Thinking Anglicans

Christ Church Oxford settles dispute with Dean

Updated Friday evening

 Christ Church press release

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.

Oxford diocese press release

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.

+Steven Oxford

——-

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.”

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Jeremy Pemberton
Jeremy Pemberton
3 months ago

About as unsupportive of his Dean as a bishop could be. I am very glad this ghastly process is over and hope that Martyn and Emma can find a place together which will support their considerable gifts and allow them to be appreciated properly.

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Jeremy Pemberton
3 months ago

The bishop’s episcopal seat is managed by Christ Church and he has to work with the governing body going forwards. Did that dependence influence his statement? We will never know. Christ Church will be reviewing their structures. I think the diocese ought to do so too.

Jeremy Ames
Jeremy Ames
Reply to  Jeremy Pemberton
3 months ago

I sent a message of support for Martyn Percy to +Oxon a while ago. I was asking for some assurance that he was receiving some pastoral support from his bishop.
I got a rather cold anodyne response about confidentiality, couched in what I found sadly corporate terms. Perhaps this is about ‘new ways of being church’. I rather miss the old ways!

Froghole
Froghole
3 months ago

A very sad, expensive, protracted and discreditable story.

One way of commencing the ‘healing’ will be by changing the organisation of Christ Church.

No more clerical deans as head of house. Or, to put it another way, it is now high time for a lay head of the college (not necessarily the cathedral) and to create fully separate structures for cathedral and college.

Jah
Jah
Reply to  Froghole
3 months ago

And where, to balance Ms X’s concluding plaint is the very dignified statement from the Dean who was fully exonerated on every count? To the bitter end, it seems there is imbalance and bias but the wheels of God grind slow etc….. At least ChCh’s opaque governance will now be reviewed and the Dean can now leave this sorry business behind him. Healing starts with honesty and truth…so God bless those of the House who are true and everyone who has worked to keep the truth alive amid PR campaigns of smear, spin, spite and worse.

Mark Bennet
Mark Bennet
Reply to  Jah
3 months ago

Sadly, the complainant here, as with others who were [in earlier days actively] supported by the Dean, has found herself in the midst of a power play which has had no interest in her own wellbeing. Will she be compensated more than the cost of a banquet – who knows? Will all those who have used her story to further their own ambitions etc be properly held to account? [this brings to mind Gavroche in Les Mis]. The only thing that can be said positively of the CofE NST (and perhaps the Bishop of Oxford and the sub-Dean) is that… Read more »

Anton
Anton
Reply to  Froghole
3 months ago

With hallf a billion pounds at stake, neither the academic nor the ecclesiastical side will compromise. So the present situation will continue.

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Anton
3 months ago

Many thanks, but I am not certain I can agree. The Church has been in retreat in Oxford at least since Russell’s appointment of the royal commission of 1850-52 (Hinds, Tait, Jeune, Liddell, Dampier, Baden Powell, Johnson and Stanley). Almost all the clerical fellowships and all but one of the clerical headships have fallen. Those who would have defended the position of the Church, whether Gaisford or Routh in the 1850s, Burgon or Salisbury in the 1870s and even such latter-day King Cnut’s as Edwin Barnes, have always protested, and have always, always lost. Any attempt by the Church to… Read more »

Stephen Griffiths
Stephen Griffiths
Reply to  Anton
3 months ago

I’m inclined to agree. Given the Governing Body’s resistance to change, at least to the changes proposed by the Dean, creating new governance structures might be off their agenda. The failure of a complex institution may be because the settlement has run its course. It may be that a particular set of personalities and relationships at a certain point in time fragmented. Making that judgment at this time seems crucial, especially as it may contribute to the Church of England’s further estrangement from the communities it seeks to serve, in this case tertiary education. The current questions about Canterbury’s appointment… Read more »

Mark Bennet
Mark Bennet
Reply to  Froghole
3 months ago

The Christian foundations of many of the older Oxbridge colleges have been diluted over a couple of centuries. The Christ Church foundation has been relatively resistant to change, and that is one of the things that has created tension. It will not be so simple to disentangle things – I would suggest a Royal Commission might be in order. The powers that be at Oxford may well have thought of this, because it is a way of mitigating the collateral damage.

Maggie
Maggie
Reply to  Froghole
3 months ago

Which precisely describes an underlying agenda in these past painful years. Fellows antipathetic to Christianity have won the day, meanwhile attempting unsuccessfully to trash the Dean’s reputation. A disgraceful day for both the C of E and the College.

Martin Sewell
Martin Sewell
3 months ago

I can’t be the only one noticing that the logical impossibility of a finding in such a case within anything like a fair process, existed immediately after the President’s decision of 28th May 2021. The facts were laid out by her clearly and succinctly.

So what exactly was going on with the Dean’s persecutors and their collaborators in College and Church thereafter?

Hint- nothing to their credit.

Sam Jones
Sam Jones
3 months ago

It is good that this is finally over but the roles of the cathedral dean and head of college need to be separated before any new appointment is made.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Sam Jones
3 months ago

Your suggestion of delaying appointment(s) would, surely, involve an interregnum of inordinate length.  Firstly, there will have to be agreement reached between all parties – or terms imposed on them.  I think Mark Bennet is probably right that a Royal Commission will be necessary.  As the Cathedral is a ‘peculiar’ the position and jurisdiction of the Bishop of Oxford also come into play in any rearrangement, as does the present role of the Crown.  Changes will require parliamentary legislation; revised Statutes for Christ Church would involve the Privy Council.  Froghole (a Christ Church alumnus) favours division of Cathedral and College,… Read more »

Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
3 months ago

Presumably Sam Jones’ assertion is best considered in the light of the alternative: what sort of cleric could be convinced to take on the role knowing the risks and the likelihood that their hands would be tied in terms of any substantive reform? I suspect a temporary appointment to steady the ship while reforms are agreed will be the only option. Give a recently-retired bishop something to do?

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Jo B
3 months ago

But I think you and Froghole have put your finger on the problem. You suggest a retired bishop; Froghole proposes a retired judge. In a way, both ignore the dual role of the deanery in its present form.

But, as I observe below to Froghole, we are mere outsiders continuing the TA tradition of giving gratuitous advice on matters in which we have absolutely no say! So, once more, a case of watching this space to see what will happen.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Jo B
3 months ago

I fear I have muddied the waters. Froghole’s suggestion is that a retired judge should only re-draft the statutes, and that the sub-Dean should carry on during the interregnum, all assuming, of course, that the status quo is to change.

Sam Jones
Sam Jones
Reply to  Sam Jones
3 months ago

It appears there are three reviews/investigations in progress – one by the college, one by the C of E and one by the Charities Commission. No-one in their right mind would take this job until those have concluded. An interim appointment e.g. a retired bishop or academic is the obvious solution.

Jeremy Ames
Jeremy Ames
3 months ago

Well, now he is available to become the new Bishop of Winchester; a serious theological brain on the senior bench!

Froghole
Froghole
3 months ago

I appreciate the useful remarks made by Messrs Bennet and Wateridge about royal commissions. However, the UK has had only three of these in the last 40 years: Runciman on criminal justice in 1991, which led to the Criminal Cases Review Commission; Sutherland on the long term care of the elderly in 1998, which led to absolutely nothing; and Wakeham in 1999 on the future of the house of lords, which kept some upper middle aged politicians and officials occupied for a year or so, but which otherwise achieved no practical result. I would suggest that the subject matters of… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Froghole
3 months ago

Thank you, but in these proposals I don’t see any provision for a Cathedral Dean! It seems very self-centred on Christ Church solely qua College! In any revision should not the Cathedral deanery and appointment to it transfer wholly to the C of E? The Governing Body’s role would be to appoint a new head of house, limited to the College, and not involve themselves in Cathedral appointments.

Totally academic questions and comment coming from an outsider, of course, but the great majority of comments and no shortage of suggested reforms during this saga have been by outsiders!

Mark Bennet
Mark Bennet
Reply to  Froghole
3 months ago

Well an internal solution seems not to be an option as the Charity Commission looks set to crawl all over this, and questions such as whether the public benefit being secured by this charity is commensurate with the size of its endowment will no doubt occur. I am not sure why a Royal Commission would necessarily be so expensive, but it would be a formal way of engaging the authority of the Visitor, whose agency has not been not mentioned in any of the material to date. The problem with an entirely internal solution is that the actions of the… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Froghole
3 months ago

Many thanks to both of you for your remarks. Mr Wateridge makes a very good point: the transfer of the cathedral, the chapter house, the choir school and certain of the canonical houses to the Church would seem to me to be a perfectly reasonable outcome. As to Mr Bennet’s remarks, the problem with royal commissions is that they take very long to deliberate (https://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/LLN-2020-0094/Royal-commissions-appointed-since-1945.pdf), never mind to report. This is why they are so expensive, and it is arguably the reason why they have fallen out of favour (although not in Australia or Canada). Unfortunately, their history – at… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Froghole
3 months ago

But would revision of the Christ Church Statutes be sufficient to transfer the deanery (the office of Cathedral Dean – including appointment – and all the Cathedral appurtenances) to the C of E, assuming that somehow all parties agree to this, or it is imposed by outside authority – the Crown? Doesn’t the position and authority of the Bishop of Oxford need to be reviewed? Is Christ Church to remain a ‘non-Royal peculiar’ – William Nye’s term. Additionally I have to share Mark Bennet’s doubt that the Charity Commission has yet been assuaged. So, although strictly ‘none of our business’,… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
3 months ago

It seems to me (though I may be wrong) that Christ Church is inhibited only by the 1867 Act and by its own statutes, which follow that Act. Section 52 (1) of the Cathedrals Measure 2021 (following Section 36 (6)) states that the Measure does not apply to Oxford. Sections 42 and 43 of the Cathedrals Measure 1963 do apply to Oxford, but not to the deanery. Therefore an argument could be made that this is something which can be effected via a revision of the statutes, and revisions have been made many times since 1867. However, the text of… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Froghole
3 months ago

Sorry, I obviously have not made myself clear! Those are precisely the outcomes I was contemplating.

Anton
Anton
Reply to  Froghole
3 months ago

It is inhibited also by Charity Law.

Mark Bennet
Mark Bennet
Reply to  Froghole
3 months ago

The problem is that it isn’t just a college – the foundation is a joint one and both parts are significant.

Jeremy non P non A
Jeremy non P non A
3 months ago

Interesting that Christ Church itself makes no mention of any governance review.
Christ Church leaves it to Bishop Stephen to say that the Charity Commission proposed a governance review. The Dean then says that Christ Church agreed to such a review. Yet on this subject, Christ Church itself is silent.
From that silence, it would appear that battle lines are already being drawn for the governance review. One wonders how “independent” it will turn out to be.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Jeremy non P non A
3 months ago

I thought the Governance Review was ‘required’ by the Charity Commission in 2021 or, maybe, even 2020, but had somehow gone on hold. In spite of the Bishop’s anomalous status at Oxford, presumably we can take his statement at face value and that it will go ahead. Interestingly, Martyn Percy would be the most obvious and most relevant witness to give evidence …

John Wallace
John Wallace
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
3 months ago

I am just so pleased that Martyn has got some sort of positive resolution out of this mess. I pray for him and Emma as they recuperate and look for other areas of service where his ( and her) substantial gifts can be used for the extension and the glory of the Kingdom of God. Not being in the Oxford Diocese, their ecclesiological conundra are outside my knowledge. I just pray that they will get it right and stop further damage. What about St Mary the Virgin Oxford as the Cathedral (without all the usual appertances like choirs and canons… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  John Wallace
3 months ago

I don’t know how to take seriously a suggestion that the Cathedral should be moved to another church and the Chapter and choir remain at Christ Church. For the avoidance of doubt, under the existing Statutes the Cathedral, the choral foundation and school, and the housing which goes with them, all vest in the Dean and Chapter, not the College. That the diocese is large and maybe geographically unwieldy aren’t proper reasons for these drastic proposals. I suppose you might cite Leeds as a precedent of sorts, but that diocese has three cathedrals with three Chapters! – and the results… Read more »

Stephen Griffiths
Stephen Griffiths
3 months ago

I would think the Charity Commission will want the governance review to suggest how the existing constitution can best fulfil its objectives. The splitting up of the foundation into discrete parts must be at odds with its stated charitable aims. I’d much rather see a new constitution arise out of a planned and positive desire for everyone to thrive, not as a reaction to a particularly difficult set of relationships. Have we reached a stage where we can say that a sufficiently united team cannot be assembled?

Andrew Lightbown
3 months ago

Is there now a case for separating the Cathedral from the college and inaugurating a new cathedral or cathedrals in the diocese? There are plenty of larger churches that could fulfil this role, perhaps one in each of the archdeaconries. The college would then be free to follow its own course as would the diocese / archdeaconries. I was ordained in Christ Church so have a real affection for it, but I don’t think it has really worked as a cathedral for the diocese. Just a thought.

John Wallace
John Wallace
Reply to  Andrew Lightbown
3 months ago

Re my previous comment – I worked in local government across all of the local authorities that make up the Oxford Diocese. It didn’t make sense then and so was a struggle. Let us admit that a 16th century solution was wrong and move into the real world and in prayer that the lumbering dinosaur of the Dioceses Commission will wake up. In no other large business would reorganisation to ‘meet the business needs of the organisation’ (in my view the structure of the C of E to proclaim the Gospel.’) be reliant on few people with other issues. Oxford… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Andrew Lightbown
3 months ago

Why is it not possible for the Cathedral to remain where it is, and to serve also as the chapel of the College? In fact that is the legal position already: Statute IV – Use of the Cathedral: “The Cathedral is the College Chapel of the House and the Cathedral of the Diocese of Oxford, and the Dean and Chapter shall facilitate its use in both of these capacities.” Note that it is the Dean and Chapter who are to facilitate, not the other way about. Is there any reason to assume that the Dean and Chapter and a new… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Andrew Lightbown
3 months ago

It is an excellent thought and has come up once or twice over the last few years. The problem of the present Oxford diocese is, in a sense, a legacy of the old limits of Salisbury (Berks, Dorset and Wilts), and the old Lincoln pars australis (Beds, Bucks, half Herts and Hunts). Christ Church became a cathedral only really by dint of a fluke, and it is a tragedy that Oseney was lost. Henry VIII also projected Eton College chapel (which was also a parish church until 1875, with the provost as rector) as a cathedral for Bucks, which would… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Simon Sarmiento
3 months ago

Many thanks. Schedule 2 of the 2021 Measure, for example: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukcm/2021/2/schedule/2/enacted. That is why I used the qualifier ‘to some extent’.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Froghole
3 months ago

Our comments overlap and I’m sorry that we seem to have to agree to disagree. As an alumnus you have some standing which I do not. I would have thought, from what I have read about it, that Leeds should be a terrible warning – no less than three separate Deans and Chapters!

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
3 months ago

Many thanks for that, as always. I fully appreciate that, and I feel that your arguments are very sound and plausible. I have been in gadfly mode, and feel that amidst the wreckage of the last 4 years various ideas – which may well be rubbish – need to be aired. What I would query is whether and why cathedral status, specifically pro-cathedral status, as per St German’s Peel from 1895 to 1980, Holy Trinity Guildford from 1927-61, or the lost St Peter Liverpool from 1880 to 1910, should necessitate the existence of a chapter/corporation, or indeed why there should… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Froghole
3 months ago

As you know, I have no connection with Oxford diocese, but its sheer size surely calls for a central (not necessarily geographically central) ‘conventional’ diocesan cathedral with dean and chapter, but there is nothing ‘conventional’ about the present set up! Reading the comments on TA over the last three/ four years, there has been little realisation of these words (slightly edited and my emphasis in italics) in the existing Statutes [from Statute I 5. (a) “The powers reserved to the Dean and Chapter”]: The Dean and Chapter shall have, in respect of such things and persons, all the powers now… Read more »

Simon Cowling
Simon Cowling
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
3 months ago

I do find it tiresome to read hyperbolic comments such as this. The lived experience of those of us who work in the Diocese of Leeds bears little or no relation to the observations that are often made from outside, not least on TA. Under the remarkable leadership of the first Bishop of Leeds the diocese has much to teach the wider Church of England. The fact that the church nationally seems disinclined to listen is depressing, even if entirely predictable.

Stephen Griffiths
Stephen Griffiths
Reply to  Simon Cowling
3 months ago

I’d be very glad to know what makes +Leeds’ leadership remarkable, and what the Diocese has to teach the wider Church of England. We need all the help we can get.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Simon Cowling
3 months ago

My apologies. I had no wish to offend, and as you observe, this is inevitably hearsay. I have no personal experience of Leeds C of E diocese apart from a solitary visit to Ripon Cathedral in recent years. My real interest is the legal structure of Christ Church, Oxford in its dual role of Cathedral and College Chapel, which I don’t see as being in any way incompatible if the right people are at the helm. And the structure of the Oxford diocese, which is where the comparison with Leeds arose (not solely by me!) is, I accept, a separate… Read more »

Simon Cowling
Simon Cowling
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
3 months ago

Thank you Roland. If you (or anyone on TA) would like to continue the conversation about the Diocese of Leeds via email correspondence (I am in Crockford) I’d be pleased to engage in that way.

Mark Bennet
Mark Bennet
Reply to  Simon Cowling
3 months ago

Good to see someone local – and someone I know – commenting from a local perspective. Truly “Thinking Anglicans” welcome such a perspective. As Jayne Ozanne has (roughly) commented on this thread – and I note she is, like me an Oxford local, and more local than I am – complex situations cannot easily be reduced to soundbites. It is often the small people who get lost in the power plays – and Jesus showed what Paul described as a “more excellent way” – though he didn’t write it in English.

Sam Jones
Sam Jones
Reply to  Simon Cowling
3 months ago

Do tell us more. Specifically it would be good to see the numbers and total salary/expenses of
i) bishops ii) archdeacons and iii) diocesan officials in the diocese of Leeds now compared to the three previous dioceses.

Jayne Ozanne
Jayne Ozanne
3 months ago

I’m very pleased there will be an independent review now of policies & procedures so that no others have to go through this same horrendous ordeal. I will admit to knowing both parties well & note that there was and is a significant power differential between them, both in terms of their interactions & their access to support. I would also caution that things are never quite what they seem for those reliant on the media for their information. It is, as has been said above, always very difficult when it is one person’s word against another’s, especially in relation… Read more »

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Jayne Ozanne
3 months ago

What I am aware of is that two people can both genuinely believe they know what happened but have conflicting memories. Memory isn’t perfect. Someone I know believes she did something wrong because people kept telling her she did it. I know she didn’t because I was elsewhere with her at the time. It’s impossible, but her memories have been polluted by what other people have said. I know someone else whose memories of abuse were suppressed for many years. Watching her struggle as her recollection returned was hard – it must have been awful for her. Memory isn’t like… Read more »

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  Kate
3 months ago

Memory is creative. It embroiders. It changes details. And sometimes we lie, wittingly or unwittingly. I know little about Christchurch or Oxford. I know something of academics, mainly but not exclusively academic medics who are a breed apart. That said, I think there’s much more to this story than meets the eye. Nobody comes out of it well. Questions remain. I hope the Charity Commissioners will not let the GB off the hook: I fear they might because of influential connexions and “rabbit’s friends and relations”. I hope the academic and ecclesiastical roles of the Dean will be separated for… Read more »

Paul
Paul
Reply to  Jayne Ozanne
3 months ago

Pleased to see someone acknowledge that whatever else has happened at Christ Church (and clearly been all sorts) a serious allegation of abuse was made and cannot be overlooked based on an assessment of someone’s character. On TA in any other context the sexual conduct of a church leader would cause incredible and right unease, why are we only talking about the cathedral canons and status?

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Paul
3 months ago

An allegation of sexual harassment was certainly made, but the police and independent investigator Dame Sarah Asplin judged it to be not serious. The allegation has been in no way overlooked, but subject to at least three separate investigations, and the complainant has now received compensation. Dean Percy has always denied the allegation.

I agree that the amount of discussion devoted to cathedral canons and status seems a little excessive, but TA rejoices in experts from different spheres; we all contribute according to our interests and knowledge.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Janet Fife
3 months ago

The problem with the latter, Janet, and it has been very acute in relation to Christ Church, is that people give forth ignoring (or ignorant of) what the Christ Church Statutes actually say and their legal effect. Trying to get across reasoned and accurate thinking, even quoting verbatim from the Statutes seems to make no difference; people stick to what they think how things should be! I avoid commenting on TA threads where I don’t feel able to say anything useful.

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
3 months ago

I don’t even see how people conclude from the dispute that some enormous change of structure is needed. I think all that is needed is a mechanism by which the Governing Body can express no confidence in the Dean – like the 1922 Committee mechanism for changing the leader of the Conservative Party. Had that been in place, the dispute would have been over years ago.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Kate
3 months ago

Except that you overlook that the Dean is a priest of the Church of England and Dean of a Cathedral Chapter which the Christ Church Statutes specifically declare as having “all the powers … ordinarily vested in the Dean and Chapter of a Cathedral Church”. That removal of the Dean from office under the same Statutes is possible by the actions of a largely secular body is one of the issues that some commentators feel needs to be addressed. The position of the leader of a political party could hardly be a less appropriate or relevant comparison. Let’s patiently wait… Read more »

Filigree Jones
Filigree Jones
Reply to  Janet Fife
3 months ago

Thank you for restating that, Janet. The allegation in question was indeed investigated and it did not meet the threshold of sexual harassment let alone abuse. Even if it had been proven, which it wasn’t, surely the most that could reasonably have followed would have been some words of advice and an apology. Christ Church’s attempts to leverage safeguarding in their long campaign against Martyn Percy has been one of the more revolting aspects of this whole affair. I’m starting to wonder whether there ought to be some specific guidance around the weaponising of safeguarding/ racism/ antisemitism etc which would… Read more »

Jeremy non P non A
Jeremy non P non A
Reply to  Filigree Jones
3 months ago

I’m starting to wonder whether there ought to be some specific guidance around the weaponising of safeguarding…”
Agreed. I believe that ChCh is not the first instance of such weaponisation involving the CofE.

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Paul
3 months ago

Of course any complaint of abuse should be thoroughly addressed, impartially, and without fear or favour (as Martyn Percy himself would agree). I put it to you that the antipathy towards the Governing Body of Christ Church needs to be contextualised to be understood: their disgusting witchhunt of Martyn Percy prior to this specific allegation, and the repeat behaviour and attempts to get rid of him (obviously this statement is my personal opinion, but many may choose to agree). I have family connections to Christ Church, and I feel ashamed. The Governing Body has in my view brought disgrace upon… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Paul
3 months ago

My very final word on this subject. Read the comment by Maggie above. No one is making light of the (relatively recent) abuse claim, but contrary to what you think it was not the substantive subject here: the Dean’s leaving after four years, the circumstances of it and the present set-up being ripe for reform.

Gilo
Gilo
3 months ago

Many will be writing letters to the diocese and cathedral to enquire about a farewell service. I sent mine yesterday. Dear Bishop of Oxford and Cathedral Canons of Christ Church, I imagine invitations will be sent out for attendance at a Cathedral leaving service for Martyn and Emma Percy. Can you please let me know the planned date for this service and consider me for an invitation. I recognise the Cathedral is not large and there will be many who would wish to attend – alumni, friends, colleagues, Church of England figures etc. I would like to offer a hymn… Read more »

Helen King
Helen King
Reply to  Gilo
3 months ago

Now there’s an interesting thought. The Bishop of Winchester had a ‘leaving service’. Surely Deans get them too? But is the Dean currently allowed into the cathedral? i am sure there are many people, within and beyond the diocese, who would very much want to attend such a service.

Gordon
Gordon
3 months ago

An inevitable end to a disgraceful episode. Governing Body have wasted huge amounts of charitable funds on expensive advisors, and clearly been badly advised: * If there was a genuine issue with the Dean (which many of us doubt, given the outcome of the Smith Tribunal), how did they seek to resolve it? Emails about ‘manipulative little turds’ suggest that this was playground bullying not a professional workplace attempting to resolve a conflict. And who advised them to go down the expensive route of a tribunal given they clearly didn’t have much chance of success? * The 2020 complainant has… Read more »

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