Dean, including legal fees, tribunal costs, expert advice (legal and otherwise), Public Relations expenditure, and any other related spend.” A more focused request, limited to legal costs would be more difficult to bat away, for the reasons given by Martin. I would suggest a fresh request seeking: (i) the amounts billed and/or paid to date to all firms of solicitors instructed by the Governing Body in connection with the investigation into the alleged incident in… Read more »

Faith
Faith
3 months ago

As mentioned earlier, Prof. Linda Woodhead has demolished the Meringue Maisonette erected by Fen Punter. Was this one allegation, and considered by President of Tribunals Judge Sarah Asplin, sufficiently grievous to merit even starting a church tribunal? Was it likely to be a matter of serious misconduct, even if proven? No, she says, it was not. Thus spake the 4th most senior Court of Appeal Judge in the country. But such is the vehemence, arrogance and entitlement of some Christ Church dons, they’ll think they know better. In the same way, they dismissed Sir Andrew Smith’s tribunal judgment in 2019.… Read more »

C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
Reply to  Faith
3 months ago

I believe Fen Punter has been concerned for “Miss X” and the interpretation of legal proceedings. The way your comments run, with obvious loathing for “Christ Church dons,” it is as if these two domains are being conflated. That is confusing.

Further, re: tone. Why do you have to use language like “Meringue Maisonette” to make your point? Prof. Woodhead, whose cause you would make your own, thankfully does not do this.

Last edited 3 months ago by C R SEITZ
Susannah Clark
Reply to  Faith
3 months ago

Faith, bear with me please, but in the interests of even-handedness, may I make the same point that I have just made to ‘Fen Punter’: . I respect that some people choose to write under ‘pseudonyms’ for privacy and safety reasons, though I far prefer to interact ‘out in the open’ with people knowing who I am, and me knowing who I am talking to, and the contexts behind their contributions. Ideally, if I ran a forum, I’d make actual names mandatory unless the moderator had privately agreed to allow an individual anonymity after hearing the reasons why it was… Read more »

C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
Reply to  Susannah Clark
3 months ago

Dispassionate?

Mark Bennet
Mark Bennet
Reply to  Susannah Clark
3 months ago

I think one of the issues on a thread like this is that it encompasses a range of issues, some of which are deeply personal for people involved (and sometimes for those who have been caught up in similar situations). Alongside that there are reputational and power issues clearly involved, as well as general issues relating to the nature of church discipline and accountability. Inevitably, those who comment on the general issues involved (I am one, and am committed to reform of the CDM for example: and will updated guidance on the conduct of the clergy make specific reference to… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
Reply to  Susannah Clark
3 months ago

If anyone wishes to remain anonymous that should be fully respected. There are many good reasons why someone would choose to write under a pseudonym, and many good reasons why that anonymity should be respected.

Stanley Monkhouse
3 months ago

What with the omnishambles of Christ Church and Winchester and safeguarding and clergy morale and managerialism and financial meltdown, it’s easy to be overwhelmed. Dr Stanley has prescribed himself several cures. Froghole mentioned Hugh Walpole’s “Mr Perrin and Mr Traill”, novel and film (on YouTube). That led me to Walpole’s “The Cathedral” (downloadable free), Walpole has it all: human experience with (mostly) good intentions soiled by hierarchy, pomposity, hypocrisy, rivalry, cruelty, malice, hubris, and institutionalisation – much darker than Trollope. By convoluted neural pathways I then landed on Ayckbourn’s “The Norman Conquests”. The parallels with the farcical C of E are… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Stanley Monkhouse
3 months ago

For a non-fiction alternative to Father Stanley’s reading suggestions (or in addition to them) I can warmly recommend “Barchester” by local author and priest, the late Philip Barrett, published by SPCK. Barrett had been Precentor at Hereford Cathedral and latterly in parish ministry in the Winchester Diocese. It’s a quite weighty tome, a non-fiction account of 19th century cathedral life. It’s just as good as ‘All Gas and Gaiters’ – and it’s the real thing.  Even then Chichester was a hotbed of troubles – a neurotic and mysoginist Dean at war with his Chapter, one of them having all the trees… Read more »

Simon Kershaw
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
3 months ago

Precentors were (full) canons at the Old Foundation cathedrals, but only minor canons at the New Foundations (i.e. the old monastic cathedrals). In very recent years some of the New Foundations have elevated the precentor to a full residential canonry, but this is not statutory in the way it is with the Old Foundations.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
3 months ago

Hence the situation I described at New Foundation Worcester, and by contrast, the opposite Old at Hereford. I can remember a minor canon as Precentor at Winchester who had held that office since the 1930s. Not certain exactly when the change came, but Anthony Caesar was certainly both Precentor and residentiary and, in time, Vice-Dean.

Charles Read
3 months ago

In an idle moment I found this:
https://cherwell.org/2021/03/25/oxford-acs-responds-to-racial-harassment-incident-at-christ-church-college/
Now, I don’t want to think the worst of anyone – even the wily dons of Christ Church Oxford, but I wonder if this is more evidence of a poor attitude amongst college officers? Or is there another side to this story?

Simon Kershaw
Admin
3 months ago

On the question of noms de plume (pseudonyms if you prefer) we — that is, Simon, Peter and Simon, the editors of TA — have from time to time over the years encouraged people to comment under their real names. There is, however, a difference between posting pseudonymously on a generic thread in which one has no personal interest, and commenting on a more sensitive thread such as this one. I don’t think it’s fair to try and get pseudonymous posters on this thread to “out” themselves. Some may be able to and others may not. I have no particular… Read more »

Last edited 3 months ago by Simon Kershaw
C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
3 months ago

Thanks for this.

One suspects it is a topic about which people have different views (unsurprisingly).I very much like the idea of arguing things on the merits, and find the need to know who one is dealing with often an introduction to ad hominem.

Others believe dispassionate concern with facts a foil for something. Still others like to remain hidden behind noms de plume so as to raise the passion.

Such is our intellectual moment.

God 'elp us all
God 'elp us all
3 months ago

I note that the press conference for the release of the report by the Daniel Morgan Independent Panel which speaks so powerfully of Institutional Corruption took place at Church House, described thus by Wikipedia: ‘The Church House is the home of the headquarters of the Church of England, occupying the south end of Dean’s Yard next to Westminster Abbey in London’ where General Synod will be meeting next month- a location for prophetic voices speaking truth to power indeed.

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
Reply to  God 'elp us all
3 months ago

Church House Westminster – “a location for prophetic voices speaking truth to power”:

http://rebuildingbridges.org.uk/conference-proceedings/introduction/

http://rebuildingbridges.org.uk/2018/10/29/october-5-proceedings/

Last edited 3 months ago by Richard W. Symonds
Dan BD
Reply to  God 'elp us all
3 months ago

Church House Westminster – “a location for prophetic voices speaking truth to power”(!) indeed:

https://www.google.com/search?q=rusi+church+house

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