Updated Friday evening
Christ Church confirms successful conclusion of mediation with the Dean
Statement by Christ Church:
A process of mediation has been taking place to try to resolve a number of outstanding issues between the Dean of Christ Church and the Governing Body.
This includes an allegation of sexual harassment made against the Dean.
Christ Church has always regarded the safety and well-being of its students and staff as its highest priority. Any such allegation will always be thoroughly investigated and addressed, whilst respecting the right to a fair hearing for the accused.
We made clear throughout the various dispute processes with the Dean that no resolution could be reached unless the concerns of the individual making the allegation of sexual harassment against him were fully addressed.
Christ Church can now confirm that the mediation process has been concluded and that a resolution has been reached that is acceptable to all parties.
The Dean has agreed to step down, voluntarily, from his role as Dean of Christ Church, and the individual who made the allegation of sexual harassment against the Dean has agreed to settle her claim on terms which on her request are confidential.
At the request of the individual concerned, Christ Church will within twelve months commission a comprehensive review of its policies and procedures in relation to sexual harassment to be led by an independent expert. This review will ensure that any future cases are dealt with fairly and expediently.
We are grateful to the individual involved that they have agreed to work with us to ensure that these procedures fully reflect the experience they endured. The review will seek to strengthen further those measures which Christ Church already has in place to protect the students and staff, and to ensure that a safe environment for teaching and learning is maintained.
Christ Church is deeply sorry for the hurt that this individual has suffered and we regret the time that it has taken to bring these matters concerning the Dean to a conclusion.
Statement by ‘X’
In October 2020 I brought a claim of sexual harassment against the Dean of Christ Church.
The Dean has always denied this claim. He has also denied that he victimised me including after I brought Employment Tribunal proceedings against him.
I have to accept, incredibly reluctantly, that it is my word against his that the incident took place. I am acutely aware that this is a situation faced by many women who bring complaints of a sexual nature. Sadly, the various processes that have followed have not altered this situation. However, I want to acknowledge that Christ Church, to their credit, has always supported my right to make this complaint.
I know what I experienced on that day and I want to ensure that no other student or member of staff has to go through the ordeal that I have.
I am pleased that the Dean has agreed to step down from his role at Christ Church and, in return, I have agreed to settle my outstanding claims against him.
I am reassured that Christ Church has begun the important work of ensuring that its practices and policies provide the best possible support and protection for all members of its community. I will be working with Christ Church to ensure that whatever changes they adopt take into account my experiences.
I sincerely hope that in some way this will help to ensure that other students and staff avoid the distress that I have experienced.
I would like to thank Christ Church for bringing about a resolution to my complaint against the Dean.
Of course, I wish that a resolution could have been achieved more quickly and without the pain and stress I have endured, so that the sense of injustice I have long felt could have been, if not entirely eradicated, made more bearable.
The resolution that has now been reached brings the matter to a formal close, and I hope that we can all move forward in a positive manner.
The Very Revd Martyn Percy
4 February 2022 The Governing Body of Christ Church has announced that mediation processes have concluded with the Dean and a resolution reached that is satisfactory to all parties.
The Rt Revd Dr Steven Croft, Bishop of Oxford, has issued the following statement:
Christ Church have announced this afternoon that the Dean has agreed to step down from his duties as Dean following a long and protracted series of disputes with the governing body and a process of mediation.
A complaint of sexual harassment brought against the Dean by a member of staff has also been settled in a parallel process of mediation. The allegation was unrelated to previous disputes.
A settlement has been agreed with the Dean and, separately, with the complainant.
The complainant has felt discredited and disbelieved. The Dean has felt hurt and isolated. The complaint and previous disputes have also been painful for Cathedral Chapter, the congregation of the Cathedral and many others. The settlement brings to an end a damaging period in the life of the Cathedral and the College.
There is a moment and opportunity now for grace and, over time, for a process of reconciliation and healing of relationships.
My own encouragement to all is to seek the peace to which Christ calls us. This will understandably take time and I commend all concerned to the continued prayers of the diocese. I have written to Martyn to repeat my offer of conversation and dialogue about his next steps.
The college will seek to appoint an independent chair for a governance review proposed by the Charity Commission. The Diocese of Oxford and the Church of England will contribute to that review in due course.
Both the Dean and the complainant have requested an independent lessons learned review of the processes followed by the Diocese and the Church of England nationally. The Bishop’s Council have agreed to this and we are seeking the support of the Archbishops’ Council for this to be jointly commissioned.
Martyn continues to be held in respect and affection by many across the Diocese of Oxford, the wider Church and internationally for his gifts as a priest and writer. Many will be grieved by the disputes that have led to his departure.
Together we hope and pray, by the grace of God, for a hopeful and fruitful future for all concerned.
Statement from Martyn Percy NB not referenced or linked in either of the above statements
STATEMENT Re DEAN of CHRIST CHURCH
The Governing Body of Christ Church Oxford has agreed to drop all charges and processes against the College’s Dean, the Very Rev Prof Martyn Percy. A settlement – including a substantial sum in compensation and the payment of the Dean’s outstanding legal fees – was endorsed by the GB at a meeting today (FRIDAY). The College has also agreed to an independently-led review of its governance.
As part of this settlement, Dr Percy will relinquish his position as Dean at the end of April.
Dr Percy said:
“Despite the trials and troubles over the last four years, we will miss Christ Church enormously. It is a special place, and our family have been blessed with great support and friendship from students, staff, congregation and colleagues over this time. Those friendships and our gratitude will endure and remain. Our own faith in the constancy of God has been sustaining, and evidenced by the goodness, kindness and care we have been shown by many, despite all else. We sincerely wish Christ Church well for the future, and will hope and pray that the governance reforms will be both effective and welcome when they are implemented.”
One colleague of Prof. Percy said: “We are relieved and pleased that Christ Church has finally agreed a reasonable settlement to a dispute which has riven the college, cost millions of pounds and caused untold distress, unhappiness and harm to those caught up in it. Christ Church appointed him as Dean in 2014 and it was soon clear that a proud and august institution needed crucial reforms to some of the ways in which it operated, including in respect of the welfare and safety of its students.
A small group of fellows – both past and present – disagreed and orchestrated a sustained and concerted campaign to oust him. That campaign took many forms and is reported to have cost many millions. Several expensive law firms and PR companies were deployed to denigrate, harrass and humiliate him. But every time an independent tribunal or individual examined the evidence they found against the College.
The easy thing for the Dean would have been to walk away. That would have been better for his mental health and for the wellbeing of his family. But others at the College implored him to stay until there was a guarantee of a thorough and independent review of the governance of the institution.
Today the College has finally agreed both a settlement to the dispute with him and to an independent review, the results of which will be reported to the Charity Commission, the ultimate regulator of Oxford and Cambridge colleges. This brings to an end all litigation and complaints, though various regulatory bodies will doubtless continue to look at what went wrong with the college governance, together with the actions of their advisers.
The Dean added:
“I can now step aside, and look forward to resuming a normal life with my wife Emma, who has been such a rock of strength during this painful struggle.
While the past four years have often been harrowing, I have drawn great comfort from the unwavering support of colleagues, alumni and friends. I would like also to thank my legal advisers, both official and unofficial and Unite the Union, in particular the Unite Faith Workers Branch. A free, unfettered press has also succeeded in surfacing important truths in the face of legal threats and obstructions.
Christ Church has been around for nearly 500 years and I sincerely hope it flourishes for many centuries to come. I hope the independent review overseen by the Charity Commission will succeed. I sincerely hope that he same standards in public life we have come to expect of our most cherished national institutions – including integrity, transparency and accountability – will flourish and bear fruit here.”