Thinking Anglicans

Christ Church Governing Body criticised for its attacks on the Dean

The Church Times has published further details of the Christ Church saga. Do read the entire article:
‘Weaponising’ of abuse victims in Oxford row ‘beyond contempt’ Christ Church dons told.

SENIOR members of Christ Church, Oxford, have been accused of “weaponising” the suffering of abuse victims in a further attempt to oust the Dean, the Very Revd Dr Martyn Percy.

On Wednesday of last week, a message accusing the Dean of safeguarding lapses was posted on the college website (News, 6 March). Dr Percy issued an instant rebuttal. (Elements of his rebuttal were then challenged by lawyers working for the college.)

The Diocesan Canon Precentor, the Revd Dr Grant Bayliss, has written to all members of the Governing Body to object to the message, which was circulated to the press by the PR firm Luther Pendragon. Canon Bayliss, who is not a member of the Governing Body, has filed a complaint against the small “press group” at the college responsible for the rushed and “staggeringly inadequate” consultation process on Wednesday of last week, when the safeguarding statement was posted on the college website.

He goes on: “I find the fact that no comment or mitigating defence from the Dean was included in the House statement bewildering. . . Moreover, how is it that our website has still not been updated with the Dean’s response, and that its existence is only evident in the Guardian and Church Times?”

He concludes by considering the view that the safeguarding statement was an “intentional attack” on the Dean. “Like some colleagues, I have spent many hours supporting and counselling victims of abuse and violent crime, and to ‘weaponize’ such suffering in any way is beneath contempt…”

The Guardian report mentioned above is this: Oxford dean accused of failing to report child sexual assault claim.

The “rebuttal” message issued from Luther Pendragon can be found online only in the Cherwell student newspaper, see Christ Church dean accused of mishandling child sexual assault case and scroll down…

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Andrew Lightbown
8 months ago

Martyn might not be interested in a pay off. He may well be one of those who put principle before pay and anyway if he goes it doesn’t’t necessarily mean that the problems dissipate or disappear. This feels to be a bigger and wider problem than can be solved through a reconciliation process or some form of agreed departures.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
8 months ago

Isn’t it time for the Crown as Visitor to intervene by a formal Visitation?

Father Ron Smith
8 months ago

More disgraceful behaviour by the Governing Body and its legal team?

David Lamming
David Lamming
8 months ago

Despite the lengthy report in the Times Magazine on 29 February 2020, naming those dons who exchanged abusive e-mails (for which they should be ashamed and, alone, tender their resignations), the unredacted/unedited Andrew Smith judgment is still not in the public domain. Will someone who has seen it publish it soon, please, so that everyone can assess the issues in this case and where the blame lies for what is, increasingly, an unholy mess. If Dean Percy has been truly exonerated, the Charity Commission should take action to secure the removal from the Governing Body of those responsible for the… Read more »

Kate
Kate
8 months ago

It is interesting to note that the College lawyers’ rebuttal ignores the accusation that safeguarding has been weaponised by the Governing Body. As to the rest, I guess in part it comes down in part to who reported historical cases to the Dean, and why, and, of course, what the Dean was supposed to do at that time. Once again, from the outside it is impossible to judge the situation accurately or fairly because we don’t know the facts. What is apparent is that the Governing Body unilaterally and without giving a legitimate reason for doing so, publicly accused the… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
8 months ago
Reply to  Kate

Kate, I can’t swear to this, and doubtless will be quickly corrected if I am wrong, but I don’t think “lawyers” is the right description of the people who published the rebuttal.

Kate
Kate
8 months ago

Sorry, you are right

Andrew Lightbown
8 months ago

Grant Bayliss is a good man. He was my liturgy tutor at college and also my personal tutor. He is a man of strong convictions yet slow (in the best sense of the word) to act. He has shown real courage and compassion in doing so now. He obviously cares for the ‘house,’ the cathedral, the dean and most importantly victims of abuse. His words should be closely heeded.

Julie Mintern
Julie Mintern
8 months ago

Indeed

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
8 months ago

Wasn’t Luther Pendragon the PR corporate employed by the Church of England in the Bishop Bell debacle?

Richard W.
Richard W.
8 months ago
Reply to  Helen King

Tail wagging the dog.

Richard W.
Richard W.
8 months ago
Reply to  Helen King

I am reminded of what Revd Graham Sawyer said at the IICSA Inquiry in July 2018: “The sex abuse that was perpetrated upon me by Peter Ball pales into insignificance when compared to the entirely cruel and sadistic treatment that has been meted out to me by officials, both lay and ordained. I know from the testimony of other people who have got in touch with me over the last five or 10 years that what I have experienced is not dissimilar to the experience of so many others and I use these words cruel and sadistic because I think… Read more »

Richard W.
Richard W.
8 months ago
Reply to  Helen King

IICSA TRANSCRIPT – DAY 1 – MONDAY – JULY 23 2018 Page 90 MR GIFFIN: Chair, members of the panel, the Archbishops’ Council is grateful for this opportunity to make some brief opening remarks….In 2015, after Ball, as you have heard, pleaded guilty to offences and was sentenced for them, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, wrote to individuals known to have been abused by Ball to offer his apologies and the church made a public statement, including these words, which bear repeating. Shall I pause? FIONA SCOLDING QC: I’m terribly sorry. I don’t know what is going on. I… Read more »

Stephen C Parsons
8 months ago
Reply to  Helen King

Thank you Helen for reminding me that I wrote this piece in July last year. I was appalled by the revelations of the C of E Newspaper about Luther P and I summed up their behaviour as ‘murky, disreputable and dishonest’. I see no reason to change my opinion of them now.

Charles K
Charles K
8 months ago

In fact, Luther Pendragon are involved in a number of Dioceses – including recently London and Winchester providing their comms & websites. If I was their client, I would be seriously considering any contract with them. Being paid to defend the indefensible seems pretty poor in my book.

Richard W.
Richard W.
8 months ago
Reply to  Charles K

This raises the very serious question as to who it is within the Church of England who briefs and instructs Luther Pendragon. A small cabal within the Archbishops’ Council presumably? Whilst I personally have little time for the likes of Luther Pendragon, they are paid to follow a brief and an instruction provided to them by the client – in this case the Church of England.

Kate
Kate
8 months ago

In my experience a lot of organisations only hire PR consultants when there are events they want to spin.

Angusian
Angusian
8 months ago
Reply to  Kate

or just conceal !

Sam Jones
Sam Jones
8 months ago

It is unseemly to watch both sides washing their dirty linen in public. I think it is time for the Bishop of Oxford and the University Vice Chancellor to knock a few heads together and agree a pay-off for Percy.

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
8 months ago
Reply to  Sam Jones

Percy does not appear to be the one at fault here – so why should he go?

Kate
Kate
8 months ago
Reply to  Sam Jones

If, as Martyn Percy claims, the real dispute was that he objected to lax safeguarding procedures, do you believe that paying him off would in any way be appropriate?

Stanley Monkhouse
8 months ago

Would it be reasonable of me to suggest that we refrain from further comment? We know little. We have no influence. If I were MP – and I’ve been in similar though less serious circumstances before and after ordination – I’d feel that every comment, no matter how supportive, was further inflaming an open wound. I hope this doesn’t come across as sanctimonious: it’s intended to be compassionate.

Richard W.
Richard W.
8 months ago

Would it be reasonable of me to suggest that we do not refrain from further comment. We know more. We have influence. “If I were MP [Martyn Percy]…I’d feel…” I don’t think any of us should presume to know how anyone feels.

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