The Church Times reports: QC has doubts over Percy investigation.
Lord Carlile is quoted as follows:
Speaking on Monday, he said: “I do not believe that the Church has got to grips with the fundamental principles of adversary justice, one of which is that you must disclose the evidence that you have against someone, and give them an equal opportunity to be heard as those making the accusation.
“And you cannot give them an equal opportunity if there are conflicts of interest involved. Anyone with a conflict of interest must leave the deliberations and take no further part. This is what lawyers understand as the law of apparent bias. It’s not to say that such people are biased: that’s often misunderstood. It is the appearance of bias that matters.
“Having people on a core group with a conflict of interest is simply not sustainable and is, on the face of it, unlawful.
“And to fail to allow the person accused to represent themselves, or be represented, in the full knowledge of the accusation, is not sustainable, and is, on the face of it, unlawful.”
The report also includes this:
…In the mean time, senior figures at Christ Church are continuing, in the words of some observers, to “weaponise” the investigation. At a recent meeting, members of the Governing Body were reportedly told by senior figures in the dispute that, with “new students potentially arriving in the autumn, the Dean is a safeguarding risk”, and that they were “constantly monitoring the risks the Dean poses”.
As a consequence, the Dean asked the NST for an unequivocal statement that he was not a safeguarding risk. The NST has complied: a statement has been posted this week on the C of E website: “The safeguarding issues referred to the NST are being looked at by an independent investigator and we would like to stress there is no evidence at this time that the Dean presents a direct risk to any child or vulnerable adult. The referral is about whether safeguarding responsibilities were fulfilled.”
That statement can be found here:
Statement on Christ Church, Oxford
The lead bishop for safeguarding, Jonathan Gibbs, has previously written a letter stating that the National Safeguarding Team (NST) has no view about, and is not involved in, the wider issues relating to the College and the Dean at Christ Church, Oxford and this remains the case. The safeguarding issues referred to the NST are being looked at by an independent investigator and we would like to stress there is no evidence at this time that the Dean presents a direct risk to any child or vulnerable adult. The referral is about whether safeguarding responsibilities were fulfilled.
Along with this statement, the letter to the Church Times, was also published on the Church of England website – this is the only place where updates on the independent investigation will appear. There have been no other briefings.
As Bishop Jonathan said in his letter there is no agenda behind this and we would like to thank all parties for their cooperation and hope that this safeguarding matter can be concluded quickly.