Category Archives: Martyn Percy


Martyn Percy: Testing Trials and Egregious Errors: Some Good Friday Reflections

Modern Church

Published by  joe on  April 15, 2022

three cross under cloudy sky

Pilate was a representative of civil power and clearly unpersuaded by the allegation that Jesus claimed to be a king. He realised that Jesus had done no wrong over which he had legitimate jurisdiction. Even after Jesus had been “accused of many things”, Pilate asked, “What evil has [Jesus] done?”. He did not receive any kind of answer. He could have regarded the issues as internal to the Jews and for them to settle. However, Pilate’s aim was not justice but expediency. He showed little interest in a fair-minded and dispassionate investigation, and saw the death of Jesus as an instrumentally good for civil order, and his own reputation with Rome. The outcome of the hearing before Pilate, with its palpable lack of evidence, was craven, and it led to the destruction of an innocent man. Such a use of power is neither just nor based on truth. It is not the way that power with God is to be used.

So, there it is: expediency, flawed justice, lack of evidence, a crowd baying to destroy an innocent man: “what need have we have of any proper process, or of further testimony?”.  Does this sound at all familiar to any of you here today?  Or others crying out for justice? Alexander Solzhenitsyn once opined that there always is this fallacious belief: “it would not be the same here and now…”: such evil things would now be impossible. He did not agree.

Hannah Arendt, our foremost scholar of totalitarianism, had this to say: “totalitarianism in power invariably replaces all first-rate talents, regardless of their sympathies, with those crackpots and fools whose lack of intelligence and creativity is still the best guarantee of their loyalty.” That is part of the reason why Donald Trump got away with so much. He once said: “I value loyalty above everything else, more than brains, more than drive and more than energy”. Trump’s exultation of personal loyalty over expertise is exactly what we see in the Church of England today.

The National Safeguarding Team is riddled with this crippling virus; they caught it off the Archbishops’ Council. Indeed, almost every Bishop’s Senior Staff Team has the virus, as do all Diocesan Synods and most of General Synod.  There is no vaccine. Most church committees that have the virus do not even know they are ill, and have no way of recognising how weak they have become.

Those leading the Church of England claim that we are making progress on all safeguarding fronts.  In truth, we are locked in an endless, cruel slow circularity.  One that is not overseen by theological leadership, but rather an ecclesial version of Foucault’s “carceral system” – process-orientated project-managed persecution that makes an example of one; but then sets entire cohorts of Barabbas’ free. Where is the justice, reason and proportionality?

The Church of England runs an unsafe, unprofessional, untrustworthy, unreliable and unstable safeguarding system. It is partial in who it expedites, and who it excoriates.  The system lacks self-awareness, emotional intelligence, integrity (i.e., has no employment law rights for clergy accused), probity or compassion. Its Core Groups are untrained, unlicensed and unregulated. There are barely written conflicts of interest policy. The accused and the abused are not allowed legal representation and instead are met with bias and gassy-gossip masquerading as ‘pastoral concern’.

The only safe thing left to do is not be part of an unsafe system. The system is incompetent, corrupt and unfit for purpose, and one that fails, soils and stigmatises everyone it comes into contact with. The system set up to deal with abuse is systematically abusive. It is harmful, and dangerous. The system is riddled with favouritism, nepotism, incompetence and scapegoating. Small institutions run by small people will strive for sectarian objectives…and produce sickly results.

I have called this out because I dare to believe we might be speaking for the many, not the few.  I am also free to speak my mind, and I choose to do so.  As George Orwell (Nineteen Eighty-Four) wrote, “if liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear”.  Yes, that was Orwell.  It could just as easily have been Tutu, Gandhi, Mandela or Martin Luther King Jr. Bonhoeffer wrote “Not to speak is to speak; not to act is to act”. Far too many of our church leaders will not comment or speak out. They fail to register concern or any compassion, as though their silence and inaction absolved them.

I am not asking for protests or for rebellion.  I call instead for quiet revolution, reform and loyal dissent.  Our refusal to put up with the poor leadership in the Church of England that has given us this culture and ecclesial politics, and expects us to live with it. We should not tolerate it one bit longer.  We should instead seek a proper, deep and cleansing spiritual renewal. But first we may need some proper public exorcism within our institution before we can even get this work started.

Giving ourselves totally to Christ is not an abstraction or a pious thought. It must be concrete and communal. Freedom is responsibility. It means to live within the truth, even when it hurts. The early twentieth century Young Christian Workers movement who went by the name of ‘Jocists’ had a motto: See, Judge, Act. See meant to be awake to the realities around you. Judge was a command to discern soberly the meaning of those realities in the light of what you knew to be true, especially from the teachings of Christ.  Act, that finally, after you reach a mind, you are then required to resist evil.

The cowardice and indifference amongst our church leadership is extremely disturbing to observe, and even worse to experience. I have seen far too much of it over the years. But my experience of it, personally, and first-hand, has left me wondering if any person who is unable to care and show moral courage and leadership should ever be a Bishop of anywhere to anyone. I think not. A Bishop who cannot show care for their clergy surely needs to find a different job.

Perhaps like me you are weary of lame excuses that sanction poor procedures, poor practice, and poor prelates.  We are in desperate need of fearless care and moral leadership that begins at home, and weeds out the dysfunctional and damaging systems, customs and praxis that cause much suffering.  We should perhaps begin with safeguarding, which is now so unsafe that it has become as wicked as any of the abuse it was supposed to be addressing.  But where will we find a Bishop today with courage and conviction to take responsibility?

John Banville, writing of the abuse scandals that have engulfed the Roman Catholic Church for decades, noted that “everyone knew, but no-one said…I have heard no-one address the question of what it means, in this context, to know” (‘A Century of Looking the Other Way’, New York Times, 22 May 2009).  The Church of England knows its own corruption too; yet chooses silence, indifference and amnesia.  I have no right to a Good Samaritan. Nobody does. But surely that is the point of the parable? Good, humane care is what Jesus asks us to do. It is worth the risk. In God’s eyes, every person is worth that risk – Jesus embodies that. Is it really too much to ask for Bishops, governance and leadership in our churches who understand this, to now act? I dare to hope we will live to see the day when our churches are led with courage, compassion, care and wisdom. By lions, not donkeys; shepherds, not wolves; Good People, not Daleks (with flat batteries and circuitry issues). I fear we cannot wait much longer, but wait in hope, we must.

“My criticism of Chichester Cathedral’s hierarchy is as nothing compared to Martyn Percy’s criticism of the Church of England hierarchy. Both hierarchies have nowhere to hide” – Richard W. Symonds – The Bell Society


Opinion – on Saturday, 16 April 2022 at 11.09 am by Peter Owen

Archbishop Cranmer Maundy Thursday: there needs to be some foot-washing in Oxford



Thank you to Archbishop Cranmer for highlighting the continuing shame of the Christ Church Oxford scandal.

The shameful treatment of Martyn Percy at the end of his time at Christ Church – must be called out. 

Has the Bishop of Oxford authority to stop a person preaching in St Mary’s, Oxford and if he does surely he must say why.

What is the position of the sub dean of the Cathedral in all this? This must be called out too. It is said he ordered locks to be changed (and what expense?) to keep the Dean out of the Cathedral. Really – how Christian is that. Surely he could have organised a conciliatory farewell to the Dean. Apparently charges against the sub dean have been made of a more serious nature (in the church’s procedures) than those made against the dean. However it seems they are being swept under the carpet.

How can the Bishop of Oxford be called out to explain his conduct? Has he no accountability for his actions – or lack of action?

Richard W. Symonds

Richard W. Symonds

Reply to Dave

The Bishop of Oxford, the Sub Dean, and whoever is ‘advising’ them, need to be called out for perpetuating a miscarriage of justice – and perverting the course of justice by obstructing it.

“That he is here with me now gives me a constant reminder of what I might have lost – and how the innocent can be wrongly accused in the so-called name of justice” – Ann Jones – ‘No Smoke, No Fire’ – The Autobiography of Dave Jones – Page 189 [Know The Score Books 2009]

“No doubt there will be people who are going to think there is no smoke without fire. I can do nothing about that except to say such an attitude would be wrong” – Judge David Clarke – ‘No Smoke, No Fire’ – The Autobiography of Dave Jones – Back Flyleaf

No Smoke

No Fire

No Cloud


The Very Revd Professor Martyn Percy – Dean of Christ Church

on Tuesday, 8 September 2020 at 10.57 am by Simon Sarmiento
categorised as Church of EnglandSafeguarding


Dean of Christ Church cleared of all safeguarding accusations

Updated again Wednesday morning

The Church of England has issued this Statement on Christ Church, Oxford:

Bishop of Huddersfield, Jonathan Gibbs, the Church of England’s lead safeguarding bishop said: “An independent investigation into allegations that the Dean, Martyn Percy, failed to fulfil his safeguarding responsibilities has concluded the Dean acted entirely appropriately in each case. The National Safeguarding Team, NST, followed the House of Bishops guidance when the four separate allegations were referred earlier in the year relating to the Dean, a senior office holder. At no point was there any allegation or evidence that the Dean presented a direct risk to any child or vulnerable adult.

I am aware this has been a very difficult time for all parties, particularly Martyn and his family, and I would like to thank everyone for their cooperation. There will of course be lessons to learn about the processes, as there are with any safeguarding case, and that is an essential part of our guidance to make the Church a safer place for all. We welcome the Dean’s commitment to taking part in this. Now the investigation has concluded and the Dean has been exonerated of these safeguarding allegations, the NST’s involvement has come to an end. I continue to pray for his ministry and the life of the Cathedral and its mission in the diocese and wider Church.

As I have said before, the 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 Diocese of Oxford has issued this Statement on Christ Church, Oxford from the Bishop of Oxford

The Very Revd. Professor Martyn Percy
Statement on Christ Church, Oxford from the Bishop of Oxford
8 September 2020

In March this year it was alleged that the Very Revd. Professor Martyn Percy, a senior member of the clergy and Dean of Christ Church Oxford, had not fulfilled his safeguarding responsibilities. The National Safeguarding Team (NST) duly appointed an independent safeguarding person, who was asked to investigate and report back. The report has concluded that the Dean acted entirely appropriately in each case. The Bishop of Oxford has issued the following statement:

“I welcome the news that the investigation by the National Safeguarding Team (NST) has concluded and that Martyn is exonerated. The investigation process was not without pain, and could have been concluded more quickly, but it is entirely right that allegations against clergy and church officers are properly investigated when they are made. This investigation brings full closure to the matter put before the NST, though these continue to be testing times for all at Christ Church. My prayers remain with Martyn and Emma, the Chapter and wider College at the start of this new academic year.”

The Rt Revd Dr Steven Croft, Bishop of Oxford

The Church Times has published this news report: Dean Percy exonerated over safeguarding charges. This rehearses a good deal of the background.

Update 1:
Christ Church has now issued this: Statement from Christ Church on Church of England Safeguarding Investigation.

8 September 2020

“The Church of England’s National Safeguarding Team has announced the outcome of its independent investigation into the handling of four disclosures to the Dean of Christ Church, made by survivors of sexual assault. The NST has now informed Christ Church that its report concludes there has been no breach of the Church of England’s protocols.

“Safeguarding is of the utmost importance at Christ Church, and it is our obligation to report such concerns appropriately. After a query from a national newspaper regarding a serious sexual assault, an independent QC advised that a referral should be made to the Church of England as the handling of such disclosures fell within its jurisdiction. It is vital that everyone has the confidence to report safeguarding concerns. We will be reviewing the NST’s findings with regard to Christ Church’s safeguarding responsibilities.

“Our thoughts are with all survivors of abuse. If anyone affected by this news requires support, they should contact the police or the relevant safeguarding authority.

Update 2
Martin Sewell
 has written at Archbishop CranmerChurch of England clears Martyn Percy of all safeguarding allegations.

“Lest anyone urge us to swiftly move on, suggesting that a good outcome is sufficient closure, let us remind ourselves that a man and his family have been put through the most awful experience by powerful, well-resourced bullies using other people’s money to pursue their own grievances and protect their own vanities. That they failed is good, but both the University of Oxford and the Church of England have a moral duty to look carefully into how this happened, and to ensure it cannot not happen again” ~ Martin Sewell

Harriet Sherwood writes in the GuardianChurch clears Oxford college dean after ‘black ops campaign to discredit him’.
Headline later changed to Church clears Oxford college dean over alleged safeguarding failures.

Tim Wyatt at Religion Media Centre has Oxford dean cleared by abuse investigation and Christ Church Oxford timeline.

Update 3
The Times Dean of Christ Church Oxford cleared of safeguarding failures

Telegraph Oxford University dean finally exonerated after safeguarding dispute

Daily Mail Dean of Oxford’s Christ Church college is cleared of all safeguarding allegations in abuse row

Cherwell Christ Church dean exonerated after safeguarding allegations Subscribe 


3000{}[+]30 COMMENTSOldest 

Richard W. Symonds

Richard W. Symonds 1 day ago

Next stop: full exoneration for Bishop George Bell? 

Richard W. Symonds

Richard W. Symonds 1 day ago Reply to  Richard W. Symonds

Just imagine Archbishop Welby now saying there is still a “significant cloud” over Martyn Percy?!

If you can imagine it, then perhaps you can better understand how the Bishop Bell advocates feel. 

John Wallace

John Wallace 1 day ago

Really great news and an answer to the prayers of many. I do hope and pray that his accusers will consider their positions as well as make a full public apology. Reply

Rowland Wateridge

Rowland Wateridge 1 day ago Reply to  John Wallace

The signs aren’t promising when the public statement concludes “If anyone affected by this news requires support, they should contact the police or the relevant safeguarding authority.” (My italics.) Reply

Sam Norton

Sam Norton 1 day ago

That Christ Church statement reads like it was written by someone chewing on a wasp.

Mark Beach

Mark Beach 1 day ago Reply to  Sam Norton

Thank you, my thoughts entirely, but put in a very much more poetic way. Its hardly a ringing endorsement….

Can one hope for new beginnings at Christ Church? Reply

Toby Forward

Toby Forward 1 day ago

Mealy-mouthed and mendacious statement by Christ Church. There now needs to be some form of reform of the governing body. Reply

David Lamming

David Lamming 1 day ago Reply to  Toby Forward

A number of questions need to be answered by Christ Church: (i) who was responsible for and/or authorised the above statement on the College website? (ii) will the remainder of the Governing Body now disown the censors who made the wholly misconceived complaint about the Dean to the NST? (iii) who was the ‘independent QC’ who advised referral of the matter to the Church of England and will the College publish his/her advice and the instructions setting out the basis on which it was sought? (iv) what has been the cost to the College (legal fees and those of the… Read more » Reply

Rowland Wateridge

Rowland Wateridge 22 hours ago Reply to  David Lamming

I am baffled by the final sentence of the Christ Church statement quoted above. Who, in these circumstances, would require ‘support’ – for which they are told they should contact the police and ‘relevant’ safeguarding authority? Is this further mischief-making or just incompetence – using a ‘standard’ wording irrespective of the circumstances – I wonder? Reply

Sam Jones

Sam Jones 1 day ago

It is good that Martyn Percy has been cleared, but his position is untenable if the governing body have no confidence in him. Reply


Kate 1 day ago Reply to  Sam Jones

Isn’t it senior members of the Governing Body who past and potential benefactors will wish to see held to account for the millions of unnecessary expenditure? Reply

Richard W. Symonds

Richard W. Symonds 1 day ago Reply to  Sam Jones

The position of those in the governing body is untenable – there is no confidence in them.


Froghole 1 day ago Reply to  Sam Jones

I think this is right. I am an alumnus of Christ Church, and deplore what has happened. I agree with many of the pro-Percy comments (notably that of Interested Observer). However, the relationship between dean and governing body has become so bitter, so envenomed and so visceral that it is difficult to see how Dr Percy can be an effective leader of the ‘college’. Other heads of house have resigned, and in far milder contexts, when they have lost the confidence of their respective governing bodies. Whilst Dr Percy may be entitled to a feeling of victory, he might lose… Read more » Reply

Fr Gustavo

Fr Gustavo 1 day ago

Perhaps this has been already answered, but, with all that it is going on, would not a Visitation be in order? Reply


Richard 23 hours ago Reply to  Fr Gustavo

A quote from the Financial Times: (less than 30 words, so permissible according to their copyright rules)

“In another unfortunate piece of heritage, the Visitor is the Queen, whom nobody wants to involve.” Reply


Froghole 13 hours ago Reply to  Richard

Many thanks. I really don’t think that anyone believes that the sovereign would be involved personally. What is more likely to happen is that the private secretary to the sovereign, or perhaps also (and more probably) the privy council, would be petitioned about a possible formal visitation or the creation of a dispute resolution mechanism (there is also an outside chance that they might act of their own motion after taking ‘soundings’). Then, following receipt of that petition and/or consultations, the sovereign (i.e., the prime minister) would secure appointment of a deputy, who will probably be a retired senior judge.… Read more » Reply

Rowland Wateridge

Rowland Wateridge 11 hours ago Reply to  Froghole

I don’t know how many times I have dealt with these points on earlier TA threads! The procedure for Visitations is all set out in Statute XXXVI (at pages 37-39 of the Christ Church Statutes), and far too long to repeat here. It provides for both a ‘routine’ Visitation every ten years (at Her Majesty’s option) or by intervention. I’m unsure about the machinery for appointing Her Majesty’s Commissary. A retired senior judge seems a likely appointee. There has always been a direct right of appeal to the Crown, which I quote again below, but for whatever reason it has… Read more » Reply

Richard W. Symonds

Richard W. Symonds 12 hours ago Reply to  Richard

“In another unfortunate piece of heritage, the Visitor is the Queen, whom nobody wants to involve.”

Why not?

Her Majesty is the Supreme Governor of the Church of England!

Dominic Barrington

Dominic Barrington 20 hours ago Reply to  Fr Gustavo

I think you are making a false assumption about the powers of the bishop in relation to this unique (and utterly dysfunctional) cathedral. Reply

Interested Observer

Interested Observer 1 day ago

It isn’t actually Confucius, although often credited to him (or James Bond, either will do): “before setting off on revenge, first dig two graves”. It strikes me that there is no way that this ends well for either Christ Church corporately or for Martin Percy’s persecutors. Even “victory” is hollow (Tacitus actually did write “ubi solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant”), if their definition of “victory” is Martyn Percy’s departure; the resulting employment tribunal looks increasingly difficult and the attempt to use CofE safeguarding as a weapon can only backfire in both the short and long term. The loss of credibility for… Read more » Reply

Pete Broadbent

Pete Broadbent 1 day ago

Martyn Percy cleared of all [trumped up] “charges” This is very good news! But it can’t end there – a full interrogation of how the NST became the patsy of the CC Oxford dons/plotters & into the procedures the NST employ must now take place. Reply


Kate 1 day ago Reply to  Pete Broadbent

Yes Reply

Paul Roberts

Paul Roberts 1 day ago Reply to  Pete Broadbent

Indeed. Reply


dr.primrose 1 day ago

There’s an issue of the waste of money for legal proceedings on behalf on the college, which raises the issue of whether the complaints should be required to repay that amount. There’s also an issue of the fees that Percy incurred. I haven’t read anything about that. Is the college liable for those? Reply


Richard 23 hours ago Reply to  dr.primrose

I recall that previous articles about this have said that Percy is liable. There was a campaign underway to assist him financially. Does anyone know differently? Reply


Kate 17 hours ago

Does anyone know what standard of proof Core Groups work to? Is it “beyond reasonable doubt”, “balance of probabilities” or something unique to the Church of England? Reply

Richard W. Symonds

Richard W. Symonds 12 hours ago Reply to  Kate

Something unique to the Church of England: faithful belief in its own infallibility. 


Kate 3 hours ago Reply to  Richard W. Symonds

That’s something which needs to be fixed. Reply

Bill Broadhead

Bill Broadhead 12 hours ago

“An independent investigation into allegations…” Come on, it was hardly that, was it – and since when has the NST been in any way “independent”? Was the Bishop at Lambeth and Ecclesiastical Insurance in the room? While I share the widespread delight that this aspect of the burden Martyn Percy and those closest to him are carrying, if there had not been a significant challenge to the way the NST Core Group for this complaint was set up, there could have been a catastrophic miscarriage of justice. So, to my mind, nil points for the C of E over this… Read more » Reply

Father Ron Smith

Father Ron Smith 12 hours ago

This is very welcome news- especially to those of us who have witnessed with growing amazement the chutzpah of Dean Martyn Percy’s accusers. One hopes they will do the right thing now and meet all of Martyn’s legal expenses. They should also be responsible for some substantial monetary compensation for what Martyn and his family have suffered during this unfortunate breach of common justice. Reply