Thinking Anglicans

Safeguarding process finally concluded for Lincoln Canon

Updated Friday

789 days after he was first asked to “step aside” from his role as Canon Chancellor, Church of England processes have cleared him completely. He had been acquitted of any criminal charge by a Cardiff jury in December 2020.

The Church Times reports Safeguarding process drove us close to suicide, says Lincoln canon

THE Canon Chancellor of Lincoln Cathedral, the Revd Dr Paul Overend, and his wife, Sue, contemplated suicide because of the safeguarding investigation that he faced, he said on Sunday.

On Saturday, it was announced that a church investigation had concluded that there was “no case to answer” after a protracted investigation by the police and the church authorities.

In a personal statement that was read out on Sunday, Canon Overend writes: “The diocese and the Church of England will now need to take stock of their safeguarding and CDM processes, which have harmed a great number of people and brought my wife and me close to suicide.”

He said on Monday that, at one point, his wife had been admitted to the Maytree Respite Centre in London for residential suicide-prevention care…

Statement from the Diocese of Lincoln

Statement from Lincoln Cathedral

Update

The Church Times carries a further detailed news report, Five-minute meeting that led to a traumatic two-year ordeal and there is a reference to this matter in Leader comment: Is this institutional corruption?

The cover picture on this issue of the Church Times is a painting created by Sue Overend, more details here (scroll down).

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John Wallace
John Wallace
4 months ago

How I feel for Canon Paul and his wife. The process needs to be tightened up so that it is concluded with a very short timeframe. The way in which these disciplinary matters both in church and in secular society are allowed to drag on, is a breach of Human Rights and for the church to collude with this is disgraceful. There must be a diiferent way. Prayers for Fr Paul and shame on the process.

Martin Hislop
Martin Hislop
4 months ago

Further evidence of need for independent Ecclesiastical Ombudsman.

Charles Read
4 months ago

Paul was my colleague here in Norwich for a few years. He is a man of great integrity and has a deep concern for justice. We must urgently revise our procedures – why the long delay after the court case found him not guilty? We were there with Michael Perham (and some of us wrote to the archbishops to complain that justice delayed is justice denied) and we are there still with Martin Percy.

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
Reply to  Charles Read
4 months ago

“(…some of us wrote to the archbishops to complain that justice delayed is justice denied) and we are there still with Martyn Percy”

And Bishop George Bell of Chichester, and….and….and….and….and…………

Last edited 4 months ago by Richard W. Symonds
Nathan Dorpe
Nathan Dorpe
Reply to  Charles Read
4 months ago

Even if the allegations were true, they hardly seem serious enough to justify a criminal charge 20 years after the event. Not for the first time the CPS seems unfit for purpose

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Nathan Dorpe
4 months ago

The seriousness of the alleged incident depends on the context. It hasn’t occurred to me to make a police complaint against every guy that grabbed and kissed me. Life is too short, and I shrugged them off (though there are two such I still remember vividly, and with a shudder). But in the context of other sexualised behaviour, of bullying, or other abuses of power, such behaviour can be very damaging and worthy of police attention. This is not to impugn Canon Overend in any way, and I sympathise with him in his ordeal. It must have felt especially cruel… Read more »

Martin Sewell
Martin Sewell
Reply to  Janet Fife
4 months ago

Can we please make Janet Fife “ Proportionality Tsarina “ for the CofE?

Christopher Shell
Christopher Shell
Reply to  Janet Fife
3 months ago

Don’t you think that 789 days is too long (and if so, by how much?) for an allegation that may or may not be true of something of the present degree of magnitude?

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
4 months ago

Two years and two months seems an awfully long time to clear someone. The CofE is under no obligation to follow the criminal court proceedings, but nonetheless, the civil authorities seem to have disposed of the matter more quickly. People who are guilty of abusive behavior need to be found and disciplined, but there is a clear need to streamline the process so that people who have been wrongfully accused don’t have this sword of Damocles hanging over their head. Like Mr. Wallace, I feel for Canon Overend. I suppose it’s too much to ask whether the CofE has any… Read more »

Last edited 4 months ago by peterpi - Peter Gross
Tony Bellows - F83B631C
Tony Bellows - F83B631C
Reply to  peterpi - Peter Gross
4 months ago

It’s almost like the Middle Ages with a secular justice process and what seems to be a clergy one that is completely detached from the secular one.

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
Reply to  Tony Bellows - F83B631C
4 months ago

There are similarities, God only knows the number of British monarchs and top administrative Church officials who battled, before and after the separation of the CofE from the Roman Catholic Church, over the desire of the State to have some control over Church officials, either in the criminal arena or to get their hands on Church wealth, But I see this as more along the lines of an organization, any organization, having the ability to discipline its own people. The civil authorities brought the matter to a jury, and the jury declined to convict. The CofE followed its own procedures.… Read more »

Last edited 4 months ago by peterpi - Peter Gross
Bill Broadhead
Bill Broadhead
4 months ago

I hope they are taking notice in Oxford. Though I guess everyone is burying their head in the sand and hoping this will go away quickly, especially now that they’ve blocked Canon Tilby on Twitter and anyone else who calls out their hypocrisy. Having said that, does it really – really? – take six months to conclude a CDM when someone has been found ‘not guilty’ in a criminal court? We know that the Beloved Leader and his acolytes were awaiting the outcome of Canon Overend’s trial before lifting the Bishop of Lincoln’s suspension (even though the police had concluded… Read more »

The Venerable John Hawley
The Venerable John Hawley
4 months ago

In retirement over the last six years I have supported several clergy who have either endured Safeguarding investigations and/or CDM. Thankfully Lambeth under Bishop TimThornton & Sheldon have reported on the inadequacies of the systems. It all seems to become legalistic & overlong in coming to decisions & often without good knowledge of the long term character of the priest, nor of any desire for repentance & forgiveness. As in this case the police come to a decision more quickly than the church system. Much stronger pastoral care & good legal advice needs to be more readily available for both… Read more »

Martin Sewell
Martin Sewell
Reply to  The Venerable John Hawley
4 months ago

Can I say that recent experience is that when we get a “ proper grown up “ into the room, these cases get dealt with. Contrary to your assertion, in the cases I have been watching it is only the arrival of a forensic lawyer onto the scene that brings the stupidity to a close. Safeguarding is primarily (not exclusively, but primarily) about the serious abuse of vulnerable people. The problem is “mission creep”. We need to resist this. If everyone is vulnerable, nobody is vulnerable. I am concluding that many of our areas of legitimate concern – Safeguarding, Racism,… Read more »

Charles K
Charles K
4 months ago

I know Canon Paul from a number of years ago. He is a good man. A thoroughly good man. This sort of witch-hunt is shocking, but what is more disgraceful is the 789 days of purgatory/hell that Paul and his wife have been through. Go elsewhere Paul – not because Lincoln isn’t good and lovely – but because you deserve better. There is more grace elsewhere and your theological and pastoral gifts will be appreciated more perhaps outside of the church. Safeguarding must protect the vulnerable – that is paramount, but when it pillories the innocent in this way… we… Read more »

The Venerable John Hawley
The Venerable John Hawley
4 months ago

Continuing briefly:
Why does the system simply allow for the CDM letter be sent by post? Unannounced & often a shock. Surely the Bishop themselves or a member of the Bishop’s staff should take such a letter. They should know what is in the letter & be allowed to give explanation, guidance & support there & then. That to me makes sense & speaks of a church & a Bishop who cares.

Canon Dr Michael Blyth
Canon Dr Michael Blyth
4 months ago

Too much is gruesome and unacceptable in the Church of England. Reform or die.

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