Monthly Archives: July 2020

JULY 31 2020 – GEORGE BELL BISHOP OF CHICHESTER – PORTRAIT BY WILLIAM COLDSTREAM [1954] – PALLANT HOUSE GALLERY CHICHESTER [ON LOAN FROM THE TATE GALLERY LONDON]

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Bridgeman; (c) Pallant House Gallery; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

 

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JULY 28 2020 – “SIGNIFICANT CLOUDS” HANG OVER CHURCH OF ENGLAND

COMPLAINT MADE INTO HOW WELBY DEALT WITH A SAFEGUARDING COMPLAINT – ‘THINKING ANGLICANS’

“SIGNIFICANT CLOUDS” HANG OVER CHURCH OF ENGLAND

 

“THAT ‘SIGNIFICANT CLOUD’ HANGING OVER GEORGE BELL BISHOP OF CHICHESTER HAS FLOATED AWAY FROM HIM AND IS NOW HANGING OVER THE ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY AND BISHOP MARTIN WARNER” ~ RICHARD W. SYMONDS – THE BELL SOCIETY

 

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Chichester Cathedral – RWS Photography

 

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The Bell Tower – Chichester Cathedral

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Chichester Cathedral

 

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Bishop George Bell of Chichester

 

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Present Bishop of Chichester Martin Warner

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Archbishop Justin Welby

 

JULY 28 2020 – “THAT ‘SIGNIFICANT CLOUD’ HANGING OVER BISHOP GEORGE BELL HAS FLOATED AWAY FROM HIM AND IS NOW HANGING OVER ARCHBISHOP JUSTIN WELBY AND BISHOP MARTIN WARNER”

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Archbishop Justin Welby

“THAT ‘SIGNIFICANT CLOUD’ HANGING OVER BISHOP GEORGE BELL HAS FLOATED AWAY FROM HIM AND IS NOW HANGING OVER ARCHBISHOP JUSTIN WELBY AND BISHOP MARTIN WARNER” ~ RICHARD W. SYMONDS – THE BELL SOCIETY

 

NST CONSIDERS SAFEGUARDING COMPLAINT AGAINST WELBY – CHURCH TIMES – JULY 28 2020

 

“CHURCH LAUNCHES INVESTIGATION INTO HOW WELBY DEALT WITH COMPLAINTS ABOUT AN ALLEGED SERIAL ABUSER” – CHANNEL 4 NEWS – CATHY NEWMAN – JULY 27 2020

 

“JUSTIN WELBY – CHURCH OF ENGLAND INVESTIGATING COMPLAINT OVER HOW THE ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY DEALT WITH CHILD ABUSE CLAIMS” – i NEWS – JANE CLINTON

The man [‘Graham’], who made the complaint to the Church of England spoke to Channel 4 News anonymously calling into question why Archbishop Welby was still allowed to officiate and minister.

He said: “There should be procedures in place when disclosures of abuse are made to the Church of England. There are strict safeguarding procedures…I find it very difficult to understand why he still has permission to officiate and can still minister.”

He added: “I find it depressing and staggering that the Church of England can take so long to find out the truth about what actually happened.”

 

SIGNIFICANT CLOUDS HANG OVER CHURCH OF ENGLAND

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Chichester Cathedral – RWS Photography

 

“CHURCH OF ENGLAND INVESTIGATING COMPLAINT OVER HOW ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY DEALT WITH ABUSE CLAIMS” – DAILY TELEGRAPH

COMPLAINT MADE INTO HOW WELBY DEALT WITH A SAFEGUARDING COMPLAINT – ‘THINKING ANGLICANS’

Monday, 27 July 2020 at 11.24 pm by Simon Sarmiento

Channel 4 News reported on Monday evening: Church launches investigation into how Welby dealt with complaints about an alleged serial abuse

This programme can reveal that the Church of England has launched an investigation into how the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, dealt with complaints about a serial abuser of young men.

John Smyth was alleged to have beaten dozens of young men in the 1970s and 1980s.

One of those abused has now written to the Church of England, launching a formal complaint against Mr Welby, saying he failed to act properly when he learnt of the abuse.

More details are in the video (3 minutes).

The Church of England has responded with this statement:

It is in the public domain that when Lambeth was contacted in 2013 about an allegation against Smyth it liaised with the relevant diocese. This was to ensure that the survivor was being supported, police had been informed and that the bishop had contacted the Bishop of Cape Town, where Smyth was then living. However, since a formal complaint has now been received by the National Safeguarding Team, it is reviewing information and will obviously respond on this to the person who brought the complaint and take any further action if needed.

These issues will all be considered by the Makin Review which the Church commissioned last year into the Smyth case and is expected to publish into 2021.

The Telegraph has also reported on this: Church of England investigating complaint over how Archbishop of Canterbury dealt with abuse claims at Christian camps.

COMMENTS

Richard W. Symonds

That “significant cloud” hanging over over Bishop George Bell has floated away from him and is now hanging over Archbishop Justin Welby”

Of course, by implication, this equally applies to the present Bishop of Chichester Martin Warner regarding the Bishop Bell debacle.

It is very difficult to understand why he, Bishop Warner, also still has permission to officiate and can still minister.

Richard W. Symonds

 

“A report [on John Smyth] commissioned by the Iwerne Trust and compiled in 1982, prompted by a suicide attempt by a survivor, was written by a C of E priest, the Revd Mark Ruston, when he was Vicar of Holy Sepulchre with All Saints, Cambridge” ~ Church Times
 
https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2019/18-april/news/uk/smyth-abuse-survivors-dispute-welby-claim
 
The Report – hand-marked ‘strictly confidential’ – was prepared in 1982 by the Rev’d Mark Ruston, vicar of the Round Church in Cambridge. It bears the initials of eight individual addressees – all Anglicans, some clergy – who by ordinary inference are more likely than not to have read and/or known and discussed its contents. It was the reason why John Smyth was removed from his role within the Trust, gave up a glittering career as a leading QC, and quietly left the country in what can only be described as an Establishment cover-up…The Ruston Report resurfaced in or around 2013 within the Titus Trust, the successor organisation to the Iwerne Trust” ~ Martin Sewell
 
https://archbishopcranmer.com/john-smyth-tortured-christian-boys-iwerne-inquiry/
 
“Canon Mark Rushton, a close friend of the Most Rev Justin Welby”
 
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/02/05/teenage-boy-forced-barrister-join-cult-beating-friends/

 

 

A STATEMENT BY THE COMPLAINANT – JULY 28 2020

A statement by the Archbishop Welby complainant at 1030 on 28 July 2020

This statement is issued on behalf of the complainant in the Archbishop Justin Welby case.

On 28 July Channel 4 News correctly reported that Archbishop Justin Welby is under investigation over alleged safeguarding failures, following a complaint I made on 12 June this year. The Church of England has issued a response today that fails to mention Archbishop Welby by name. Instead, the church states that it “ensure[d] that the survivor was being supported, police had been informed and that the Bishop had contacted the Bishop of Cape Town”.

I dispute entirely all three of these assertions.

First, on the matter of support.
I disclosed in the Diocese of Ely in March 2012. Far from supporting me, they were unable to find a counsellor until January 2014, 22 months later. At that stage I was offered £100 towards counselling. In the end I am not aware that the Diocese of Ely paid anything towards the counselling I received. I was not supported.

Second, on the matter of informing the police.
I never met, and was never formally interviewed by, anyone from the Diocese of Ely. I do not recall being told that that the Police had been contacted. It was never suggested that I speak to the Police and I had no contact with them. To this day, I do not know what, if anything, the Diocese of Ely, told the Police.

Third, on the matter of the Church of England relaying concerns to the Diocese of Cape Town. I have in front of me a copy of the letter the church is referring to. On the simple matter of facts, it was not addressed to the Archbishop of Cape Town but to Bishop Garth Counsell, the Bishop of Table Bay. There is no evidence that this letter was in fact sent or received. What is undisputed is that John Smyth continued in his role as Director of the Justice Alliance of South Africa for a further three years, and that during that time he continued to meet and groom young men in Cape Town.

I emailed the Diocese of Ely on at least six occasions, asking if Smyth had been stopped. These emails were sent on 21 May 2014, 16 June 2014, 4 September 2014, 2 December 2014, 10 February 2015 and 25 August 2015. For example, in May 2014 I wrote “What is his position in Cape Town? Have you heard back? A known abuser continues his ministry?….Has every attempt been made to follow up?” In December 2014 I wrote “Can you give me the slightest reassurance that, to the best of your knowledge he is not continuing now?” and in February 2015 I wrote “Can you categorically state that everything within your power has been done…to ensure that he is unable to have any continuing contact with boys and young adults? Have the appropriate authorities a full understanding of his history and the dangers? Has he been stopped?”

I received multiple replies saying that no one had acknowledged their letter to Bishop Counsell. In May 2014 I was told “The Bishop of Ely wrote to the Bishop of Cape Town (sic). There was no reply, either then or when I chased it up. We think they have no equivalent position to [safeguarding officer] in the South African church”. I was told “The only information I have about Smyth is gleaned from his website…..Unfortunately I have no power to compel agencies in South Africa to respond to my concerns and no professional routes to take this further. I know this will be difficult for you to hear and I am sorry that I am unable to say something more positive”.

I was repeatedly told by the Diocese of Ely that they could not get hold of anyone in Cape Town. My last contact with Ely was in August 2015, when I wrote: “Can [you] do nothing? There are no letters from Cape Town, no further leads? The man…may as we speak have a coterie of young men? Has every length been tried to find out?”

I dispute all three responses to my complaint against Archbishop Welby.

The complainant does not wish his name to be in the public domain.

For further information, please contact Andrew Graystone via andrew.graystone1@btinternet.com or 07772 710090.

 

 

MESSAGE FROM MARTIN SEWELL – GENERAL SYNOD MEMBER

Dear friends and colleagues, 

You may have heard that on Monday night Channel 4 News carried the story that a formal complaint has been issued against Archbishop Justin Welby alleging that the disclosure to him of the actions of the serial abuser John Smyth in early 2013 received an inadequate response by both him and Church House then and in the subsequent years, so that Smyth was able to continue his activities and abuse many further victims.  

Quite patently John Smyth was not stopped and remained as Chairman of the Justice Alliance of South Africa until 2017. By reason of this delay Smyth died before facing justice. 

The Church of England has put a statement on its website 

https://www.churchofengland.org/safeguarding/news-and-views/statement-smyth-case

This response was felt to be so inadequate that the complainant has issued the following further detailed rejoinder.

It is important to stress that the complainant victim, who I have spoken to many times, has made every attempt directly and indirectly  to avoid this matter reaching such an unhappy stage. This problem has existed for eight years, he has been very patient. The formal complaint was formally lodged on 12 June 2020; the complainant waited for news, perhaps for an announcement or even an invitation to sit at the core group table, just like the Oxford dons who arrived with no evidence against Dean Martyn Percy. No news or invitation came. “ Graham” of course had first hand evidence to impart.
At General Synod we were told that the establishment of a core group was the triaging system for complaints. Right now, the complainant does not even know if a core group exists or whether some other process applies here. The CofE announcement is buried deep within its website and you may notice that the announcement does not actually say that the usual core group has been established to progress the complaint; rather it says that the NST is simply “reviewing the information”.  
It is such privileged treatment and lack of transparency that has proved to be ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back’.   Both current Archbishops have had their complaints handled quietly, discretely, and remained in active office; Lord George Carey, the Bishop of Lincoln and  Dean Martyn Percy were named publicly and have had their ministries and duties curtailed. 
This sense of institutional injustice is felt keenly by survivors. It may be counter intuitive for most of us: survivors feel the injustice inflicted on senior Churchmen ostensibly in their name. They are incensed at the recognition that Church House continues to be an organisation operating arbitrarily, protecting some reputations, careless of others, and always prioritising its reputation and self interest over simple fairness for all.
You may notice that the CofE website announcement does not even confirm that the complaint specifically names the Archbishop. He, of course, is entitled to a fair hearing and the presumption of innocence which the Church notably denied to such as Bishop Bell in comparatively recent times, and continues to deny Dean Percy,  by progressing a complaint without primary evidence and through a core group thoroughly corrupted, inter alia, by multiple conflicts of interest. Church House never admits it is wrong. 
In his own case, the Archbishop did however, set a high bar for expectations of active involvement when such complaints arise. 

Giving evidence under oath to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) last year, Archbishop Welby said: “Nobody can say it is not my fault. It is so absurd. To say ‘I have heard about a problem but it was someone else’s job to report it’ that is not an acceptable human response, yet alone a leadership response”…..”If you know a child is being abused, not to report it is simply wrong, for every human being”. 

The case “ Graham” advances is that Archbishop Justin neither took sufficient action himself, nor did he ensure that action for justice and prevention had been taken, once Smyth’s cruelty was exposed. Graham” was personally known to the Archbishop as was John Smyth. 

Every attempt to spare the Archbishop and the Church embarrassment has been made but failed. How much of “Graham’s” entreaties have reached the Archbishop personally is less clear. That said, institutionally these wounds are entirely self inflicted. 

I have spoken to the complainant this morning. He says this  ‘I am not driven by a need for revenge or malice. All I want is the truth. We were denied justice by the death of John Smyth. For all to tell the truth, now, that is what we want.’  

Although a number of Church insiders have access to his contact details, nobody from there has communicated with “Graham” since he has reluctantly felt obliged to put the fact of his complaint into the public domain. His support continues to come entirely from the survivor community and their friends. The endurance of returning to remembrances of injustice is what victim survivors call “re-abuse”.
Martin Sewell

JULY 27 2020 – FROM THE ARCHIVES [OCTOBER 22 2015 – CHURCH OF ENGLAND STATEMENT BY THE BISHOP OF CHICHESTER MARTIN WARNER ON THE RT REVD GEORGE BELL – 1883-1958]

 

October 22 2015 – Church of England Statement by the Bishop of Chichester Martin Warner on the Rt Revd George Bell (1883-1958):
 
“In this case, the scrutiny of the allegation has been thorough, objective, and undertaken by people who command the respect of all parties…The settlement followed a thorough pre-litigation process during which further investigations into the claim took place including the commissioning of expert independent reports. None of those reports found any reason to doubt the veracity of the claim”
 
Ponder this if you will, then decide what action to take.
 
In Chichester, action has already taken place by restoring 4 Canon Lane back to George Bell House:
 
https://richardwsymonds.wordpress.com/2020/07/26/july-26-2020-george-bell-house-4-canon-lane-chichester-po19-1px/
 
More action is to follow.

Bishop of Chichester Dr Martin Warner

Photo source: Wiki

JULY 26 2020 – GOOD NEWS: NAME RESTORED – GEORGE BELL HOUSE ?

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George Bell House, 4 Canon Lane, Chichester [Picture taken before October 2015] – Photo with permission [Ref: OY20430914]

TRIPADVISOR – GEORGE BELL HOUSE, 4 CANON LANE

This is GEORGE BELL HOUSE

Review of 4 Canon Lane
Reviewed 26 May 2016

It was difficult to find George Bell House because the Cathedral owners have decided to excise the memory of Bishop George Bell by reason of some trumped up or badly managed allegations against a man who cannot answer from the grave. It is now called simply 4 Canon Lane. This should be reversed.

That aside, our room was large, comfortable, had superb views of both the cathedral and towards the Bishops Palace Gardens, was well equipped. All very good.

Breakfast on a sunny day, with the doors open to the garden, was a wonderful start to the day, with a perfectly cooked full English breakfast served by a delightful waitress.

Date of stay: May 2016
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CHICHESTER CATHEDRAL ENTERPRISES – 4 CANON LANE

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GEORGE BELL HOUSE, 4 CANON LANE, CHICHESTER PO19 1PX

George Bell House

Phone: 01243 813586
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George Bell House - 4 Canon Lane - Chichester Cathedral

George Bell House – 4 Canon Lane – Chichester Cathedral – before the name change [Permission and payment for use photo]

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LETTER SUBMISSION [NOT PUBLISHED – JULY 30 2020]

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Dear Chichester Observer Editor

 

First, the bad news (‘Closure surely not justified / Dismayed by closure proposal’, Observer Letters, June 25): Chichester Cathedral Enterprises has closed its Cloisters Cafe – “aka Bishop Bell Tea Rooms” – and made redundancies.

 

Second, the good news: 4 Canon Lane has been restored back to its original name of George Bell House [Please note: this is subject to confirmation by Cathedral Enterprises]

 

But is George Bell House – another ‘jewel in the crown’ of this city – now threatened with closure?

 

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

Richard W. Symonds

The Bell Society

 

JULY 26 2020 – BAD NEWS: CHICHESTER CATHEDRAL ENTERPRISES TO CLOSE ITS CLOISTERS CAFE [AKA BISHOP BELL TEA ROOMS] AND MAKE REDUNDANCIES

CHICHESTER CATHEDRAL ENTERPRISES TO CLOSE ITS CLOISTERS CAFE [AKA BISHOP BELL TEA ROOMS] AND MAKE REDUNDANCIES

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LETTER SUBMISSION

 

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Dear Editor

 

First, the bad news (‘Closure surely not justified / Dismayed by closure proposal’, Observer Letters, June 25): Chichester Cathedral Enterprises has closed its Cloisters Cafe – “aka Bishop Bell Tea Rooms” – and made redundancies.

 

Second, the good news: 4 Canon Lane has been restored back to its original name of George Bell House.

 

But is George Bell House – another ‘jewel in the crown’ of this city – now threatened with closure?

 

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

Richard W. Symonds

The Bell Society

 

JULY 25 2020 – CHURCH OF ENGLAND TO BE ‘DEFROCKED’ FOR ITS INCOMPETENT HANDLING OF SEXUAL ABUSE CASES ?

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There is important business which the Synod must transact before the end of this year. This includes…amending safeguarding legislation to take account of recommendations from the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA)...”

Letter from the Presidents of Synod [The Archbishops] – July 22 2020

“It is likely that the establishment of an independent body to investigate safeguarding complaints and allegations will be recommended by IICSA when it issues its final report on the Anglican church, due in the coming months”

 David Lamming – General Synod Member [Comment on ‘Thinking Anglicans’ – July 25 2020]

 

JULY 24 2020 – “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 TO REPRESENT THEMSELVES, OR BE REPRESENTED, IN THE FULL KNOWLEDGE OF THE ACCUSATION, IS NOT SUSTAINABLE, AND IS, ON THE FACE OF IT, UNLAWFUL” ~ LORD ALEX CARLILE QC

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Lord Alex Carlile QC

“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 TO REPRESENT THEMSELVES, OR BE REPRESENTED, IN THE FULL KNOWLEDGE OF THE ACCUSATION IS NOT SUSTAINABLE, AND IS, ON THE FACE OF IT, UNLAWFUL” ~ LORD ALEX CARLILE QC

 

“Perhaps this is an appropriate time to be reminded of what Lord Carlile also said last year – February 1 2019: “I hope that this event [‘Rebuilding Bridges’ – Ed] will add to the clamour for the Church to admit the awful mistakes it has made in dealing with unsubstantiated allegations against Bishop Bell. His name should never have been publicised before allegations were investigated. The Church should now accept that my recommendations should be accepted in full, and that after due process, however delayed, George Bell should be declared by the Church to be innocent of the allegations made against him” ~ Richard W. Symonds

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Richard W. Symonds – The Bell Society

 

 

“LORD CARLILE QUESTIONS LAWFULNESS OF PERCY SAFEGUARDING INVESTGATION” – ‘THINKING ANGLICANS’ – SIMON SARMIENTO

by PAUL HANDLEY

24 JULY 2020

Lord Carlile’s remarks refer to safeguarding core group’s meeting

 

DAVID HARTLEY/CHURCH TIMES

The Very Revd Professor Martyn Percy

 

LORD CARLILE, a leading QC, has suggested that the safeguarding  investigation into the Dean of Christ Church, the Very Revd Professor Martyn Percy, is potentially unlawful.

His remarks this week relate to the creation of a safeguarding core group containing senior figures from Christ Church College, Oxford, who had complained to the Church’s National Safeguarding Team (NST) about the Dean, who is also the college’s Head of House.

The complaint is the latest move in a long-running dispute, during which, at one point, the Dean was suspended from his duties at both the college and the cathedral. The Dean was cleared of all the original charges in an internal inquiry led by Sir Andrew Smith (News, 23 August 2019), but is not being permitted to chair most of the college’s Governing Body while an employment tribunal is pending for the recovery of the near-£500,000 legal costs of his defence. The college’s legal bill is now alleged to be about £3 million.

Colleagues of the Dean have argued that, by agreeing to investigate the safeguarding accusations lodged by officers of the college, the Church of England is being “played” (News, 19 June). The Dean denies any mishandling of the four incidents under investigation.

A meeting of the safeguarding core group to consider the case was held on 13 March. As is customary, the Dean, as the person accused, was not represented. The group, however, contained three members of Christ Church who had made complaints against him. One left Oxford shortly afterwards; the other two have since been removed (News, 17 July).

That March meeting, however, is the only one that has been held, and approved the basis of the investigation into the Dean.

Lord Carlile, a former president of the Howard League for Penal Reform, became familiar with the C of E’s safeguarding practices through his independent investigation of the posthumous accusations against the late Bishop of Chichester George Bell. He concluded that the Church had “failed to engage in a process which would also give proper consideration to the rights of the bishop” (News, 22 December 2017).

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.”

There are other complications to this case. It seems that no minutes were taken at the 13 March core-group meeting. A later note, circulated by its chair in mid-June, does not record any question about conflicts of interest. Dean Percy contends that further conflicts of interest exist, in that the majority of the group’s members have had dealings with WS Law (Winckworth Sherwood), the Oxford-based legal firm that has represented Christ Church in its dispute with the Dean.

It further emerges that Chris Smart, the independent investigator appointed by the NST, has Alison Talbot, a partner at WS Law, as his Christ Church point of contact. She is said to have been “assisting him with his enquiries”, but had not, apparently, disclosed to him that she was involved in the legal dispute. Nor had two of the original complainants on the core group.

Several colleagues of the Dean, as well as other legal experts, have also queried the NST’s jurisdiction. Christ Church is essentially outside the diocesan structure, and the safeguarding concerns were reported to its Dean as Head of House. Dean Percy is currently awaiting a legal justification for the investigation from the secretary-general of the Archbishops’ Council, William Nye.

As it stands, clerics who are employed by bodies other than the Church, such as hospital or college chaplains, must have “due regard” for the Church’s safeguarding protocols. Although Dean Percy is Dean of Christ Church Cathedral, he has no need for permission to officiate from the Bishop of Oxford. It is thought, none the less, that the core group’s report will eventually go to the Bishop.

OTHER STORIES

Two members are removed from core group in Percy case, owing to conflict of interest

 

The Dean has consistently argued that any allegations of past abuse made by adults are subject to clergy codes of conduct, data protection, and college and university codes of confidentiality. All were adults; none was at risk; and none of the alleged perpetrators was in a position to commit any further harm. When Christ Church approached the police, the police declined to investigate further. The University of Oxford has taken a similar line. None of the four alleged survivors has complained about Dean Percy.

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.”

JULY 21 2020 – “WE SEEM TO BE WITNESSING EVIL AND CORRUPTION ON A GRAND SCALE” – STEPHEN PARSONS – ‘SURVIVING CHURCH’

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THINKING ANGLICANS

“We seem to be witnessing evil and corruption on a grand scale” ~ Stephen Parsons – ‘Surviving Church’

Some updates on safeguarding matters

Several developments relating to safeguarding in the Church of England.

The Insurance Post reports that Ecclesiastical Insurance had an apologetically-worded statement in its annual report, published not long after its appearance at the IICSA hearings: Briefing: Ecclesiastical’s child abuse claims shame – CEO Hews’ admission too little too late? Scroll down in the article for the full text of the EIO statement.

The Church Times reports: Two members are removed from core group in Percy case, owing to conflict of interest

TWO members of the core group set up to examine accusations of safeguarding breaches by the Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, the Very Revd Dr Martyn Percy, have been removed after they were deemed to have a conflict of interest in the case, the National Safeguarding Team (NST) has confirmed…
…In May, Private Eye reported that the core group established by the NST of the Church of England earlier this year included two members of the college who had supported complaints against Dean Percy, including the Senior Censor, Professor Geraldine Johnson (News 29 May). The Dean is not represented on the core group, although one of the two college members was reportedly asked to represent him and declined. It is assumed that these are the two members removed from the core group…

The article goes on to report the question asked by Martin Sewell (and answered by the Bishop of Huddersfield) at the General Synod meeting on 11 July about whether, by including complainants in the core group, the Church had “embraced the concept of ‘unconscious bias’”.

Martin Sewell also had a letter in the Church Times last week Anonymity and representation in safeguarding (scroll down)

Sir, — The inauguration of the ministry of the new Archbishop of York, the Most Revd Stephen Cottrell, was a great joy to many in the Church who know his writings and enthusiasm for spreading the gospel. It is a shame that, for reasons outside his control, it occurred under the shadow of the suspicion that he enjoyed the privilege of anonymity while a safeguarding complaint was considered against him, whereas Lord Carey found the fact of his investigation in the hands of the press within three hours of his being notified.
This was wholly unnecessary. Had the recommendations of the C­­­arlile report been accepted and implemented in full, everyone under inquiry would have enjoyed anonymity pending investigation and there would have been a level playing field for both men.
Furthermore, Lord Carlile recommended that the respondent be given representation at the core group table: a recommendation that, had it been implemented, would have avoided the current débâcle over Dean Percy. In his report on Bishop Bell, Lord Carlile wrote: “There was no discussion whatsoever of the need to ensure the justice of the case by examining the facts from Bishop Bell’s standpoint. This issue seems to have been totally abandoned.”
One suspects that this is equally true in the Percy case, but we cannot know, as the Dean is refused access to the minutes.
Finally, the House Bishops Guidelines have not been updated over two years after they accepted the Carlile recommendations — except the one about anonymity –though they have applied that one in favour of someone they wish to advance.
I hope and believe that Archbishop Cottrell has the commitment to justice to drive forward the necessary change, by implementing all review recommendations, from the office to which he has now been called.

Stephen Parsons at Surviving Church has a detailed further analysis of the NST’s Core Groups and the Carlisle recommendations in Revisiting the Carlile Review: A Critique of Church Core Groups? This deserves reading in full, but he concludes thus:

…Can we detect in any way that the Core Group was being ‘managed’ to satisfy the needs of the Church communications department and its desire for good PR?  Were the Archbishop and Bishop of Chichester making statements suggested to them by their highly remunerated reputation managers?  If Carlile’s critical Review is pointing us in this direction, then it follows that similar pressures will also be at work in the 2020 Percy Group.  Are Core Groups, in other words, subject to being managed to suit the purposes of the reputation launderers working for the Church? In the comments I made about Bishop Jonathan’s responses to questions at the recent Synod, I suggested that the management of safeguarding issues was being handed over to a team of lawyers.  Such lawyers would be the ones seeking to defend the Church and protect its good name.  Now, after reading the Carlile report again, I am left wondering whether it is in fact the power of reputation managers and communication departments that we see operating behind the scenes and making the decisions for our Church.  If that is the case, then our Church will not be taking too seriously the cause of transparency, justice and truth.  These and other Christian values like honesty and right dealing may only ever be paraded in public when they can serve the purposes of good PR!

This rereading of the Carlile report and the way that it revealed rampant ‘unconscious bias’, to quote from Martin Sewell’s question at last Synod, allows us to point once again to our ongoing concerns over the Percy Core Group. Conflicts of interest still abound there. Quite apart from the inappropriate placing of two complainants in the Group, there are the collusions we have pointed to before between firms of lawyers, reputation managers and those at Christ Church who have manipulated the Church and the NST to operate in their interests. If the incompetence of the Bell Core Group was a scandal, the sheer apparent malevolence at work in this present Percy Group is one which is driving out all pretensions to ethical behaviour and Christian values. We seem to be witnessing evil and corruption on a grand scale. Will the Church at the national level be able to rescue this situation and allow it to come through this appalling crisis?

 

3 COMMENTS
Martin Hislop
More evidence as to why an Independent Ecclesiastical Ombudsman needs to appointed.
Richard W. Symonds

“We seem to be witnessing evil and corruption on a grand scale”

If that is the case, then we all have a responsibility to act. To do nothing – or not enough – is not an option.

Last edited 3 hours ago by Richard W. Symonds
Adrian

 

An apparent conflict of interest on this scale and nature should be a resigning issue for those who allegedly accepted places without declaring it, and for those who asked them to be on the committee.