Thinking Anglicans

Paul Overend: CofE never had CDM jurisdiction

Readers will recall the case of Canon Paul Overend, Chancellor of Lincoln Cathedral which we reported on 14 June, Safeguarding process finally concluded for Lincoln Canon. As we noted then, he had been acquitted of any criminal charge by a Cardiff jury in December last year. But it now transpires that there was no legal basis for any subsequent action under the Clergy Discipline Measure which took over five months to conclude.

The situation is fully explained in this CDM Overend Note from the Deputy President of Tribunals, dated 6 July.

Update

The Church Times has a full report here: Lincoln CDM was out of order, judge admits concluding as follows:

…Canon Overend was suspended for more than two years, and spoke in June about how he and his wife had contemplated suicide (News, 14 June). Bishop Lowson was suspended for 20 months, finally being allowed back to work in February after an apology (News, 1 February). Archbishop Welby said then: “We have both agreed that there are many lessons we and the Church need to learn from this very difficult season.” It is understood that a formal investigation of the whole Lincoln saga has been initiated.

Canon Overend said on Monday: “I am unable to comment at present, as an independent investigation has now begun into the handling of events at Lincoln, following the complaints submitted by my wife and others. This investigation is likely to take some months.”

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Michael CJ
Michael CJ
8 days ago

Para 8, which smacks of “nany casing”, should not have been stated because the matter was superseded by everything else. “Overfully” rather.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Michael CJ
8 days ago

The Church in Wales decision is reliant on the English one stated in para 8, so the Note is incomplete without it, even if you don’t care for the phraseology.

Michael CJ
Michael CJ
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
6 days ago

I see from your reply to James below that it was made to appear so. This now reminds me of the fairly similar trick I saw pulled against another adjudicator (in another context) once.

Clare Amos
Clare Amos
8 days ago

If I am correct (and I think I am) there is even a mistake in the note of 6 July from the Deputy President of Tribunals. The note refers to a letter of 4th July 2020 from Bishop June Osborne. I think the note should say 4th July 2021. If it wasn’t so sad – indeed potentially tragic – it would even be amusing. Get your act together C of E.

Fr. Dean
Fr. Dean
8 days ago

It’s alarming that it took so long to realise that there was no jurisdiction here. That so many lawyers didn’t spot that essential detail doesn’t inspire much confidence.

Dylan Williams
Dylan Williams
Reply to  Fr. Dean
7 days ago

Comes as no suprise to us in Wales. The Established English Church has always been imprisoned in its own self-referrential bubble, believing it is the norm for everywhere else on Planet Earth. That’s why so many Union Jacks are flown from C of E church towers, presumably? The Empire Strikes Back…

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Dylan Williams
7 days ago

The proper flag for C of E churches is the Cross of St George. The Union flag is retained for certain national occasions which, of course, fully embrace Wales, Scotland and N. Ireland. There doesn’t seem to be any justification for turning this particular debacle on the part of the C of E into an anti-England jeer. It’s to the credit of the Church in Wales that they identified the error, and now we wait to see how matters will be put right for Canon Overend – and, possibly, the Bishop of Lincoln if my hunch is correct that his… Read more »

Dylan Williams
Dylan Williams
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
7 days ago

Of course, Rowland. Let’s never imagine a national church and its legal functionaries ever, ever operate in an isolated, self-referrential and exceptional cultural bubble.

Altogether now…’Rule Britania, Britannia rules the waves…’

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Dylan Williams
6 days ago

Written by a Scotsman!

Allan Sheath
Allan Sheath
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
7 days ago

“The Union flag is retained for certain national occasions”. Why? As you rightly remind us, Mr Wateridge, it’s the Church of England not the Church of the UK.

Fr. Dean
Fr. Dean
Reply to  Dylan Williams
7 days ago

You certainly have every right to be miffed. It’s difficult to see that the CofE would have stepped on the Church of Ireland or the Episcopal Church of Scotland’s toes in this way. Presumably Canon Overend can complain to the Law Society about the slapdash and slipshod lawyers involved here.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Fr. Dean
7 days ago

Mistakes are made and miscarriages of justice can occur without necessarily being caused by ‘slapdash and slipshod’ lawyers. I think the introduction of nationalistic one-upmanship comments in a serious topic is regrettable and unnecessary. We are told that an official investigation is underway although no details by whom – presumably an internal church one? Pedantic point, but the Law Society has no jurisdiction over non-solicitor lawyers and judges.

Fr. Dean
Fr. Dean
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
7 days ago

I’m happy to stand by ‘slapdash and slipshod’ Rowland – not spotting that the CofE had no jurisdiction in Wales seems to be first year undergraduate stuff to me. This is a genuine enquiry, to whom are these other lawyers accountable? I suppose with judges the higher courts perhaps fulfil that function; but with other lawyers who ensures a certain professional standard?

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Fr. Dean
6 days ago

Both branches of the legal profession, solicitors and the Bar, are strictly regulated by their respective bodies. For the worst offences, solicitors are struck-off and barristers disbarred. I don’t recall a single case of a judge being removed, but unless things have changed, in the case of a high court judge this can can only happen by a vote of both houses of Parliament. Lesser judges are (or were) appointed and disciplined by the Lord Chancellor, but I don’t guarantee that I am totally up to date. A change of subject. ‘Life’ goes inexorably on. I have just learned that… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Fr. Dean
6 days ago

It’s not quite as simple as the C of E having no jurisdiction in Wales (in fact there are still some parishes in Wales which retain affiliation to the C of E) and I believe a C of E diocesan Bishop in any event retains disciplinary powers over misconduct occurring anywhere as long as the offender at the time holds preferment or resides in his diocese. No distinction to be drawn between a visit to Wales or a holiday on the Costa Brava. Where things went wrong in the present case, it seems, are that whilst Canon Overend was both… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
8 days ago

This surely impinges on the Bishop of Lincoln’s own CDM. In his statement linked above (News, 1 February) the bishop stated that the CDM related to “disclosure about a member of clergy in the Lincoln Diocese in early 2019”. Splitting hairs, possibly, but can that be taken to mean a member of the clergy now in the Lincoln diocese, but actually at the material time in a different province, i.e., the Church in Wales, and outside all C of E jurisdiction? I suppose so, but it clearly was not the understanding on which decisions were taken at the time. Given what we… Read more »

David Lamming
David Lamming
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
7 days ago

Rowland, the suspension of Bishop Christopher Lowson in May 2019 had nothing to do with the alleged offence by Canon Overend, in respect of which he was charged and acquitted by a jury at Newport Crown Court in December 2020. (The trial was originally fixed for a date in late June 2020, but was one of many postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.) Bishop Lowson’s suspension by Archbishop Justin (pursuant to section 37(1)(e) of the CDM 2003 as amended by the Safeguarding and Clergy Discipline Measure 2016) was based on a report by Lincolnshire police who were investigating two alleged… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  David Lamming
7 days ago

Thank you for the clarification. In a sense it simplifies matters.

David James
David James
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
5 days ago

In which case the comment by ++Canterbury that +Lincoln presented a ‘danger’ was probably prejudicial and possibly defamatory. Just a completely shameful episode.

James Allport
James Allport
7 days ago

As a former lawyer, this is really painful. There are few things more embarrassing than missing a jurisdiction point.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  James Allport
7 days ago

Some here seem to be anxious to pile on extra pain. TA counts quite a few lawyers among its regular contributors. Hands up how many thought the C of E got this wrong, but chose not to say so! At the time of the Bishop of Lincoln’s suspension there was substantive comment here, including by counsel, but at that time it was not known by anyone outside the Church that the facts involved alleged misconduct in Wales. And the Church’s stance at the time was strictly ‘no comment’. One of the most remarkable things about this matter is that the… Read more »

James Allport
James Allport
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
7 days ago

I’m emphatically not implying I’d have caught the point in their shoes.

Dr Michael Blyth
Dr Michael Blyth
7 days ago

The Church of England’s ‘Lessons Learned’ file must be really bulging out of its filing cabinet by now. The cases highlighted in just the last few days make the phrase sound ever more meaningless. Behind all these legal and academic disquisitions are littered the lives and ministries of those who believed they were being called to serve a Church which championed justice and offered appropriate pastoral care. The miracle seems to be that it still attracts ordinands. One just hopes they realise what they are getting into.

Dan Barnes-Davies
7 days ago

Welby’s Lambeth/Church House has so many “lessons to learn” (by his own and his bishops’ admission) at this point that he ought to be sent back to Eton.

Angusian
Angusian
Reply to  Dan Barnes-Davies
6 days ago

or possibly a school which has more relevance for embers of the C of E and ordinary punters!

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