Thinking Anglicans

London diocese fraud case: Martin Sargeant sentenced

Back in October, Martin Sargeant pleaded guilty to fraud. The Cburch Times reported this: Sargeant pleads guilty in £5-million fraud case. Today, he was sentenced by the court.

Reports:

Press releases:

The Evening Standard includes this information:

…Sargeant, who grew up in Bournemouth, was handed a community order in 1992 for theft by employee and was jailed for 21 months on 1995 for offences including 19 counts of theft.

The court heard the convictions related to his previous employers, including a shoe shop and a bar, which he claimed to have disclosed to the CoE before he was employed – an assertion the church has neither confirmed nor denied…

Further references to these earlier events are included in this article: Life and Learning – Addiction and Recovery.

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James
James
1 year ago

Amazing – 19 counts of theft and a sentence of 21 months and then appointed to a position of high responsibility for millions of pounds. Did nobody do any background checks on him? Not even a search on the internet?

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  James
1 year ago

The latest of the previous convictions in 1995 would be ‘spent’ under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 by 1999/2000. I’m not sure what searches would have revealed them and it does, indeed, appear that disclosure would have to have been by Martin Sargeant himself. According to Google there are 63 people of that name in the UK, so internet searches might not have readily revealed anything, especially 10 years later.

James
James
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
1 year ago

OK – but nobody evidently took up references. A quick enquiry with previous employers would have revealed the many thefts.
Richard Chartres clearly thought Sargeant was a wonderful “fixer”, according to Private Eye, November 2022.

Interested Observer
Interested Observer
Reply to  James
1 year ago

A quick enquiry with previous employers would have revealed the many thefts. Both parties would need to be brave to the point of foolishness. Most employers decline to give references other than confirmation of employment dates. To give a reference making explicit, written mention of a spent conviction under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 would be extremely risky. Whether ROA S.4(2) means that an employer _cannot_ mention spent convictions is for lawyers to debate, but it certainly means that an employer is completely free from liability if they don’t and there is a more than arguable defamation case if… Read more »

James
James
Reply to  Interested Observer
1 year ago

Nineteen convictions for acts of theft of money from your employer seems pretty relevant to me in seeking a job handling millions of pounds. I don’t see any discrimination there.
The Diocese didn’t do due diligence in failing to diacover that Sargeant had been in prison, while Sargeant evidently concealed the truth from the Diocese.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  James
1 year ago

See my reply to David Lamming and, in particular, the emphasised words “whether the conviction is his own”. Those are the words of the Statute. We can’t substitute our own preferences!

David Lamming
David Lamming
Reply to  Interested Observer
1 year ago

There needs to be an independent inquiry (with a short timetable for reporting – I suggest 3 months) focusing, in particular on (i) the process by which, and by whom, Sargeant was employed, and (ii) the role of the auditors of the trust for which Sargeant was responsible during the years he was employed by the church. This might well lead to CDM proceedings against any cleric found, prima facie, to be guilty of conduct unbecoming, and/or an action for damages against the auditors for professional negligence. I note that the Chair of the LDF’s Audit and Risk Committee has… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  David Lamming
1 year ago

Much sense here, David, but aren’t you also overlooking section 4 subsections (2) and (3) of the 1974 Act? In particular subsection (3) – my emphasis added: “ (a) any obligation imposed on any person by any rule of law or by the provisions of any agreement or arrangement to disclose any matters to any other person shall not extend to requiring him to disclose a spent conviction or any circumstances ancillary to a spent conviction (whether the conviction is his own or another’s); and “ (b) a conviction which has become spent or any circumstances ancillary thereto, or any… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Interested Observer
1 year ago

Apart from the issue of discrimination, the 1974 Act deals expressly with the employment point in section 4 (3) (b) as already quoted, (my emphasis added):

4 (3) (b) “a conviction which has become spent or any circumstances ancillary thereto, or any failure to disclose a spent conviction or any such circumstances, shall not be a proper ground for dismissing or excluding a person from any office, profession, occupation or employment, or for prejudicing him in any way in any occupation or employment.”

I have checked that Mr Sargeant’s conviction is not one excluded by the Act

Anthony Archer
Anthony Archer
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
1 year ago

There would have been a gap in his CV. This is a gross failure of due diligence. I am no expert on the RoO Act, but he was being recruited to a position of trust. London is not the only diocese to have come unstuck by not checking references etc. Lincoln had a similar experience with an appointment where the successful candidate’s CV contained untruths and omissions, and this was known in the recruitment industry at the time. Fundamental lessons to be learned.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Anthony Archer
1 year ago

I was not commenting on the actions or inactions of the C of E, or to suggest any means by which they could circumvent the relevant provisions from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. These are clear, as quoted verbatim in my reply to David Lamming, and they aren’t optional. Interested Observer has carefully explained above the practical effect of the legal constraints on people replying to requests for references. Did you not read his post? Some of the actions which people have suggested on this thread would be illegal! You will see that in a reply to Peter Gross… Read more »

Anthony Archer
Anthony Archer
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
1 year ago

With great respect to my learned friends on TA, explanations of this Act are irrelevant for this purpose. This was a senior appointment. The employer (we don’t seem to know who that was) should have taken careful references (orally), having asked the candidate’s permission to speak to past employers and others whom they (the employee) nominated. Had certain relevant employers not been offered as referees, they should have pressed as to why not, although in the 1990s headhunters were still performing their own background checks on behalf of clients. In the highly unlikely event that MS had gone to a… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Anthony Archer
1 year ago

It’s pretty startling to read something so wide of the mark and which left unchallenged has the potential to mislead other TA readers. Mr Sargeant’s conviction was spent by 2000 or 2001 at the latest. I have checked the relevant statutory instrument that his conviction was not one excluded from the provisions of the 1974 Act. It is frankly absurd to suggest, as you seem to, that a Statute of the UK Parliament can be so airily swept aside. I’m wondering whether you have even read the relevant extracts quoted above. I began with an off the cuff answer to… Read more »

PatrickT
PatrickT
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
1 year ago

What about the Evening Standard report though? “The court heard the convictions related to his previous employers… which he claimed to have disclosed to the CoE before he was employed – an assertion the church has neither confirmed nor denied…”
I get a bit tired of the vagueness from the CofE. Look, if they appointed him in spite of convictions, that’s one thing. But it’s the same old same old same old story that the CofE just will not be frank about things. Were they advised of the convictions or not? It’s pretty straightforward.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  PatrickT
1 year ago

Simon Sarmiento has kindly answered your question, but if you had read further before posting this comment you would have seen that he had already done so yesterday!

PatrickT
PatrickT
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
1 year ago

I am grateful to Simon; please accept my apologies if I have not been clear in what I’m saying, but what I see is a difference between ‘telling the CofE’ and anyone telling the diocese of London or the diocese knowing, given that Mr Sargeant was not an employee of the diocese (and they say he was not). So here are the questions: which body or person within the CofE hired Mr Sargeant, and was that body or person told of his previous convictions?

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  PatrickT
1 year ago

I don’t know! But I’m satisfied that I have provided correct information about Mr Sargeant’s conviction being spent by 2001 at the latest, based on the known details of his 1995 conviction.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  James
1 year ago

James, Your first question kicked off a ‘discussion’ of spent convictions – and some pretty extraordinary comments followed from people who clearly had no knowledge of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. I have had to amend my original answer to you in the light of further research. Mr Sargeant’s 1995 conviction would have been spent in 2005. For the general effect of the 1974 Act, it’s only necessary to quote its short preamble “An Act to rehabilitate offenders who have not been reconvicted of any serious offence for periods of years, to penalise the unauthorised disclosure of their previous… Read more »

James
James
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
1 year ago

Rowland, I bow to your knowledge of the 1974 Act. I don’t imagine it’s something most people know about unless they are employers themselves (or convicts). Some convictions, e.g. in sex abuse, disqualify a person for life in working with vilnerable people, and criminal convictions would preclude employment as a lawyer or police officer. It is a little strange that the same thing doesn’t pertain for financial crime. It is still the case that those who appointed Sargeant failed to do due diligence in ascertaining that he was in prison as he must have spent a couple of years in… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  James
1 year ago

James, I have carefully, and may I add I hope patiently and courteously, set out the position numerous times on this thread, and am frankly baffled that people seem to be unable or unwilling to accept that (1) Mr Sargeant was not obliged to give details of his spent conviction, and (2) that any prospective employer was not entitled to ask him about a spent conviction. The Act is unequivocally clear in stating this in relation to a spent conviction. I have no special knowledge of the 1974 Act; I remember when it was passed. Now I have to rely… Read more »

Last edited 1 year ago by Rowland Wateridge
James
James
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
1 year ago

Rowland, you did explain it well and I understood what you were saying. My point was that Sargeant must have had an unexplained gap in his employment record (his time in prison) which no one seems to have detected when he was employed by the diocese. A computer search would have at least raised some questions.

Stanley Monkhouse
1 year ago

I was very moved by Mr Sargeant’s piece on his website.  We are all addicted to something – every one of us. What does it take you to get through the day? Nicotine? the sense of calming can be blissful. Alcohol? At a funeral of a wealthy 40-something year old who died of alcoholic liver disease, I said from the pulpit that anyone who ever encouraged him to “just have one more” was complicit in his death. Exercise? The endorphins released are addictive. Sex? Likewise. Golf? I’m not old enough to play golf. Other drugs? Cannabis is less dangerous than… Read more »

Geoff M.
Geoff M.
Reply to  Stanley Monkhouse
1 year ago

He certainly has my sympathy like every wounded soul, but given that Mr Sargeant had several rental properties on the go and amassed a designer wardrobe in addition to a string of luxury vacations, it’s clear this isn’t a case of simply needing to cover gambling debts.

Harry
Harry
Reply to  Geoff M.
1 year ago

I agree. I have every sympathy with addiction, and indeed food is my own particular poison and I could do with losing a stone. But it seems not that relevant here. The judge in the case accepted that Mr Sargeant is a gambling addict but said that the fraud had little to do with that. He owns several large properties, wore designer clothes and travelled all over the world. The money wasn’t going into slot machines – that’s where it was spent. I thought his blog was horribly self-pitying and showed a sociopathic lack of awareness of the harm he’s… Read more »

James
James
Reply to  Stanley Monkhouse
1 year ago

You seem to have missed a glaring point. Sargeant is not an alcoholic or drug addict wasting his own honest earnings on intoxicants. He is a liar and thief who stole over £5m in the hope of becoming even richer. That isn’t an “addiction”, it is moral turpitude.
The link to “Private Eye” below reveals he was also the source of the infamous “brain dump” to Luke Miller which led to the suicide of Alan Griffiths.
How did he get away with such blatant conduct for 10 years? Because people like Richard Chartres were mesmerised by him.

Michael H
Michael H
Reply to  James
1 year ago

I agree James. It’s also crass to tell mourners at a funeral that they killed the deceased. My sister was an alcoholic. I gave her plenty of support, even visiting her in prison, but it wasn’t enough. The mourners at the funeral of an alcoholic don’t want to be told that they caused the death.
Martin Sergeant ruined many lives. He built up a dossier of salacious gossip over many years, gossip which seems to have been believed. No, I have no sympathy for him.

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  Michael H
1 year ago

My wrist is slapped, Michael H. Your opinion on my comments at the funeral are just that – your opinion. His mother approved, even encouraged them. In general, I wish people would comment on what is written rather than on how they interpret what is written.

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
Reply to  Stanley Monkhouse
1 year ago

A lot of people deal with addiction — often addiction deals with them — without defrauding people or institutions of £5,200,000.00.As people of faith or out of simple humaneness, we can sympathize with Mr. Sargeant’s condition while being content that he will be a guest for a time of His Majesty’s wardens and guards. Decades ago, on American television, there was police detective show called Baretta. It had a catchy theme song, one line of which was “Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time”. Christian? Perhaps not. But truth, nonetheless. Last I checked, in both Judaism and… Read more »

Last edited 1 year ago by peterpi - Peter Gross
Robert Ellis
Robert Ellis
Reply to  Stanley Monkhouse
1 year ago

Thank you Stanley…..that is a very helpful piece….another angle on things.

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Stanley Monkhouse
1 year ago

A sensitive and pastoral comment on this man’s crime. It raises the question to what extent we can exercise free-will. A wise priest told me many years ago that none of our major decisions are chosen freely. – whether it be marriage, vocation or sexuality ( or crime). I’ve always been suspicious of clergy who think they’ve been called by God. Often it’s just a realisation of who and what they are.

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  FrDavid H
1 year ago

Quite so, Fr. When I consider how the microorganisms that live in us and on us (each of us is a colony) can affect our biology and psychopharmacology, I question the notion of free will. Nevertheless we must take the consequences of our actions. MS is in clink. One might think he should be joined there by Chartres and others. Funny how, as with safeguarding, lay people and coalface clergy are made to bear the brunt of episcopal dissembling and neglect. Whether MS is an addict (he says he is but then he would say that wouldn’t he?) or a… Read more »

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Stanley Monkhouse
1 year ago

Some people are addicted to criminal behaviour in the way others are addicted to power. Sergeant stole £5 million and prison is the consequence. Liz Truss managed to lose £30 billion of our money and remains an MP. I’m not sure who is the worst criminal.

James
James
Reply to  Stanley Monkhouse
1 year ago

All our law, our public morality and the Christian faith are posited on the claim that we do have a choice over our actions; otherwise, praise, blame and punishment make no sense. If Christian faith is true, that means that a purely physicalist, deterministic understanding of human beings is reductionist and false. So I do not question the notion of free will but note that some people are weaker and more hampered than others. “Addiction” is a particularly slippery notion: alcoholism, for example, is not the same as cancer since every act of drinking alcohol is a decision, and whether… Read more »

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  James
1 year ago

You say “every act of drinking alcohol is a decision”. That completely misunderstands the nature of addiction in which free-will no longer exists preventing a decision being made. Alcoholics are like the rest of us writ large. Society can only function on the basis of free will being a human construct. In fact, it may not really exist. The choices we make are often an illusory option produced by circumstances, genes, intelligence etc. When someone makes unwise “choices”, leading to unfortunate consequences, it’s often a case of “There but for the grace of God…..”

James
James
Reply to  FrDavid H
1 year ago

Well, David, I hadn’t put you down as a hyper-Calvinist, but I guess you had no say in the matter.

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  James
1 year ago

I don’t believe you were pre-destined to write that. Calvinism is not my style.

Charles Read
Reply to  FrDavid H
1 year ago

At university, in conversation in the CU with a Calvinist (I’d not really met Calvinists before) I told him he was a Calvinist because he had chosen to be so whereas I was predestined to be an Arminian. He looked confused.

Kate
Kate
Reply to  FrDavid H
1 year ago

There’s a lot of great commentary on this thread. Fr David’s contribution is one of those great comments.

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  Stanley Monkhouse
1 year ago

I agree. It is so easy to focus on Martin Sargeant, whereas the scandal is surely within the governance processes of the Diocese of London that allowed such things to go on for so long, without any apparent checks or audit process to detect and prevent fraud. I would have thought that Richard Chartres should be in the frame for this, and the diocesan culture that he inspired. But I think it likely that he will get away scot free with his reputation unsullied, whereas Bishop Sarah is getting it in the neck despite it being it her thankless to… Read more »

Fr Dexter Bracey
Fr Dexter Bracey
Reply to  Simon Dawson
1 year ago

I recall it being reported that Sargeant left his post because Bishop Sarah began asking questions about his lack of accountability. If that is so, then she deserves credit for asking those questions, and challenging someone clearly entrenched in his role. However, both she and the Archdeacon of London clearly have questions to answer about the ‘braindump’ fiasco, and their failure to ensure that due process was being followed. I fear that the lessons learned review will ensure that neither do so.

Last edited 1 year ago by Fr Dexter Bracey
David Lamming
David Lamming
Reply to  Simon Dawson
1 year ago

In the present context, this letter from Lord Chartres, published in the Church Times on 15 July 2022 relating to the death of Alan Griffin, is relevant: “There are many lessons to learn from the report into the tragic circumstances of the death of the Revd Alan Griffin. There is an inaccuracy, however, in the suggestion that the Head of Operations in the archdeaconry of London, Martin Sargeant, was appointed “by the Bishop of London in his capacity as Corporation Sole” (News, 8 July). The report, which is helpful in many other ways, goes on to state that “such arrangements… Read more »

Fr Dexter Bracey
Fr Dexter Bracey
Reply to  David Lamming
1 year ago

Lord Chartres is such a tease. He’ll tell us who didn’t pay Sargeant’s salary, but is surprisingly coy about who did. Thank goodness I’m not cynical – if I were, I might think someone had something to hide…

Anthony Archer
Anthony Archer
Reply to  Fr Dexter Bracey
1 year ago

I enjoyed the few encounters I had with Lord Chartres, although he probably found my lack of deference irritating. His ministry was significant. I was asked in the late-1990s to find the next Principal of the then North Thames Ministerial Training Course. It was a relatively complex set-up.  Oak Hill College (which I knew well) provided the premises and kit.  The Diocese of Chelmsford was the other partner to London. I knew Bishop Perry quite well, but I had never met Chartres, although I had been on the Synod for a while.  I decided I needed to see him and went for what… Read more »

Fr Dexter Bracey
Fr Dexter Bracey
Reply to  Anthony Archer
1 year ago

“We seemed to be talking about everything but the job in hand.” I have no idea whether or not that was typical of the way in which Bishop Chartres conducted business, but if it is that could explain quite a few things.

James
James
Reply to  David Lamming
1 year ago

That looks like an admission that pretends to be a denial be focusing on a different question, who precisely paid Sargeant. It appears from this that Chartres did appoint Sargeant – and apparently did not do due diligence in finding out that the gap in Sargeant’s CV was because he was in prison.

David Lamming
David Lamming
Reply to  James
1 year ago

The other person who may have questions to answer about Martin Sargeant’s appointment is the Venerable Peter Delaney, who was Archdeacon of London 1999-2009 and now, in retirement, aged 83, is an Associate Priest at Great St Bartholomew’s Church, Smithfield: see https://www.greatstbarts.com/clergy/the-venerable-peter-delaney-mbe/

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Stanley Monkhouse
1 year ago

Thank you Stanley.

Colette Griffin
Colette Griffin
Reply to  Stanley Monkhouse
1 year ago

I’ve been trying to find, without success, Martin Sargeant’s website in order to read his piece referred to above. Can you please add a link to it.

Alastair living in Scotland
Alastair living in Scotland
1 year ago

It beggars belief there was no independent audit of London Diocesan Funds’ applications and allied correspondence. Moreover that over many years no one chose to think and then ask how the official was able to afford such trips. Well done to the one person who asked questions.

Dave
Dave
1 year ago

‘which he claimed to have disclosed to the CoE before he was employed – an assertion the church has neither confirmed nor denied…’ Hmm. Can the Church of England make a clear statement about this now? Why should they ‘neither confirm nor deny’? Clearly Mr Sargeant had his friends in high places – who were they? have they been named and asked questions? We understand he made many allegations against clergy which were off the cuff but taken seriously by an Archdeacon who failed in the due process of safeguarding? Is this troublesome Archdeacon still in post? If so why… Read more »

NJW
NJW
Reply to  Dave
1 year ago

As to the diocese not confirming or denying, it is entirely possible that they may not be in a position to do so. If I were asked to make a statement such as this, in such a high profile case I would want to make sure that any statement was fully accurate – to contradict the assertion that there was a disclosure would need a thorough search of all records. At this length of time the reality is that they may or may not exist in a comprehensive state – and may well have been handed over to the police… Read more »

NJW
NJW
Reply to  Simon Sarmiento
1 year ago

Sorry I had missed that. Even less reason that the diocese would be in a position to make any informed comment if they were not in fact his employer.

PatrickT
PatrickT
Reply to  NJW
1 year ago

I am worried by the lack of accountability on display here. This person was responsible for church funds. The diocese may not have been his employer but someone hired him. Who recruited him, and on what terms? These questions can be answered. And they should be. It may not be the diocese who answers them, although they might be able to help? This is nothing to do with previous convictions, just governance.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Dave
1 year ago

We must totally segregate the fraud and safeguarding issues. They are subject to different legal considerations. I explained in my reply to ‘James’ above that the 1995 conviction was spent under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 long before Mr Sargeant applied for the C of E job. It is an offence under the 1974 Act to disclose details of a spent conviction – or for prospective employers to seek details of a spent conviction – thereby defeating the whole purpose of the Act. Let’s be clear, these are matters of law, not one’s personal views. There are necessary and separate… Read more »

Jonathan Jamal
Jonathan Jamal
1 year ago

This reminds me of a Case the Church of Scotland, the Presbyterian Church, in which an Accountant working at their National HQ 121 George Street in Edinburgh, was embezzling Cheques through a Church Book Shop to pay off his Gambling Debts and pay for his Wife’s Beauty Treatment, this was back in 1994 and it led to a very serious Financial crisis in the Church of Scotland, which led to the Church of Scotland, having to withdraw Ministers from Parishes, Missionaries from Overseas, having to link Parishes, to close their Diaconate Training College St Colms in Edinburgh and close a… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Jonathan Jamal
1 year ago

Jonathan, the CPS statement includes the following: ““We will commence proceedings for confiscation orders against any available money and assets from this crime.”

I recall on an earlier thread that there was discussion of there being possibly substantial assets, as it happens, in Scotland. That, if it is pursued, is likely to involve legal proceedings in Scotland.

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
Reply to  Jonathan Jamal
1 year ago

Thank you, sir, for talking about consequences of this type of crime.
As can be seen in a different reply, I wonder the same thing.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  peterpi - Peter Gross
1 year ago

Most employers (or at any rate they used to when I started work in 1958!) take out fidelity guarantee insurance in respect of employees entrusted with handling large sums of money. I’m sure there is a US equivalent form of cover. Whether or not the C of E goes down this route I have no idea, and there might well be limits of indemnity which would be cut into by multiple acts of embezzlement. I don’t know whether Sargeant’s extensive properties in Scotland are eligible for the CPS action I mentioned to Jonathan, but the C of E itself is… Read more »

Anthony Archer
Anthony Archer
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
1 year ago

Naive to imagine that fidelity guarantee insurance can be obtained to provide cover for an employee with a criminal record. It is a special condition precedent to liability that minimum standards of control are in place, including the obtaining of satisfactory references. It cannot be regarded as a substitute for organisations not following governance best practice. We don’t have all the facts (usual on TA!), but it would be unthinkable for Ecclesiastical to have to pay out, were any such cover in place.

Last edited 1 year ago by Anthony Archer
Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Anthony Archer
1 year ago

Naive, possibly, to expect to effect fidelity guarantee insurance on someone with a criminal record, but that was not my point. It would be a prudent step for the C of E to take in relation to a new employee with a totally unblemished record handling large sums of money. It protects against the first offence and any major temptation. (In saying this, it is more than 60 years since I had practical experience of fidelity guarantee.) I hope that none of my contributions here is naive. In the case of Mr Sargeant, his previous conviction was for theft (not… Read more »

Alastair living in Scotland
Alastair living in Scotland
Reply to  Jonathan Jamal
1 year ago

I was intrigued to read Jonathan’s interpretation of 1994 events in Scotland. I can trace no evidence for the statements about withdrawing ministers from parishes, closing care homes etc. The closure of St Colm’s was I understand a strategic decision about how training should be delivered.

Jonathan Jamal
Jonathan Jamal
Reply to  Alastair living in Scotland
1 year ago

At the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland I observed in 1994, many commissioners reported from the floor of the Assembly about the impact the Financial crisis was having and they reported that that in some places Ministers were having to withdrawn from parishes, some parishes linked as a Single linked charge and within a few months I found myself working in one of these Care Homes at Mayburn House at Loanhead, and we received warning from the Board of Social Responsibility (Now Cross Reach) that our employment could be in Jeopardy and a lot of us could face… Read more »

Simon Bravery
Simon Bravery
1 year ago

In a lecture in 2015, Chartres described Sargeant as a remarkable layman whose “negotiating skills and attention to detail were crucial in turning ideas into profitable ventures”.

Rather a large blot on Lord Chartres’ long stewardship of the diocese.

Realist
Realist
Reply to  Simon Bravery
1 year ago

For Mr Sargeant to have operated for so long, seemingly ‘slipping through the cracks’ of the line management structures of the Diocese and its Areas (to put it kindly), but apparently with a mandate mostly established by authority based on connection and influence and commit fraud to such an extent raises questions about effectiveness of oversight that I hope (but don’t expect) will be addressed. If such a thing happened in a parish, I would expect the acronym CDM to be very prominent in conversations with the Incumbent in post at the time, especially if there were questions raised about… Read more »

Fr Dexter Bracey
Fr Dexter Bracey
Reply to  Simon Bravery
1 year ago

I suspect that that lecture given by Lord Chartres may not age well at all. In addition to his description of Sargeant, he also speaks of the developing communications strategy of the diocese:”By employing an external partnership – Luther Pendragon – we gained access to a wider range of skills at less cost. At the same time we acquired a critical friend who could help us to see ourselves as others see us…” Readers may judge for themselves how well they think the deployment of LP has helped the C of E. Lord Chartres also devotes a large part of… Read more »

David Runcorn
David Runcorn
Reply to  Simon Bravery
1 year ago

That is an accurate statement of fact surely? That he used these abilities in undetected criminal activity is another matter.

Simon Bravery
Simon Bravery
Reply to  David Runcorn
1 year ago

Indeed. The person profiting from the ventures was Mr Sargeant. However, it must be, to put it at its lowest, a little embarrassing for someone you have praised publicly to be convicted of fraud. The deeper questions will hopefully be answered by the investigation that is underway. The impression I have formed is that Mr Sargeant had a certain sort of charm and had some notable successes which endeared him to Bishop Chartres and others in the senior ranks of the diocese. The usual structures of accountability and even of basic auditing practices were either not in place at all… Read more »

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  Simon Bravery
1 year ago

This sad saga illustrates what Colin Hannaford, a philosopher, educator, and friend, called Culturally Induced Autism. It’s a bit like Groupthink but much more pervasive, being the consequence of a club mentality that values only its own history and members and dismisses all other groups and people as insignificant, or worse as a nuisance, or worst of all as sub-human. Not only in the Diocese of London, it seems, but throughout the CofE. Froghole has alluded to it: people in the pews know the system is bust, the hierarchs, I suspect, know the system is bust, but nobody knows what… Read more »

Margery Roberts
Margery Roberts
Reply to  Simon Bravery
1 year ago

You are probably right, Simon. As a then churchwarden of St Mary le Strand, I did try to oppose Mr Sargeant when he attempted to turn my church into the Museum of the Bible, which had a dubious reputation then and worse since. But where did it get me? The clerical hierarchy employed methods including bribery and intimidation to get me to change my mind. And then, when I refused, they gerrymandered the parish and I felt obliged to resign all my diocesan and parochial offices. There are many aspects to the Sargeant case, including conflicts of interest and other… Read more »

Simon Bravery
Simon Bravery
Reply to  Margery Roberts
1 year ago

You have my sympathy Margery. I played a minor role in the (hopeless) battle to keep St. Ethelburga’s Bishopsgate open. The Archdeacon was appointed Guild Vicar and the congregation only told after it had happened. The registrar compiled a report for the Bishop which no one in the congregation ever saw. Things do not seemed to have improved in the Diocese since then.

Froghole
Froghole
1 year ago

Is the problem not also one of accountability? The Church Commissioners treat Parliament and General Synod as stakeholders, and to some extent are accountable to them. DBFs (which I treat as shorthand for diocesan bureaucracies) are ‘accountable’ only to diocesan synods which, with extraordinary exceptions (such as Winchester), are much more easy to ‘manage’, as they are perhaps even more ‘stacked’ than General Synod. The co-ordination of these bureaucracies falls upon the bishop as de facto CEO, and because most clergy have not (and ought not to have) taken holy orders on order to become managers, they will often perforce… Read more »

Fr Dean
Fr Dean
Reply to  Froghole
1 year ago

I could never be a management guru, my gifts are pastoral and liturgical, but there seems to me to be good sense in what you say Froghole. Much of the diocesan hierarchy seems unnecessary and more about giving psychological strokes to those in charge (mostly men in my experience). I’m also intrigued by your use of the word ‘virility’, as I often mused in interminable diocesan meetings that the actual motivating factor was about establishing the potency of those taking part. Given that dynamic there was little wonder that women were reluctant to join these committees. It is not to… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
1 year ago

The formula for a conviction becoming spent is to add the term of imprisonment (or so much of it as the trial judge orders to be served in prison) and the corresponding rehabilitation period. The sentence was 21 months – further details are not known – and taking that figure, the rehabilitation period is four years. Accordingly the conviction was spent (at the latest) five years and nine months from the date of sentence in 1995.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
1 year ago

It has been drawn to my attention that the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 was amended in 2012 to provide the present formula for calculating a spent conviction – resulting in the figure of five years and nine months as above. However, the formula prior to 2012 was different. The Act prescribed a period of ten years for the conviction to be spent, that period including the period of the sentence from the date when it was passed. Accordingly Mr Sargeant’s conviction was spent in 2005. The CPS statement indicates that he was employed by the Church of England (in… Read more »

Andrew Graystone
Andrew Graystone
1 year ago

Mr Sargeant’s employment status is a bit of a mystery. The Diocese says it didn’t employ him – though at least once in my own experience the Bishop of London referred me to him for a financial decision. He says that he was initially employed as a contractor by the Archdeaconry. It’s hard to see what that could mean, except possibly a very informal arrangement. Does the Archdeaconry have status as an employer? Wouldn’t it be fair to assume that someone employed by the Archdeaconry was in fact employed by the diocese? Perhaps, after a few years, and given his… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Andrew Graystone
1 year ago

The ‘disguised employment’ status may raise IR35 questions, which could be of interest to HMRC.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Froghole
1 year ago

This may be of interest, but I’m not commenting further! There’s scope for further delving, including the other directorships. I have neither the time nor the expertise, but this is clearly ‘our man’.

https://www.companydirectorcheck.com/martin-sargeant-10

PatrickT
PatrickT
Reply to  Andrew Graystone
1 year ago

I agree. There is a recurrent tendency towards obscurantism on the part of church authorities whenever sensitive areas are approached. The main focus seems to be on clouding the issues, with careful, narrow denials presented apparently in an attempt to head off further investigations. Mr Sargeant may not have been an employee of the diocese of London, though he described himself publicly as their Finance and Property officer – so perhaps he was a self-employed contractor? Or an office holder but not an employee? Or a worker but not an employee? Or a director but not an employee? Or an… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  PatrickT
1 year ago

My reply to Froghole above was a very strong clue. It seems that no other TA reader has picked up (or at any rate none has yet acknowledged) its significance. In one of the links Martin Sargeant is referred to as a Clerk in Holy Orders.

Even better, this link to Companies House, but you have to continue the searches within each company linked for details of directorships. Read the entries also for Martin James Sargeant showing date of birth October 1969.

https://find-and-update.company-information.service.gov.uk/search?q=Martin+Sargeant+

Last edited 1 year ago by Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  PatrickT
1 year ago

On reviewing the Companies House core material, I have found several separate directorship entries referring to Sargeant as a Clerk in Holy Orders. The circumstances of his appointments to the church-related companies are not apparent (for some information about companies and directorships you need to have an account with Companies House which I do not). I suspect it might be a day’s work to identify all of the directorship connections and probably a job for a forensic accountant. Furthermore, Sargeant was appointed to some directorships before his conviction was spent in 2005. That is not, in itself, illegal but indicates that… Read more »

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