Updated 23 March and again 24 March
Two separate news reports have been published today:
Much of this article reports an online AGM meeting last Saturday of the Christ Church Association which represents 9,000 past and present members of the college, and which spent 50 minutes scrutinising Christ Church’s treatment of its head, Dean Martyn Percy, which was strongly defended by Canon Sarah Foot, who referred to the recently published report by Sir Wyn Williams.
It also reports on a legal opinion commissioned by friends of the Dean, Edward Fitzgerald QC, a specialist in human rights law and joint head of Doughty Street Chambers in London, and his colleague Paul Harris. They conclude that it would be “unlawful and improper to convene a second tribunal”. They go on to say that if the complaints were proven, “… it seems very doubtful whether those facts could be regarded by any reasonable tribunal as sufficient to merit the severe sanction of dismissal…The sustained, repeated and entirely groundless campaign to drive the dean from his job would seem to fall within the definition of harassment in Sections 2 and 7 of the Protection from Harassment Act, 1997.”
This news report describes the safeguarding risk assessment measures taken by the College and Chapter, that were approved by Richard Woodley,the Oxford Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser, who said:
“…because this was an “interim assessment of risk” rather than a formal risk assessment, it did not need to comply with the Safeguarding (Clergy Risk Assessment) Regulations 2016, which stipulate, among other things, that the person being assessed be consulted and given 14 days to query it, and, when it involved “certain facts which are in dispute . . . must set out the matter and the nature and the extent of the dispute”.
Also, it was an error for the name of the consultant who conducted an investigation into the alleged incident, to have appeared on the risk assessment document. Kate Wood said:
“I have never undertaken a risk assessment in this matter or been party to the assessment of risk in any regard. I have never even seen the risk assessments conducted by the college and cathedral. My role was to conduct an initial investigation into the allegations of sexual harassment. This is a very different role to conducting a risk assessment. . .
“…I asked the college several times to publicly explain the error and to confirm that I had not conducted a risk assessment. I also asked the college to engage with those people who had been most vocal in criticising me on this false narrative. This public correction does not appear to have happened, though I am told that the error has now been corrected on the document.”
A spokesperson for Christ Church confirmed that Ms Wood’s name had been incorrectly included in an early “risk assessment draft”.
The Church Times also reports on the progress of the CDM action against the Dean: the Bishop of Birmingham, to whom the responsibility has been delegated by the Bishop of Oxford, has decided to proceed to the tribunal stage, despite the Dean being unable to respond to the complaint due to illness.
Updates (items published on 21 March)
Surviving Church Averting a catastrophe in the Church of England. Is it too late
Oxford Diocese has published this (24 March): The Very Revd. Professor Martyn Percy which links to a letter from the Sub Dean. The same material is on the Christ Church website: Response from Christ Church Cathedral to public speculation.