Updated Monday; updated again Tuesday, and again Wednesday (scroll down)
We last reported on this long-running saga on 16 February. Today The Times carries a lengthy article by Andrew Billen which contains a great deal more detail, and names of individuals involved, than any previous report. You will need to register with the website to read this. It’s well worth the trouble.
…It is the story of how a professor at Christ Church blew the whistle on an archaic and inadequate safeguarding regime that had failed her, and claims of how a cabal of academics conspired first to thwart and then delay his proposed reforms before working to remove him from office. The whistleblower was not a junior employee, a naive young don, but the head of the college, the dean of Christ Church himself, the Very Rev Professor Martyn Percy…
There is also a leading article: The Times view on Martyn Percy: Low Table.
Update 1: (Saturday 29 February) there is a revised (from earlier 14 February) statement from Christ Church here:
There has been a clear attempt, through the media, to disrupt the ongoing mediation process that the Governing Body is funding to resolve the current dispute with the Dean. Confidential legal information has been leaked and presented in a deliberately-misleading fashion, aimed at damaging the reputation of Christ Church and a number of its former and current trustees. This account of the dispute is simply not true. Even in the light of such pressure, we remain committed to the mediation.
There is categorically no link between safeguarding and the complaint over pay initiated by the Dean. Christ Church is focused on providing a safe environment for all, and to giving safeguarding the highest importance. Christ Church has been reviewing its safeguarding processes over the last three years and we are confident that all relevant policies met statutory requirements throughout the period in question.
Legal advice has been provided to trustees and officers, acting on behalf of Christ Church, throughout the dispute with the Dean. Those trustees and officers are, and always have been, committed to working for the good of Christ Church. In December 2019, a vote of no confidence was put to the Governing Body. 38 voted that they had no confidence in the Dean, with only 2 against the motion. Frustrations conveyed about the Dean, exacerbated by the dispute over his pay, have also in the past been expressed in some private emails – however, again, none of these related to safeguarding matters.
Mediation with the Dean, funded by Christ Church, is due to continue next week. We very much hope that we can find a way forward through this process.
Update 2:(Tuesday 2 March)There is a new report in The Times: Christ Church Oxford tries to silence defence of dean
The headline in the paper edition reads: Don’t read it! Oxford college tries to silence defence of dean.
…On Sunday evening all 60 members of the governing body of Christ Church were emailed an unredacted copy of the judgment delivered in secret last summer by Sir Andrew Smith, a retired High Court judge.
The emailed copy was sent by the Rev Jonathan Aitken, the former cabinet minister who was once an undergraduate at the college…
…Within half an hour of Mr Aitken sending his email, Geraldine Johnson, the senior Governing Body member …wrote: Please immediately delete the email from Mr Aitken… It is extremely important that we retain our united front on this matter…
Do read the full article if you can. There is also a letter to the editor from Jonathan Aitken.
Update 3: (Wednesday 4 March) There is a new statement from Christ Church: Update on Safeguarding
On 7 February 2020, we received a media enquiry regarding the two Employment Tribunal claims, which the Dean has lodged against Christ Church. This included an allegation that a former student had been sexually assaulted during their time at Christ Church, whilst still a minor. Upon further investigation, it is apparent that this allegation was disclosed to the Dean, but never reported by him to the police, the local authority designated officer, Christ Church’s safeguarding officers, or the Church of England’s safeguarding officer.
This allegation has now been reported to the police. Internal investigations have subsequently raised serious concerns about the Dean’s handling of four separate matters reported to him. All relate to allegations of sexual abuse or assault, two involving a minor. On legal advice, we have also made a report to the Church of England’s National Safeguarding Office, and they have opened an investigation.
There is no implication whatsoever that the Dean himself has been involved in any form of sexual misconduct.
Protecting our students, pupils, staff, and all those who live, work, or study at Christ Church is our highest priority. We are assisting the Church of England and the police in their enquiries, and we are putting in place measures to ensure that our safeguarding obligations continue to be met.
Christ Church’s Governing Body is fully committed to safeguarding and has robust policies and processes in place. Our thoughts are with any survivors of abuse affected by this news. If anyone requires immediate support, they should contact Christ Church or the police.
March 4, 2020