Thinking Anglicans

Christ Church to Commission Independent Review

Updated Saturday morning

Our last update on this subject was on 8 February: Christ Church Oxford: further developments.
Now comes this, from the website of Christ Church, Oxford:

Christ Church to Commission Independent Review

17 February 2021

Christ Church’s Governing Body has voted to carry out an independent review regarding the handling of a serious sexual harassment complaint, in order to confirm the disciplinary process it has put in place. The complaint was made last October by a junior member of staff against a senior member.

Last month, Governing Body addressed the complaint through its internal disciplinary procedures, but these have been questioned repeatedly by some in the media, while the motives of the complainant have been publicly challenged. While it is fully confident of the decisions it has made on this matter, Governing Body agreed that it wanted to respond to the queries that have been raised in a transparent manner. It felt that an external review would be the best way of ensuring that the complaint can be properly and swiftly dealt with for the sake of all those involved.

Governing Body’s decision follows a letter written by Christ Church student representatives to the Charity Commission, which stresses the importance of urgently addressing any allegation of sexual harassment. Christ Church’s internal HR processes are dictated by its statutes, and in this case require a tribunal to be set up to consider any appropriate disciplinary action.

A spokesperson for Christ Church commented:

“We entirely share our students’ concerns that a complaint of sexual harassment by this young member of staff must be treated with the utmost seriousness. That is exactly why last month we put our formal internal HR processes into action, and we are entirely confident these are the correct and necessary steps. However, we believe that an external, independent review will provide further reassurance about the decisions that were taken, and a way forward for all involved.”

Christ Church has begun the immediate process of identifying and appointing a Chair for the independent review and agreeing its terms of reference. It is expected that the Chair will be a senior figure from the judiciary.

Separately, Christ Church has reiterated its condemnation of attempts, through the press, social media and on a number of blogs, to gaslight and intimidate the complainant, their supporters, and the independent investigator who carried out a preliminary investigation into the allegation. Given the repeated leaking of confidential, personal information, Christ Church has reported a data breach to the Information Commissioner’s Office.

Update Saturday morning

Gabriella Swerling at the Telegraph has this: Dean of Christ Church can’t pray in his own cathedral without permission.

In addition to reporting the additional independent review, this article describes a number of restrictions placed by the College on the Dean, some of which are denied in a further statement by the College to the Telegraph.

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Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
14 days ago

‘Might is Right’ and ‘Sledgehammer to crack a Nut’ join forces in the Theatre of the Insane

Mike Dobson
Mike Dobson
14 days ago

One of the pithy insights that comes up, again and again, every time I take part in safeguarding training is that abusers will spare no energy in their attempts to insist that they are the virtuous ones, or even the victims; while being completely oblivious to the damage they inflict on their victims as their tactics become more aggressive and diversionary.

The College’s Governing Body is obviously doing its best to conform to this model.

John Wallace
John Wallace
13 days ago

Or are they just hoping that this will pacify the Charity Commission?

Anthony Archer
Anthony Archer
13 days ago

Yet another retired High Court judge to be forced to admit that s/he is utterly bemused.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
13 days ago

It’s remarkable that this group of elite academics should commission an independent review stating beforehand that it will prove their case. Don’t they know that it’s not done to start research expecting it to prove your hypothesis – let alone to announce beforehand what the result will be?

Kate
Kate
13 days ago
Reply to  Janet Fife

How embarrassing

Kate
Kate
13 days ago

“Given the repeated leaking of confidential, personal information, Christ Church has reported a data breach to the Information Commissioner’s Office..”
 
…but plans to share deeply personal data with an external reviewer, not to progress the complaint, but simply to review Christ Church procedures.

Filigree Jones
Filigree Jones
13 days ago

Not so long ago a bishop suggested to me that I might apply for a post at Christ Church Oxford. As I said to them at the time, nothing could have induced me. The problems at Christ Church go well beyond the relational, the political and the legal, although all those dimensions exist and must be addressed. They are first and foremost spiritual. In this broad Church of England of ours we will have different ways of describing what we are observing. Coming from a tradition that recognises spiritual evil as an Actual Thing I would say that the demons… Read more »

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
10 days ago
Reply to  Filigree Jones

Thank you for the reminder.

David Lamming
David Lamming
10 days ago

Further to my letter in The Times today (22 February) the statement on the Christ Church website is both self-serving and disingenuous . In saying that the Governing Body (GB) “has voted to carry out an independent review regarding the handling of a serious sexual harassment complaint, in order to confirm the disciplinary process it has put in place” the GB is assuming the outcome: hardly the correct approach of supposedly learned academics when testing a proposition! As Janet Fife has already commented on this thread: “Don’t they know that it’s not done to start research expecting it to prove your… Read more »

David Lamming
David Lamming
10 days ago

[… continuation] 5. College statutes did not “require a tribunal to be set up to consider any appropriate disciplinary action” in this case. That is disingenuous and a misstatement of the statutes. Under the Statutes (clause 42 in part VII – Removal of Dean from Office): “If it appears both (a) to the Governing Body; and (b) to the Chapter on the available material that the complaint is supported by sufficient evidence which could, if proved, constitute good cause for the removal of the Dean from office, the Governing Body and the Chapter, exclusive of the Dean shall jointly appoint a tribunal… Read more »

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