We reported on 19 November 2020 A new complaint about the Dean of Christ Church.
Since then we have also linked to several comment articles published on Surviving Church and Archbishop Cranmer relating to this, in particular (and in reverse date order) on 9 January, 2 January, and 9 December. Some of the linked articles contain fragments of information about developments in this case.
Today and yesterday, two news articles have appeared in mainstream media, both unfortunately behind paywalls, but here are the links, with their headlines, anyway:
Telegraph Camilla Turner Dean of Christ Church faces fresh attempt to be ousted
Times Andrew Billen Oxford college accused of ‘toxic’ bid to paint dean Martyn Percy as a sex pest
Both Christ Church and the Oxford diocese have issued statements (full texts copied below)
The Christ Church statement contains no reference to this incident still being treated as a Safeguarding matter, contrary to earlier reports. The Diocesan statement confirms that a CDM action is still proceeding. TA understands that Oxford diocesan officials, including the bishop, have recused themselves from participation in that action.
The Telegraph reports:
The College’s governing body and the chapter of the cathedral are due to vote on Monday on whether Dr Percy should be taken to an internal tribunal that could see him removed from office. This… follows an alleged incident which took place in Christ Church cathedral in October, where it is claimed that he stroked a woman’s hair and complimented her on her appearance.
The Times article includes this:
Few in the Church of England have voiced their concerns about a complicated affair over which the church has little say. Many, including the Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Rev Steven Croft, appear satisfied that Christ Church has acted responsibly over the latest complaint.
But Rev [Angela] Tilby told The Times: “The difference this time is that the patient machinations of those on the cathedral chapter who have consistently plotted against the dean have now borne fruit with other cathedral clergy apparently actively working for his sacking on the grounds of him being a ‘sex pest’. The mixture of malevolence and naivety is toxic and extremely disturbing in an institution supposedly dedicated to education, learning and holiness.”
Christ Church confirmed yesterday that the governing body would review its investigator’s report alongside the advice of an independent QC.
Both news reports mention that Jonathan Aitken has written to the Cathedral Chapter about the latest developments. In his letter he explains that if the Chapter endorses the Governing Body’s action (expected on Monday) to proceed with a new tribunal, he will seek a Judicial Review in the High Court. and outlines the legal and financial risks involved, both for the Chapter and its individual members. He also makes three suggestions for alternative courses of action by the Chapter.
Christ Church statement:
Updated January 9, 2021
In response to ongoing media speculation, Christ Church has issued the following statement:
“Christ Church unequivocally condemns sexual harassment in any form. When a current member of Christ Church staff made an allegation of sexual harassment against a senior member in October 2020, we followed our formal internal processes. It is important that every member of our community has the right to come forward and make such a complaint.
“Christ Church, as an employer, a charity, and an educational institution, will always treat such an allegation with the utmost seriousness. There have been attempts to suggest that this allegation is connected to historic matters at Christ Church. There is no truth in this and to suggest otherwise is an insult to the victim.
“Christ Church appointed an independent investigator to look into this incident, to interview all relevant parties and witnesses, and to produce a report. Governing Body will now consider the report, and the advice of an independent QC, to decide whether an internal disciplinary process should follow to consider the allegation and decide upon any subsequent sanctions. Christ Church’s statutes state the form this process must take.
“We regret that any public statement is required at this stage, before a decision has been reached. However, since the complaint was made, there have been numerous attempts to identify, intimidate and gaslight the victim both directly and through the media. The victim showed great bravery in coming forward, and we have provided appropriate support in the face of the further harassment they have faced.
“Some, through the media, have also accused Christ Church of taking the allegation too seriously, claiming the matter should be disregarded or treated more leniently. We believe such suggestions are highly inappropriate, and would collude with cultures which aim to silence victims of sexual harassment.”
The Diocese of Oxford has also issued a new statement which can be found here.
Oxford Diocese statement:
9 January 2020
Following further media reports, the Diocese has issued this statement
Bishop Steven continues to hold the difficult situation at Christ Church in prayer and, where possible, is in regular contact with all involved. We are disappointed that anyone should seek to downplay the severity of the complaint. It is entirely right that allegations against clergy and church officers are properly investigated when they are made, and all parties supported — particularly those who have brought the complaint.
Christ Church Oxford is unique as a dual foundation comprising both College and Cathedral. In November last year, the Bishop of Oxford agreed with the Very Revd Martyn Percy, Dean of Christ Church, that Martyn would step back from office while a complaint, which was brought to the Church under the Clergy Discipline Measure (CDM), is investigated. The complaint is also being considered by Christ Church, in accordance with their internal processes and statutes. It is a separate process and independent of the Church.