Thinking Anglicans

Christ Church Oxford to act on complaint against Dean

Updated again Wednesday
See previous item.

press release from Christ Church

Further statement in response to media interest
12 January 2021

Christ Church’s Governing Body and Cathedral Chapter have decided to take forward internal disciplinary proceedings, following a complaint that was reported in October 2020. These proceedings are part of Christ Church’s HR procedures for dealing with employment issues, as set out in its Statutes.

We fully recognise that this has been an extremely distressing time for each of the parties involved, exacerbated by high levels of media interest and the strong feelings the case has generated. It is now crucial that this internal disciplinary matter is left to be resolved, formally and properly, through the correct procedures, which will include the appointment of an external, independent chair. These procedures exist to protect all of our staff, students and congregants, and Christ Church as a whole, in equal measure.

Updates

Archbishop Cranmer has already published a further article on this: Martyn Percy is a ‘sex pest’: Christ Church Oxford in new attempt to oust the Dean
This contains much information about the letter from the Reverend Jonathan Aitken to the Chapter, mentioned here earlier, but also it reproduces the reply to him from the Reverend Canon Graham Ward. The whole article is worth reading.

The Church Times has now (Wednesday) published Dean of Christ Church faces new attempt to remove him from office. This contains a good deal of additional information about the internal disciplinary process to date, and what may happen in the future, and also summarises the status of the separate Clergy Discipline Measure action which is, apparently, proceeding in parallel.

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Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
15 days ago

Worth quoting from the Statutes: Statute XXXIX – Part VII at 43(b):

“In nominating members of the Tribunal, the Chapter and the Governing Body shall exclude the Dean, and any person who has been involved in or associated with the making of the complaint or any part of it, or who has been involved in any preliminary hearing or investigation.”

Susannah Clark
15 days ago

“the correct procedures, which will include the appointment of an external, independent chair…” …and how can trust in the process be engendered if the appointment of the ‘independent chair’ is made by the very people who have been waging what I perceive to be a historic vendetta against the Dean? I totally agree that independent and professional people should be used in handling allegations of abuse – people experienced in this specific area and recognised as having specialist excellence in this exact field. I totally agree that any complaint of abuse should be handled with utmost seriousness. We should always… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
15 days ago
Reply to  Susannah Clark

Susannah: If you are unaware, the independent chair in the previous internal tribunal was a retired High Court Judge. You could hardly get more independent than that.

Susannah Clark
15 days ago

Thank you Rowland. That is very true. However I simply don’t trust this Governing Body to do the right thing, given what I perceive to be their malicious persecution of Martyn Percy. Context matters, when it comes to navigating this Body’s actions. I do not trust them to operate with good intent. Clearly there are two important issues here: there is a woman’s plea for recognition of her complaint – and that should be handled scrupulously and independently – ideally, in my view, not by an appointee of the College, as I simply don’t trust their machinations. Secondly, there is… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
15 days ago
Reply to  Susannah Clark

Susannah: There is also a concurrent CDM on the same subject which the Bishop of Oxford has delegated to the Bishop of Birmingham. The CDM was initiated first.

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
15 days ago

Could somebody please remind me why the Bishop of Oxford is standing back from this process, in fact seems to be standing back from the entire situation. Is there a history to this that I am unaware of? Thanks

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
14 days ago
Reply to  Simon Dawson

I don’t pretend to know how it is possible for there to be a concurrent CDM against the Dean and the intended Christ Church internal tribunal on the same subject matter with the chance that there could be conflicting outcomes. I imagine the Bishop has recused himself on the same basis as Archbishop Sentamu did in the case of the CDM against the former Bishop of Chester: personal intimate acquaintance and to avoid any suggestion of lack of impartiality.

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
14 days ago

It seems to me such people are recusing themselves because of spineless cowardice and lack of moral courage.

Last edited 14 days ago by Richard W. Symonds
Janet Fife
Janet Fife
14 days ago

The Bishop of Birmingham is a strange choice, since there are serious questions about his handling of safeguarding matters; particularly in the Tom Walker case.That case was mishandled throughout and he Bp. Urquhart ws criticised in the review. Then the victim was made to sign an NDA before being allowed to see the (redacted) review report into her own case.

It would have been better to have chosen a bishop with more credibility.

Alyson Peberdy
Alyson Peberdy
15 days ago
Reply to  Susannah Clark

I very much support what you say Susannah

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
14 days ago
Reply to  Susannah Clark

May I point out, gently but very firmly, that which is obvious to anyone with moral eyes wide open [rather than moral eyes wide shut]: What is happening to Martyn Percy at the hands of the Christ Church governing body is almost exactly the same as what is happening to Bishop Bell at the hands of the Church of England hierarchy – the only difference being that one is living and the other one dead. The parallels are astonishingly similar. Both issues necessitate the same solution: A fully independent body. Perhaps the only way to resolve this, in both cases,… Read more »

Last edited 14 days ago by Richard W. Symonds
Jane Chevous
13 days ago
Reply to  Susannah Clark

Thank you for saying what you do about a climate of provisional belief. If one advocates for a fair hearing for Martyn Percy by minimising or gaslighting the woman concerned, one is no better than the college dons so criticised. It is important for all victims that we see her complaint taken seriously and that she is treated with respect and compassion

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
13 days ago
Reply to  Jane Chevous

We have a fine line to tread here. All complainants must be taken seriously and treated with respect and compassion. All complaints must be investigated thoroughly by expert and independent professionals. In a pastoral or therapeutic context, we treat claims to have been abused as genuine. However, in public discourse, as in legal contexts, until the offence has been proved we speak of the ‘alleged’ abuser and the ‘alleged’ victim. Otherwise we violate the cardinal precept of law that the accused is innocent until proved guilty; and we risk destroying the reputation, career, health, and home of someone who may… Read more »

Susannah Clark
13 days ago
Reply to  Jane Chevous

Absolutely agree. We owe it to all victims of abuse to create a ‘climate of belief’ and there’s a real danger that, if complainants’ claims are belittled or disbelieved, that others will find it impossible to find the very great courage necessary to come forward. Again and again, there have been examples of victims ‘not being taken seriously’, especially when it involves the great and good. Conversely, it is an amazing and therapeutic experience, when a person finds the courage to come forward, and they are listened to with a strong and receptive willingness to believe. In the case in… Read more »

Martin Sewell
Martin Sewell
13 days ago
Reply to  Susannah Clark

Susannah, I worked in this field for three decades representing every kind of party. That experience gives one perspective. I go back to the Cleveland Report of 1987 where the experts correctly identified that your suggestion was wrong. In Cleveland over a hundred children were wrongly removed from families because of a mantra propagated by a bonkers paediatrician not dissimilar to what you are inadvertently advancing. It sounds reasonable but is actually very dangerous. The Courts – where there are very few complaints as to the integrity of the processes and outcomes – apply the alternative “ Always listen to… Read more »

Susannah Clark
12 days ago
Reply to  Martin Sewell

Er… Martin… I’m pretty sure I agree with you! “The Courts… apply the alternative “Always listen to the complainant and take what they say seriously”. “ “Only rigorously good process run by people with knowledge experience and expertise is acceptable.” I think you may have misunderstood what I was trying to communicate. From personal experience, I think it is highly constructive that the complainant believes that, as they detail their claim, the listener signals that they are open to what is being said, and the possibility that it is true. That is what I meant by “a climate of provisional… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
12 days ago
Reply to  Susannah Clark

“…what I fear acutely is that other women would have their cases treated like ‘Carol’ ‘s was in the Bell case: mishandled with inadequate professionalism, then turned into a circus, where a clear climate of disbelief about the perpetrator was created. At the heart of that was an inability to believe that a great and good man could do something bad”

Susannah, would you please stop peddling untruths about the Bell case.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
12 days ago
Reply to  Susannah Clark

Susannah: It has been demonstrated, time and again, that ‘Carol’ and Bishop Bell were served badly, inexcusably so, by the ‘investigation’ procedure (one could say non-procedure) with knowledge, experience and expertise totally lacking (one could add, equally, lack of fairness) to the detriment of both parties. I think that no one doubts the sincerity of Carol’s claim. That is not the point: justice was manifestly not done either to Carol or Bishop Bell or, one can add, his surviving family. With respect, it’s not a good example for people to keep quoting. Had it been done properly, Carol would not… Read more »

Kate
Kate
12 days ago
Reply to  Susannah Clark

I would add complainants don’t want to hear “That’s not a big deal, is it?”. Quite separate from believing complainants we must not trivialise their experience.

God 'elp us all
God 'elp us all
15 days ago

So there ..
It is now crucial that this internal disciplinary matter is left to be resolved, formally and properly, through the correct procedures, which will include the appointment of an external, independent chair.
So- put up AND shut up?
Let the stones cry out … what a shambles, what a shower.

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
15 days ago

“The harrowing of Martyn Percy is no longer simply a chronic case of institutional bullying, systematic degradation and harassment, but a full-blown conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. Godspeed the Judicial Review” ~ ‘Archbishop Cranmer’

Last edited 15 days ago by Richard W. Symonds
robert
robert
14 days ago

Graham Ward claims to know nothing of the Surviving Church blog (see the Cranmer article), and yet that blog entry was withdrawn and then revised presumably because of legal attention – but from whom then? Is Ward denying that pressure didn’t come from Christ Church – or are the authorities at Christ Church not talking to Ward either?

Stephen Parsons
Stephen Parsons
14 days ago

In the original version of the blog post, I suggested that there were things that did not add up in the narrative of the appointment of Kate Wood. She claimed to be in total prior ignorance about the case beforehand, knowing nothing of the shenanigans at Christ Church. She, a professional who had worked in safeguarding for the central Church some years before, protested that she had never heard of Dean Percy, Canon Ward and another of the complainants Canon Foot. I withdrew my incredulity and the expressions of disbelief in what I said in the second version of the blog. I also… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
14 days ago

Yes, “stitch-up” for both Martyn and the lady complainant.

It stinks of perverted justice at a very high level indeed.

Last edited 14 days ago by Richard W. Symonds
David Lamming
David Lamming
14 days ago

Stephen, The Governing Body may have wished to appoint a member (or members) to the ‘first’ Tribunal in 2018/19, but they were prevented from doing so by the terms of clause 43(a) of the Statutes: 43.(a) The Tribunal appointed under clause 42 shall comprise: (i) an independent Chairman; and (ii) so many members of the Chapter as may be nominated by the Chapter; and (iii) an equivalent number of members of the Governing Body to be nominated by the Governing Body. The significant words in 43(a)(ii) are “as may be nominated by the Chapter”. So, there is no obligation on… Read more »

Last edited 14 days ago by David Lamming
Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
14 days ago
Reply to  robert

I believe Stephen Parsons of ‘Surviving Church’ withdrew his original blog entry because of Kate Wood raising legal concerns (libel).

Whatever the truth of the matter, for Graham Ward to say he was ignorant of what ‘Surviving Church’ was saying, means he is incompetently misinformed about what is going on – and he has lost his ‘moral compass’.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
14 days ago

I don’t think the provisions about constitution of the tribunal have been correctly summarised in the ‘Church Times’ article. What the Statutes actually say is this: “The Tribunal appointed [under clause 42] shall comprise: (i) an independent Chairman; and (ii) so many members of the Chapter as may be nominated by the Chapter; and (iii) an equivalent number of members of the Governing Body to be nominated by the Governing Body.” An interesting point. The CT states that there were no nominations from the Chapter ‘last time’, but the Governing Body was represented. 0 = 0. The point is now… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
14 days ago

I have been informed that the Governing Body was not represented on the previous internal tribunal and it was agreed that Sir Andrew Smith should act alone, with the Dean consenting. Stephen Parsons has explained above that a different approach is being contemplated this time.

Kate
Kate
14 days ago

This feels like the point at which it is in the interests of both college and the Dean (but not necessarily the Complainant) to reach a financial settlement sufficient for the Dean to depart without either party incurring the cost / burden of the tribunal.

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
13 days ago
Reply to  Kate

It’s a witch-hunt. If Martyn Percy can return to good health – which is easier said than done in the circumstances – why should he depart under pressure from what can only be called an elite ‘lynch mob’?

Last edited 13 days ago by Richard W. Symonds
Susannah Clark
13 days ago

That’s my view too. While I’m being unapologetically Godwinian, if people had failed to resist Hitler on grounds of cost, and nice Mr Chamberlain had come to an arrangement with Hitler… well… then (in my opinion) bullies get their way. A nice polite settlement where Martyn Percy leaves is *exactly* the kind of outcome this (frankly far from elite) group of people seem to me to have been working to achieve. Of course, only Martyn Percy himself can know the harrowing impact this (what I perceive as) harrassment has had on his personal well-being, and the well-being of those he… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
13 days ago
Reply to  Susannah Clark

Susannah: Please see my reply to Kate! There is a current C of E CDM which is independent of the action being taken by Christ Church. A moment’s reflection on that should make it apparent how inappropriate your final paragraph is.

Susannah Clark
12 days ago

Rowland, I have observed that you have followed the Martyn Percy situation pretty closely over time and I respect your opinion. You may need to help me out a little (if you want). I simply can’t see that it would be inappropriate, at least some time soon, for the church to recognise that one of their priests is in an invidious situation, facing possible vendetta and harrassment, and join the calls for a judicial review. That’s not to take sides, but to seek detailed scrutiny of what’s been going on, and seek a just and independent assessment. However, what I… Read more »

Last edited 12 days ago by Susannah Clark
David Lamming
David Lamming
12 days ago
Reply to  Susannah Clark

Susannah, In answer to your specific question, the current CDM complaint against Dean Percy relates solely to what is alleged to have occurred in the cathedral sacristy on 4 October 2020 and which has been the subject of media reports in the Mail on Sunday on 22 November 2020 and by Andrew Billen in his feature article in The Times on 16 December 2020.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
12 days ago
Reply to  Susannah Clark

Susannah: I have only just seen your post which I don’t think made it into the ‘recent comments’ list. That happens when many come in to TA and the most recent ones get listed. I’m grateful to David Lamming for his reply. No one can forecast the outcome of the CDM or the Christ Church Internal Tribunal, nor would one wish to speculate here. It’s a matter for all of us to wait to see what happens.

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
12 days ago

 “It’s a matter for all of us to wait to see what happens” I don’t agree RW. Here is the final paragraphof Stephen Parsons most recent insightful piece on Church power dynamics – over at ‘Surviving Church’: The situation of Martyn Percy at Christ Church presents us with an extremely complicated power diagram. Although there is an alleged ‘victim’ somewhere on an imagined chart, it is hard to see that she has become in any way at the real centre of this complex power struggle. What seems to be true is that powerful individuals in the College have been waiting for something… Read more »

Kate
Kate
12 days ago

In most organisations he would have been removed ages ago “because he has lost the confidence of the leadership team”. It’s harsh but anyone who takes a senior role in most organisations knows that’s part of the deal.

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
12 days ago
Reply to  Kate

Kate, there are many organisations which have ‘gone to the wall’ because a corrupted “leadership team” [eg Board of Directors] have forced its managing director out because s/he is saying truths they do not want to hear.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
13 days ago
Reply to  Kate

Kate: I don’t think that suggestion can relate in any way to the present situation: the actuality of (1) a CDM on the part of the Church plus (2) an intended internal Christ Church disciplinary tribunal, both relating to the incident (correctly we have to say alleged incident) involving the woman in the Cathedral vestry. Neither could be ‘resolved’ by a financial deal.

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
13 days ago

Dean Martyn Percy refuses to co-operate regarding the memorials at Christ Church, and strongly criticizes the Church regarding Bishop Bell. Dean Martyn Percy gets ‘thrown under the bus’ by hidden powerful forces . Dean Martyn Percy suffers orchestrated attempts to oust him by smear campaign and character assassination. Dean Martyn Percy loses any chance of becoming a Bishop. Bishop of Chichester Martin Warner co-operates [eg regarding the memorials at Chichester Cathedral – including George Bell House et al – and does not criticize the Church regarding Bishop Bell [quite the opposite, in fact]. Bishop of Chichester Martin Warner’s ‘co-operation’ is rewarded with… Read more »

Last edited 13 days ago by Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
13 days ago

It has been drawn to my attention that my statement below is inaccurate: “Bishop of Chichester Martin Warner co-operates [eg regarding the memorials at Chichester Cathedral – including George Bell House et al – and does not criticize the Church regarding Bishop Bell [quite the opposite, in fact]. Bishop of Chichester Martin Warner’s ‘co-operation’ is rewarded with promotion to Lord Bishop by Archbishop Welby” Apparently, subject to the provisions of the Lords Spiritual (Women) Act 2015, the twenty-one Church of England bishops in the House of Lords – in addition to the five ex officio [Canterbury, York, London, Durham and Winchester] – are there… Read more »

Last edited 13 days ago by Richard W. Symonds
Stanley Monkhouse
13 days ago

A general comment. https://www.youtube.com/watch?fbclid=IwAR3spFtfVhNz8XryJMU7D6INBCkCpIC9_zWrwQRUeXJrjJ4TstnaA-QE1DU&v=KYGs7N1F7-E&feature=youtu.be Here is an Irish TD’s (= MP) extraordinarily powerful speech in the Dail (Irish parliament) coruscating the current Taoiseach (PM, sat there) and the church and civil authorities of the past. It is all the more powerful for her measured tone. The light of her rage shines through to illuminate the path to redemption. Will the authorities take it? This is a manifestation of the demonic conjunction of the power of the institutional church in what was then a quasi-theocracy, and the spineless collusion of the authorities. It’s the same but different here with the powerful… Read more »

Marise Hargreaves
Marise Hargreaves
12 days ago

Thank you for posting the link. It is a powerful speech by someone with lived experience speaking the absolute truth to power. I hope, like her, firm action follows and an end to the poor schemes and poor report with false conclusions. I also wonder if there is anyone in Parliament who will speak the truth about the corruption within the church and it’s abuse of power. Deputy Connolly and those working with her deserve to be praised by action she spells out – for survivors proper compensation and support, and the prosecution of those who have been part of… Read more »

Michael
Michael
12 days ago

Is there an MP in this country who is willing to take on the Church of England for its truly shocking treatment of those abused by its processes and representatives?
Stanley I hope that does turn out to be so. Today the entire government in Holland has resigned, when found wanting. Any hope that the dons at Christ Church will find the same gene of accountability. Or the House of Bishops? They do not understand how cathartic it is for victims, when there is a full and proper response.

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
12 days ago
Reply to  Michael

In 2018, all 33 Roman Catholic bishops in Chile offered their resignations en masse to the Pope in the light of their culpability regarding the Church’s sex abuse cover-up scandal:

https://richardwsymonds.wordpress.com/2020/08/30/may-18-2018-chiles-bishops-offer-to-resign-en-masse-over-sex-abuse-cover-up-los-angeles-times/

In 2021, perhaps all Church of England bishops should do the same – offering their resignations en masse to the Supreme Governor of the Church of England Her Majesty The Queen?

David Lamming
David Lamming
12 days ago

Richard—
While not endorsing your suggestion (and purely for information, without wishing to start a diversionary thread running), you may wish to note that it was ‘On this day’ in 1535 that “Henry VIII was proclaimed the supreme head [sic] of the Church of England, thus excluding papal authority.” (The Times, 16 January 2021, page 29)

Savi Hensman
Savi Hensman
13 days ago

While allegations of possible inappropriate behaviour or harassment should be taken seriously and people should take care not to trivialise the matter, how concerns are handled and disciplinary measures (if any) should be proportionate. Past actions of the governing body of Christ Church and C of E leaders and the current approach make it all the harder to resolve the matter in a way in which justice is done and seen to be done.

Froghole
Froghole
12 days ago

Mention has been made of resignations. In my experience, the propensity to resign is invariably in direct correlation to the private means or ‘security’ of the person intending to resign. The bishops in Chile presumably felt able to resign because the RCC will ensure their financial and domestic security from ordination to the grave. With respect to the Netherlands, it presumably helps that its pensions system is rated the best, or nearly the best, in the world, although what benefits are accorded to former public officials is moot. The Greens have brought down the Rutte ministry in the wake of… Read more »

John Wallace
John Wallace
12 days ago
Reply to  Froghole

A good friend of mine hypothesised that when bishops designate they spent the night at
Lambeth on a special bed whereon their spines were removed. Sadly with a very few exceptions, this seems to be the case. Cabinet responsibility should not be part of this

Stanley Monkhouse
12 days ago
Reply to  John Wallace

Being a medic/zoologist before taking orders, I see the process for male bishops as having an additional component. The mitre covers the eyes so they see not, the ears so they hear not, the mouth so they speak not anything of value, then pretty quickly it falls and covers the pubic region so they … well, let’s just say they are emasculated. No balls at all. Mind you, I’ve sometimes thought that’s what happens to quite a few males including me who cross the threshold of church. I haven’t quite worked out what happens in this scheme to women bishops.… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
12 days ago
Reply to  John Wallace

Many thanks, Mr Wallace!

I suspect you may well be right, although there are some bishops – Alan Wilson being a striking example – who do seem to have a creditable abundance of backbone.

Speaking of Buckinghamshire, there was a typo in my post: it’s Dinton, and not Denton. Apologies for that.

David Williams
David Williams
12 days ago
Reply to  John Wallace

I went home and slept in my own bed on the night of 18th September 2014. I cant guarantee that I havent had the spinal surgery though.

Last edited 12 days ago by David Williams
Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
12 days ago
Reply to  Froghole

“The bishops in Chile presumably felt able to resign because the RCC will ensure their financial and domestic security from ordination to the grave” – ‘Froghole’

I would question that presumption.

Froghole
Froghole
11 days ago

Of the 34 bishops who tendered their resignations, 7 had their resignations accepted, and two have been laicised (one of whom, Marco Ordenes, formerly bishop of Iquique, is supposedly living a life of ‘prayer and penitence’ in Peru; quite how he supports himself without subventions from the RCC is moot: he had been charged with the repeated abuse of a 15 year old boy whilst a bishop). The former archbishop of Santiago, Ricardo Card. Erzatti (whose current legal difficulties are well known, since has himself been accused of rape and bribery) resigned in 2019 only because he had reached the… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
12 days ago

When we talk of “survivors” I think we also need to include those clergy [and others] who have unjustly fallen victim to, but survived, the Church’s ‘weaponised’ Core Group process and cruel CDM procedures. There are many hundreds – perhaps thousands – of clergy [and others] who have suffered [and are suffering] under these unjust and cruel systems. How many committed suicide? [I know of one locally] How many attempted suicide? How many suffered [or are suffering] marital breakdown and family break-up? How many suffered [or are suffering] mental breakdown and physical debilitation? How many have been broken [or are… Read more »

Last edited 12 days ago by Richard W. Symonds
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