Tag Archives: Church House Westminster

MAY 28 2020 – CHRIST CHURCH AT WAR – PRIVATE EYE

https://www.private-eye.co.uk/in-the-back

in the back

Christ Church at war

Oxford by gaslight, Issue 1522

martyn-percy.jpg

OXFORD BLUES: Dr Martyn Percy, dean of Christ Church, Oxford, who is being hounded by a cabal of disgruntled dons and ex-dons

THE dean of Christ Church, Oxford, has a unique double status: head of a major university college and senior resident cleric at the city’s cathedral. As the current incumbent the Very Revd Dr Martyn Percy is learning, two jobs also mean twice the opportunities for a cabal of disgruntled dons and ex-dons who want to force him out.

War was publicly declared in September 2018, when seven of them formally accused Percy of “conduct of an immoral, scandalous or disgraceful nature” – the wording that justifies removal from office under college statutes (Eye 1484). The governing body duly suspended him and set up an internal tribunal, chaired by the retired high court judge Sir Andrew Smith. The college said the dispute “relates to issues surrounding the dean’s own pay and how it is set”, without explaining how that could be immoral or scandalous.

Percy had indeed proposed a pay review for himself, and for the treasurer and bursar. But his enemies were plotting well before that. The old guard didn’t see Percy – adopted, and from a humble background – as “one of us”. They were also infuriated by his attempts to modernise the college’s safeguarding practices, following a violent incident involving a student.

The sword of truth

Internal emails seen by Sir Andrew Smith revealed what the judge called “distinct hostility” from a clique of former “Censors”, the academics who regulate the college’s academic and social life. “He’s got to go,” an emeritus professor wrote in an email to cronies. “Does anyone know any good poisoners?” Another commented: “Just think of the Inspector Morse episode we could make when his wrinkly withered little body is found at Osney Lock.”

Sir Andrew Smith’s inquiry, completed last August, rejected all charges against the dean. His 110-page report, which the Eye has seen, often seems bemused by the whole affair: “I find it difficult to understand the real complaints… I cannot understand the Prosecutor’s reasoning… Nor can I understand how the dean can be said to be guilty of culpable behaviour, still less immoral, scandalous or disgraceful conduct.”

When the Censors read the report, they promptly lived up to their name by announcing that the rest of the governing body would get only a heavily redacted version. But college alumnus Revd Jonathan Aitken then deployed the sword of truth and the trusty shield of British fair play. Outraged that a “small cabal of anti-dean dons” were suppressing the report, in February this year he sent unredacted copies to all 60 governors. Within half an hour they had an email from the panic-stricken Senior Censor, Professor Geraldine Johnson, ordering them to “immediately delete the email from Mr Aitken”.

 

‘Safeguarding concerns’

Despite being fully vindicated, Martyn Percy is left with legal bills of more than £400,000 – and because there is no internal grievance process available to him, the only resort is to an employment tribunal to recover his costs. But he is still dean. Having failed to oust him using college statutes, Percy’s nemeses have now turned to the Church of England to do the job for them. Early this year they alerted church authorities to “very serious safeguarding concerns” about him. The new allegation is that on four occasions students had told Percy that they had been abused, but he didn’t report this to the local authority.

The former students were all adults, and not otherwise vulnerable. Percy’s pastoral role was to listen and offer counsel. He gave them the option to pursue their case within or beyond the college. In the end they chose not to, and he respected their wish for confidentiality. The students made no complaint about the dean. But the word “safeguarding” sends the Church of England’s leadership into a spin, as his detractors presumably knew. The wily Censors went directly to the National Safeguarding Team rather than the local diocese in Oxford. They also retained the church’s own lawyers, Winkworth Sherwood – and hired its favourite PR firm, Luther Pendragon, to brief selected hacks.

Scores to settle

Yet Percy is not accused of breaching any C of E safeguarding protocols. Nor does he even work for the Church of England: he is employed directly by Christ Church, Oxford. Only a few months ago the National Safeguarding Team declined to take action against Revd Jonathan Fletcher, a proven serial abuser, on the grounds that he didn’t technically work for the C of E, even though he had been a parish priest for 35 years (Eye 1513).

With Percy, however, there were scores to settle. The dean is not much loved in Church House Westminster, having helped to expose its mishandling of the false allegations against Bishop George Bell (an alumnus of Christ Church). Instead of telling the college to sort itself out, the C of E has decided to form one of its notorious Core Groups. The Core Group convened to deal with the Percy problem appears to breach the House of Bishops’ own rules. These say that if a complaint is made against someone who is engaged in a statutory process (such as an employment tribunal), that must be completed before the church has its go. Percy’s employment case will not be heard until the autumn of 2021.

The church has swept aside these obstacles and set up a secretive investigation. The dean himself is not represented on the Core Group, and not allowed to know who is on it or when it meets. But two of the complainants from the college, including Senior Censor Geraldine Johnson, are members. It is hard to see what the group can achieve. It can’t question the students whose safeguarding issues the dean allegedly mishandled, since they did not make any complaints and their identity is not known. It can’t ask the dean, since the students spoke to him in confidence. And it can’t see Sir Andrew Smith’s report exonerating the dean, because the Censors have censored it.

The National Safeguarding Team has now asked Dean Percy to stand down during the inquiry, even though nobody believes he poses a risk to anyone. Professor Johnson has indicated that if Percy is still in post when the governing body next meets, she will put a notice on the college’s website to the effect that Christ Church’s safeguarding protocols are all robust except in respect of the dean – richly ironic, given that one of the Censors’ previous complaints about Percy was that he wanted them to take their safeguarding responsibilities more seriously.

 

COMMENT BY RICHARD W. SYMONDS – THE BELL SOCIETY

This is beyond shocking…”Christ Church At War” – Private Eye

“But the word “safeguarding” sends the Church of England’s leadership into a spin, as his detractors presumably knew. The wily Censors went directly to the National Safeguarding Team rather than the local diocese in Oxford. They also retained the church’s own lawyers, Winkworth Sherwood – and hired its favourite PR firm, Luther Pendragon, to brief selected hacks.

“Yet Percy is not accused of breaching any C of E safeguarding protocols. Nor does he even work for the Church of England: he is employed directly by Christ Church, Oxford. Only a few months ago the National Safeguarding Team declined to take action against Revd Jonathan Fletcher, a proven serial abuser, on the grounds that he didn’t technically work for the C of E, even though he had been a parish priest for 35 years (Eye 1513).

“With Percy, however, there were scores to settle. The dean is not much loved in Church House Westminster, having helped to expose its mishandling of the false allegations against Bishop George Bell (an alumnus of Christ Church).

“Instead of telling the college to sort itself out, the C of E has decided to form one of its notorious Core Groups. The Core Group convened to deal with the Percy problem appears to breach the House of Bishops’ own rules. These say that if a complaint is made against someone who is engaged in a statutory process (such as an employment tribunal), that must be completed before the church has its go. Percy’s employment case will not be heard until the autumn of 2021.

“The church has swept aside these obstacles and set up a secretive investigation. The dean himself is not represented on the Core Group, and not allowed to know who is on it or when it meets. But two of the complainants from the college, including Senior Censor Geraldine Johnson, are members”

The Church ‘Bell’ Core Group was a kangaroo court made up of moral and legal incompetents who casually dispensed with the presumption of innocence for Bishop Bell and wantonly threw him under the bus in a despicable act of character assassination and injustice.

There seems little difference between the ‘Bell’ Core Group and the ‘Percy’ Core Group.

I’m afraid to say the fish stinks from the head down in the Church of England which has become institutionally corrupt.

 

 

FURTHER INFORMATION

 

May 28 2020  – Thinking Anglicans – Christ Church makes safeguarding accusations against Dean

 

The Church of England prong has been reported in Private Eye, and is an altogether more concerning development, for it alleges “very serious safeguarding concerns”, which, as we know, ring alarm bells in the Church louder than bombs over England. But instead of informing Christ Church’s Governing Body that the Church of England’s National Safeguarding Team has no jurisdiction in this matter; and instead of informing them that an NST investigation would be ultra vires and in breach of a number of the House of Bishops’ own guidelines, the church has determined to establish a ‘Core Group’ to examine these alleged “very serious safeguarding concerns” against Martyn Percy.

Just like they did for Bishop George Bell, where the conflicts of interest of certain members of that ‘Core Group’ were manifest; and the notable exclusion of an advocate for the dead Bishop and his descendants was a clear breach of natural justice.

You would think that the National Safeguarding Team, now under the new leadership of Ms Melissa Caslake at Church House, might have learned from their past mistakes. But no: the ‘Core Group’ convened by Ms Caslake reportedly includes at least two members of Christ Church’s Governing Body (who may have slight conflicts of interest); and excludes any advocate for Martyn Percy (which may constitute a slight breach of natural justice). The make-up of the group hasn’t been disclosed the Dean: its membership is secret, except to the two members of the Governing Body.

Quite why the Church of England is prepared to collude in a chronic campaign of bullying against the Dean of Christ Church is a mystery. The mere establishing of this ‘Core Group’, in contravention of its own guidelines, constitutes harassment: the NST can’t create a bespoke investigatory process for Martyn Percy – who isn’t even an employee of the Church – without defaming him further. What exactly are these “very serious safeguarding concerns” which merit a quasi-judicial process which bypasses established guidelines, contravenes basic principles of natural justice, and ignores the law on defamation?

And yet, setting aside the fact that the Dean of Christ Church is not an office-holder of the Church of England; and setting aside the fact that the safeguarding disclosures all concerned adults (not undergraduates); and setting aside the fact that none of them has complained about the Dean or his conduct; and setting aside the fact that there has been no internal investigation at Christ Church which has established “a consistent lack of moral compass”; and setting aside the fact that the Employment Tribunal process needs to have been completed before any investigation may be initiated, the Church of England has indeed convened a ‘Core Group’, which its own guidance says it must do:

Martyn Percy is not accused of any of these behaviours or crimes, but the National Safeguarding Team of the Church of England has now smeared him with the whiff of possibility.

The only evidence of  “a consistent lack of moral compass” in this whole sorry saga is that manifest by the conduct of certain members of the Governing Body of Christ Church, along with the consistent moral failures and poor legal judgment of the National Safeguarding Team of the Church of England. The only compass points which might touch upon Martyn Percy are his being driven mad north-north-west.

Dec 22 2019 – “Church Safeguarding – Not a prayer” – Private Eye

download (31)

Church House Westminster

https://www.thinkinganglicans.org.uk/update-on-safe-spaces-following-media-report/#comments

Update on Safe Spaces following media report

The Church of England issued the press release below today. It appears to be in response to an article in Private Eye which was tweeted here yesterday.

Update on Safe Spaces following media report
21/12/2019

A spokesperson for the National Safeguarding Team said: “Safe Spaces is planned as a vital support service for survivors of church-related abuse across the Church of England and the Catholic Church in England and Wales.

“The delay in progressing the support service, first officially discussed in 2014, is a matter of regret which the Church of England acknowledges and apologises for. But since the appointment of a project manager and the creation of the Safe Spaces Management Board last year eight survivor representatives from across both Churches are involved in ensuring we find the right organisation to deliver the project.

“Their knowledge, skill and personal experience in shaping the model for Safe Spaces alongside their commitment and support for the procurement process is integral to finding the right organisation to deliver the project.

“All grant money from both churches and ATL has been ring fenced for the project and no money from the £592,000 grant has been spent to date, and no new company has been set up. Pre set-up costs, procurement, project management and development are separate to this and the cost is being shared across both Churches.

“Following an initial procurement process, the Board has agreed that it would not be recommending the appointment of a preferred supplier to deliver the project; this decision was taken in partnership with the survivor representatives.

“Over the coming weeks the Board in partnership with survivors will agree the next steps and the best way forward. Survivor voices remain central to any future success of this new service and their welfare and support is an absolute priority for the Church in its continuing safeguarding work.

“Both churches are committed to supporting survivors of church-related abuse and providing an independent national service for survivors of any form of church-related abuse.”

COMMENTS
Janet Fife

‘since the appointment of a project manager and the creation of the Safe Spaces Management Board last year eight survivor representatives from across both Churches are involved in ensuring we find the right organisation to deliver the project.’ I’m glad they are involving survivors in this, although I suspect they aren’t asking some who have been most vocal. I’m sure Matt Ineson would have something to say – and until the Church is ready to hear him, and Gilo, and “Graham’, and others, it won’t get very far. But as the project manager and board were appointed ‘last year’ –… Read more »

Martin Sewell

The Church seems to have lost the plot on this. One cannot hear of the delay and the associated costs without a rising sense of anger. Questions must be asked and more importantly – answered. This is not said in a vindictive sense but simply to seek an answer to the plainest of questions. “ How did the main thing cease to be the main thing?” The need was there, the victims known, the resource was available. It ought to have been possible to scope and deliver something for survivors within a year, by any team of competent managers. If… Read more »

Fr. Dean Henley

Presumably when she was the Chief Nurse the Bishop of London must have overseen projects far bigger than this one. Why has everyone involved been so inept, had no sense of urgency given their rhetoric on safeguarding. Old school politicians such as Lord Carrington resigned when there were serious failings such as this; why haven’t senior bishops resigned over this pitiful episode? Thank God for Private Eye and a free press!

This doesn’t look good. Depressing really. Am I a fool to be surprised at the prevarication, the EIG involvement and the procurement story, especially 2buy2. “They talk of vanity every one with his neighbour: they do but flatter with their lips, and dissemble in their double heart.” Why not let the survivors run the project completely? OK, I know why not.

Feb 20 2019 – ‘The Bishop Bell Question’ – David Lamming – General Synod 2019 – Church House Westminster [Wed Feb 20 – 17.45-19.00]

2000px-Logo_of_the_Church_of_England.svg

General Synod 2019 – Church House Westminster

Wednesday Feb 20 – 17.45-19.00 – Questions – David Lamming

“Has the House of Bishops considered encouraging the Archbishop of Canterbury to revisit the judgement he expressed on 15 December 2017 (on publication of the Carlile Review) that ‘a significant cloud is left over [Bishop Bell’s] name’, particularly in view of the Briden Report dated 17 January 2019 and the recent statement by Lord Carlile that ‘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’?”

GS Misc 1213 – Progress Report by the National Safeguarding Steering Group – The Rt Revd Peter Hancock – Lead Bishop for Safeguarding

40. The decision of the Right Worshipful Timothy Briden (acting in his capacity as
commissary to the Bishop of Chichester) was published by the Bishop of Chichester
and the Archbishops’ Council on 24 January 2019. The decision related to ‘fresh
information’ brought to the attention of the Church following publication of Lord Carlile’s independent review into the Church’s original handling of allegations against the late Bishop George Bell. The terms of reference for the independent investigation and independent ‘decision-making body’ (Timothy Briden) did not involve re-investigating the allegations made by ‘Carol’, for which a civil settlement had already be made.

 

January 7 2018 – “The Seven Resolutions” – ‘Rebuilding Bridges’ Morning Conference – Church House Westminster – February 1 2018

300px-rebuilding-bridges-logo-cutout

Thursday February 1 2018 – Church House Westminster

http://rebuildingbridges.org.uk/

The Seven Resolutions for the ‘Rebuilding Bridges’ Morning Conference at Church House Westminster on Thursday February 1

To call for:
1. Archbishop Justin Welby to apologise for his “significant cloud” comment concerning Bishop Bell. Any effective ‘rebuilding of bridges’ is almost impossible without this Apology.  
2. Bishop of Chichester Martin Warner to invite Barbara Whitley, Bishop Bell’s niece, for a “face-to-face” meeting [she has already requested such a meeting]. The Bishop of Chichester has already met ‘Carol’.
3. Chichester Cathedral’s Dean and Chapter to restore 4 Canon Lane back to George Bell House – and to invite Lord Rowan Williams to re-dedicate the new plaque at George Bell House.
4. Chichester Cathedral’s Chancellor and Canon Librarian, Revd Dr Anthony Cane, to permit the display of Bishop Bell’s Portrait (in storage within the Cathedral Library) at Church House on Feb 1.
5. Chichester Cathedral’s Dean, The Very Reverend Stephen Waine, to correct Page 37 of the Cathedral Guide “Society and Faith”:
6. General Synod to undertake a Full Debate at the earliest opportunity, regarding the serious implications arising from Lord Carlile’s report.
7. Prayer