Thinking Anglicans

ISB Statement: Percy -v- Independent Safeguarding Board Case Resolved

The Independent Safeguarding Board has today issued the following statement.

Statement: Percy -v- Independent Safeguarding Board Case Resolved

The Independent Safeguarding Board (ISB) is pleased to announce a settlement in the case brought against it by Professor Martyn Percy, the former Dean of Christ Church Oxford.

Professor Percy brought the claim following his request to the Archbishops’ Council and Diocese of Oxford that there should be an independent review of the alleged weaponization of safeguarding by individuals and agencies within Church of England perpetrated against him. The Archbishops’ Council and Oxford Diocese decided to commission the ISB to conduct this review. However, Professor Percy challenged the restricted terms of the draft terms of reference set out by those commissioning the review and the previous Chair of the ISB. In the event, the court dismissed the claim brought by Dr Percy against the ISB, in part because all parties agreed that the ISB was not a legal entity against which such a claim could be brought.

At the heart of the case is the need for a rigorous review of the processes and practices of the Church of England alongside other developments at Christ Church. The ISB consider that the original review’s published terms of reference would have needed significant amendment to ensure that any independent ISB review had sufficient scope and depth.

While the ISB’s review could have made progress, the absence of an Information Sharing Agreement with the Church of England significantly hampered the continuation of the work. The review was initially paused and then discontinued by the Archbishops’ Council which decided that it should be conducted by some other person. That individual has yet to be agreed. The ISB urges the Archbishops’ Council to act with urgency to ensure that an independent review is commissioned. Professor Percy’s assertion that such a review should be led by a KC or Judge has significant merit and is one with which the ISB concurs.

ISB members met with Professor Percy, on a without prejudice basis, and had a very constructive meeting. The ISB has agreed to drop any enforcement of a costs order made against him.

Professor Percy thanked the ISB for its work and has undertaken to co-operate with it as it develops its approaches to the scrutiny and independent oversight of Church of England safeguarding.

Steve Reeves stated that “Ongoing legal action between the Independent Safeguarding Board and Professor Percy was not going to result in the independent review of the issues of concern. Children, vulnerable adults, survivors of abuse, and the public need our focus to be on providing independent oversight and scrutiny of safeguarding in the Church of England.

Jasvinder Sanghera stated that “The ISB recognises that Professor Percy has made serious allegations against Church authorities, including that there has been a deliberate weaponization of safeguarding against him. It is right that these claims are investigated without fear or favour.

Professor Percy praised the two ISB board members for their “independence, thorough determination, and undoubted commitment to ensuring that the Church of England’s safeguarding policies and practices are scrutinised and properly held to account, in line with the original aims and objectives of the ISB in response to IICSA. Proper independence in safeguarding is now an urgent matter. For example, setting up a fair and impartial Redress Scheme, which could draw on the superior modelling already practised in other parts of the Anglican Communion.

Professor Percy added: “Although there was evidence to suggest other senior individuals and bodies did not want the ISB to engage with the issues that have been raised, the board members have showed considerable tenacity, courage and determination in their work, which bodes well for the future of fully independent oversight and scrutiny in relation to Church of England safeguarding practices.

Professor Percy thanked the ISB for its work and has undertaken to co-operate with it as it develops its approaches to the scrutiny and independent oversight of Church of England safeguarding and also in supporting survivors and victims of abuse.

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Martin Sewell
Admin
11 months ago

This is plainly an outbreak of common sense within an institution that often lacks it. Dr Percy’s allegations of institutional bullying may prove to be fully or partly justified, or indeed, dismissed in their entirety. What they should never be, in a properly run institution, is ignored without proper suitably skilled evaluation.  Nobody has the right to an outcome of their choice: some cases, on analysis, simply do not meet the ordinary standards of proof or proportionality. That is the reality in all legal disputes. The only way forward is for all allegations which meet the requisite standards of seriousness,… Read more »

Janet Varty
Janet Varty
11 months ago

Only 1 reply. The silence is deafening!

Martin Sewell
Martin Sewell
Reply to  Janet Varty
11 months ago

Sometimes the absence of reply is indicative of the overwhelming force of the argument – it speaks for itself. I can however open the debate a little. I think the imposition on the ISB members of a Chair with plain conflict of interest ( BBC Chair anyone..? ) in breach of the specific terms of reference for such appointments, coupled with an instruction not to engage with survivors on the issue of lack of independence, confirms in the ISB members minds that Dr Percy has a point about institutional bullying. They have now themselves been the subject of a discreditable… Read more »

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  Janet Varty
11 months ago

This is such obvious good news that there is probably nothing that there is necessary to say.

Who would have predicted a year ago that Martyn Percy and the members of the ISB would have combined in common cause against the CofE hierarchy.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Simon Dawson
11 months ago

We live in strange times, but this is certainly a heartening development.

Kate Andreyev
Kate Andreyev
11 months ago

Martyn Percy is quite right to insist on a properly independent and rigorous investigation. The issues are serious.

Froghole
Froghole
11 months ago

“In the event, the court dismissed the claim brought by Dr Percy against the ISB, in part because all parties agreed that the ISB was not a legal entity against which such a claim could be brought.” My understanding, from reportage last October, is that this was a claim in the Oxford county court, the amount claimed being in the region of £7k (therefore, on the small claims track). Dr Percy had asserted that the TOR for the investigation he wanted undertaken by the ISB were inadequate. The district judge held that the claim was misconceived because of the ISB’s… Read more »

David Lamming
David Lamming
Reply to  Froghole
11 months ago

Froghole, one small correction (I’ll comment in more detail anon). Your and, I would suggest, everyone’s thanks are due to Jasvinder Sanghera and her ISB colleague, Steve Reeves, for this sensible outcome. Following the resignation of the original ISB chair, Maggie Atkinson, at the end of March, Jasvinder and Steve are, currently, the only two Board members. As I understand the position, Meg Munn (who, effectively, has been imposed on Jasvinder and Steve as acting chair by the Archbishops’ Council, without any consultation and in breach of the ISB’s ToR) is not due to take up the role until 1… Read more »

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Froghole
11 months ago

It’s more than that. These ISB declarations (and others concerning resources etc) are recommendations by the body which church authorities claim is the independent safeguarding body. Is the church going to listen to its independent safeguarding body?

Susannah Clark
11 months ago

The ISB consider that the original review’s published terms of reference would have needed significant amendment to ensure that any independent ISB review had sufficient scope and depth.”

This point has been mentioned here before. The parameters set by the Church of England ran the risk of isolating some specific actions, when context required investigation of what had been going on long before, and a pattern of behaviour.

Martin Sewell
Martin Sewell
11 months ago

In another context a very wise priest on General Synod, remarking on local Churches setting up independent projects made the remark “When you give – let go”.

The CofE needs to hold to that advice when it comes to respecting the independence of its ISB members.

Why on earth compromise the members by foisting someone onto to them as Chair whose presence plainly and fundamentally compromises the independence of the whole project?

K. Anonymous
K. Anonymous
Reply to  Martin Sewell
11 months ago

This astonishing and unexpected turn of events is gladsome news. For those of us who for some years have been abused and unlawfully treated by safeguarding core groups it is hoped that the winds of change will at last bring justice. Our very grateful thanks to Jasvinder Sanghera, Steve Reeves, Dean Martyn Percy and Martin Sewell for their tenacity in bringing this about.

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