Tag Archives: Core Groups

OCTOBER 20 2020 – “GIBBS: INDEPENDENT BODY WILL SUPERVISE CHURCH’S SAFEGUARDING” – CHURCH TIMES – HATTIE WILLIAMS

“Gibbs: independent body will supervise Church’s safeguarding” – Church Times – Hattie Williams

INDEPENDENT trustees will hold the National Safeguarding Team of the C of E to account, the lead bishop of safeguarding, Dr Jonathan Gibbs, has confirmed. In addition, an independent panel will be set up to approve support packages for survivors. “Whatever it costs, the money will be found,” he said.
Dr Gibbs, who is also the Bishop of Huddersfield, was speaking on Monday after the House of Bishops unanimously endorsed a motion to accept the investigation report from the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), and “unreservedly apologise” to victims and survivors for the harm done by the Church. The House also committed itself to “urgently implementing” the Inquiry’s recommendations.
One of these recommendations was to upgrade the post of diocesan safeguarding adviser (DSA) to diocesan safeguarding officer (DSO) in order to allow them to be able to take the lead on safeguarding matters, including reporting serious incidents and commissioning investigations and risk-assessments.
To do this, the House agreed unanimously to establish an independent safeguarding structure, with a new trustee body, to take over responsibility from the Archbishops’ Council. The Bishops also agreed that an interim arrangement be put in place for additional independent oversight of safeguarding before the new trustee body is established.
Dr Gibbs explained after the meeting: “The key thing is that we are all agreed that safeguarding needs to be independent: we can’t have bishops, diocesan secretaries, making decisions about safeguarding for two reasons: because they are not professionally qualified in safeguarding, and because there is an element of structural conflict of interest. They have a diocese to look after and to run, so there is always a potential conflict.”
He reported full support among the Bishops for the independence of diocesan safeguarding advisers. The Bishops were “very happy to explore changing their name and status to diocesan safeguarding officers, but really in order to be affective that needs to be picked up in terms of how we structure the whole question of independence. . . and accountability.”
He clarified that under current guidance, DSAs are already able to report safeguarding issues without seeking permission; “but the reality is that they are employed within the diocese and line-managed by diocesan secretaries and bishops, and we need to cut that.”
It was an issue of balance, Dr Gibbs said. “You need people to have a proper degree of independence; but, on the other hand, they need to be rooted and integrated in the diocese if they are really going to bring about culture change.”
The new trustee body would oversee the National Safeguarding Team and hold it to account, rather than the Archbishops’ Council, as at present. Whether or not the independent trustees would have any relationship to the Church was “still to be worked out”, he said. “It has to be credible, partly that they are not answerable to and being line-managed by the National Church Institutions.”
The Church Times understands that the body would be established, and members appointed by an independent body, such as the Charity Commission.
Dr Gibbs said that both Archbishops were keen to implement this “very soon”. There would be a management board with an independent chair and the equivalent of non-executive directors. “You then have to think who represents the Church on that; some have suggested the lead bishop; but there clearly needs to be a majority of independent members on that board who are holding the NST to account on their safeguarding work.”
The NST has been criticised recently for its handling of safeguarding cases, particularly in relation to core groups, as in the case of the Dean of Christ Church, the Very Revd Professor Martyn Percy (News, 11 September). Dr Gibbs said that a full review and consultation on the core group process was “imminent”.
“The [2017] guidelines were written for someone who had been alleged to have abused someone; the complicated cases we have been dealing with recently are whether this senior church person has properly handled the process: that is a different issue. . . We certainly need to clarify at what stage and how are people represented; what are the procedures for making sure that things are being done properly; what is the process for appealing.” There was “a lot to do”.
Asked about the interim redress scheme for survivors to provide immediate financial and pastoral need, Dr Gibbs said: “We are aware of particular cases where there is urgent financial need and for other kinds of support . . . counselling, therapy, life coaching, debt advice. . . We recognise that we have a lot to learn about how we do this, which is why it is a pilot scheme.”
He described a system designed to repair the damage caused not by the original abuse but by how complaints were handled subsequently. “We are not revisiting at this stage the original claim; that may come later in the [full] redress scheme. What we are looking at is what has happened to [survivors] since they have first disclosed: in particular how has the Church responded to them?
“Sadly, some survivors have found that the whole process of disclosure — and how that has been handled by the Church and its representatives, i.e. insurance companies and lawyers — has left them in a worse place than before they disclosed. That is deeply shocking.”
A “package of support” would be decided upon and offered by an independent panel, which is currently being convened so that decisions about the case are not made by the lead bishops or by members of the NST.
“That would include an independent chair who has worked with survivors, a survivor voice in the panel, and someone with expertise in understanding trauma: a psychologist background.”
There was a fund to get this started, and the Church Commissioners had been approached to work out when and how redress might be costed, Dr Gibbs said. “Even in the interim phase, we need access to serious money to do this job. The needs of survivors will be funded to the extent that they need to be funded; this is about compassion, justice, and, dare I say it, generosity.
“Whatever it costs, the money will be found. That is a matter of honour as far as I am concerned. We have failed people dreadfully in the past.”
A new “more demanding” suite of training had also been developed to change attitudes to safeguarding on the ground. It brought people face-to-face with the kind of clericalism and deference highlighted in recent television documentaries, he said, which were also used in training. Recruitments processes were also being revised.
What was significant at the meeting on Monday, Dr Gibbs said, “was the fact that we had 100-per-cent support from the bishops — to recognise not only the need for cultural change, but their role in helping to drive and lead cultural change.”
Dr Gibbs, who has two more years as lead safeguarding bishop, said that there was “a small window of opportunity” to listen to survivors in order to bring about cultural change and establish training and independence. He did not want to waste it.
“We are starting from a very low base of trust. I am well aware that there is a well of frustration, anger, hurt, about the way that survivors have been treated in the past. I am very grateful for their willingness to work with us at all. I am very conscious that we have a very small window of opportunity to take this forward.”
While his role is primarily strategic, he said, “my contacts with individuals also massively influences my whole perspective.”
The House of Bishops is due to release a full response to the IICSA report in the coming weeks.

AUGUST 29 2020 – ‘CORE BLIMEY’ – PRIVATE EYE ON CORE GROUPS WITHIN THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND – “THE MOST INCOMPETENT AND UNJUST FORM OF INVESTIGATION I HAVE EVER SEEN” – LORD ALEX CARLILE QC

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“Core Blimey” – Private Eye No 1529 – 28 August – 10 September 2020

PRIVATE EYE – CHURCH NEWS – “CORE BLIMEY”

FOLLOWING our report in Eye 1527 that there are currently 27 national “core groups” investigating safeguarding concerns about bishops and deans in the Church of England, the church’s lead bishop on safeguarding, Rt. Revd Jonathan Gibbs, quickly put out a correction.

There are in fact 30 such groups, three more having been created since the last count in mid-July. He added that “about three-quarters of current national cases are about senior clergy failing to act appropriately rather than a direct allegation of abuse.”

This isn’t as reassuring as he seems to think: it implies that seven or eight of the most senior figures in the Church of England are being investigated over allegations of first-order abuse.

Some of these may be retired, but as far as we know only two – former Archbishop George Carey and current Bishop of Lincoln Christopher Lowson – are currently barred from acting as bishops, and their cases don’t involve any “direct allegation of abuse”.

Lord Carlile QC said two weeks ago that the C of E’s core group system is “the most incompetent and unjust form of investigation I have ever seen.”

Carlile led the 2017 review of how the church mishandled claims against the late Bishop George Bell. He concluded that its George Bell core group had been “unmethodical, confused and unstructured”, with the membership and chair changing from meeting to meeting. The whole process was predicated on Bell’s guilt and resulted in “catastrophic damage” to his posthumous reputation. (The mistaken allegation that Bell was a paedophile was reported as fact in the Daily Telegraph by religious-affairs editor John Bingham – who was subsequently punished for his error by being appointed the C of E’s head of media.)

Carlile is among 65 lawyers, clerics and abuse survivors who signed a letter to the Charity Commission this month, asking it to challenge the C of E over “the continuing flow of cases of injustice”. The signatories accuse core groups of acting “in ways reminiscent of the Star Chamber, synonymous with the selective use of arbitrary unaccountable power”.

Last month, for example, a victim of John Smyth QC made a formal complaint against Archbishop Justin Welby for failing to act on information about his old friend’s violently abusive behaviour, and was duly told that an investigation would be held. But he now learns that Welby has already been the subject of a secret investigation into the claim in 2017 – in which the complainant was not even consulted. The new inquiry is nothing more than an internal review of that process – which could be tricky since no-one will say who conducted the investigation or what it discovered.

Ultimately, the judgement on whether Welby should be disciplined rests with the new Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, who has himself been recently investigated by a core group; and the judgement on whether Archbishop Cottrell should be disciplined for his safeguarding failure rests with Archbishop Welby.

What could be fairer than that?

 

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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.”

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

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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.

 

‘THINKING ANGLICANS’ COMMENTS

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.

 

RICHARD SCORER

Some really important points in the Private Eye piece. As a lawyer for victims and survivors in IICSA I have said repeatedly that unless safeguarding complaints are dealt with by an independent body external to the church, the suspicion will always arise that safeguarding is being used as a vehicle to settle theological and political scores. The understandable concern expressed here is that Church House has it in for Martyn Percy because of his campaigning over Bell. Victims and survivors of abuse similarly mistrust church processes and core groups. Nobody, whether abuse complainant or those accused of abuse or safeguarding breaches, will have confidence in investigative processes whilst these remain in-house. They need to be handled by a fully independent body.

 

RICHARD W. SYMONDS

“The understandable concern expressed here is that Church House has it in for Martyn Percy because of his campaigning over Bell”

What is less understandable, but equally of deepest concern, is why Church House still has it in for Bishop George Bell. They had no such problem with Bishop Peter Ball at the time.

 

 

FURTHER INFORMATION

 

May 25 2020 – “Row over Oxford Dean” – Daily Telegraph Letters – Brian Martin and Jimmy James

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Daily Telegraph Letters [May 25 2020] kindly provided by Jimmy James – on request

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.

 

– 1 –
The Rt Hon. The Baroness Stowell of Beeston, MBE
Chair of the Charity Commission
102 Petty France, Westminster
London SW1H 9AJ

By post and email to chair@charitycommission.gov.uk
cc helen.stephenson@charitycommission.gov.uk

As from Mr Andrew Graystone, 17 Rushford Avenue, Manchester M192HG
andrew.graystone1@btinternet.com

Wednesday 27th May 2020

Dear Lady Stowell

You recently received a letter from some individual trustees of Christ Church Oxford
making a series of allegations against their Dean, the Very Revd Professor Martyn Percy.
We wish to express our confidence in Martyn Percy. We know him in our various capacities,
as a man of consistently good character, an exceptional scholar, a respected public servant,
and an outstanding Christian leader.
We do not speculate on the reasons why some members of the Governing Body of Christ
Church wish to go to such extreme lengths to destroy the reputation of their Dean and
to break his spirit. But we do know that :
• The recent letter is the latest episode in a sustained campaign against the Dean
led by senior members of the college Governing Body since his appointment.
• The specific allegations against Martyn Percy have changed over time, but each
allegation has been disproved. In August of last year Dean Percy was wholly
exonerated after an extensive investigation by Sir Andrew Smith, a retired High
Court judge.
– 2 –
• The signatories of the letter are far from objective. Several of them were revealed
by Sir Andrew to have employed devious methods and offensive language in their
efforts to break his resolve, and some will be parties to an Employment Tribunal to
be heard next year.
• The grievances in the letter are a set of untested and gratuitous assertions for
which no evidence is provided.
• The insinuation that Dean Percy personally represents a safeguarding risk
is abhorrent and wholly unjustified.
• The suggestion that he “lacks a moral compass” is so far from the truth as to
be laughable, were it not so insulting.
We believe that Martyn Percy is a victim of gross injustice and malice. We wish to see
this damaging business resolved justly, and with the minimum delay, so that he can
continue to exercise his gifts in leading Christ Church.

Respectfully yours,

Professor Malcolm Airs OBE Emeritus Fellow, Kellogg College Oxford
The Revd Jonathan Aitken Christ Church alumnus
The Venerable Christine Allsopp Archdeacon emeritus
Rt Hon Sir Tony Baldry High Steward of Banbury
Simon Barrow Director, Ekklesia
The Revd Canon Sue Booys Team Rector, Dorchester Team Ministry
Simon Broadbent Chair, The Ainstable Trust
The Revd Canon Andrew Bunch Vicar of St Giles’ and St Margaret’s, Oxford
The Venerable Gavin Collins Archdeacon of the Meon
The Revd Canon Rod Cosh Chaplain, St Monica Trust
Richard Dick Former High Sheriff of Oxfordshire
Canon Barbara Doubtfire Canon Emeritus, Christ Church Oxford
The Rt Revd and Rt Hon The Lord Carey of Clifton Former Archbishop of Canterbury
The Revd Canon Anthony Dickinson
Anglican Chaplain in Genoa,
Canon Emeritus, Christ Church Oxford
The Very Revd Dr Jonathan Draper General Secretary, Modern Church
The Rt Revd Vivienne Faull Bishop of Bristol
– 3 –
The Revd Canon Professor Paul S. Fiddes Professor of Systematic Theology,
University of Oxford and Principal Emeritus,
Regent’s Park College, Oxford
The Rt Hon Frank Field
The Rt Revd Jeremy Greaves, Bishop for the Northern Region,
Diocese of Brisbane
The Revd Canon Christopher Hall Canon Emeritus of Christ Church Oxford
The Revd Canon Rosie Harper
Vicar, Great Missenden
Honorary Canon of Christ Church Oxford
Dr Adrian Hilton, Chairman of the Academic Council,
The Margaret Thatcher Centre
The Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam, Lord Bishop of Salisbury
The Very Revd Dr David Ison, Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral
The Revd Dr T C Keighley Co-ordinator, Martyn Percy Support Fund
David Lamming Member of General Synod
The Revd Ruth Lampard
The Revd Andrew Lightbown Rector of the Winslow Benefice
Lord Lisvane
The Revd Lady Lisvane former High Sheriff of Herefordshire
Deborah Loudon
Professor Gordon Lynch Michael Ramsey Professor of Modern
Theology, University of Kent
The Very Revd Ian S. Markham, Dean and president of Virginia Theological
Seminary
Dr Katie McKeogh, New College Oxford
The Revd Canon Tom Moffatt Canon Emeritus, Christ Church Oxford
The Venerable John Morrison Former Archdeacon of Oxford
Hon Canon Emeritus, Christ Church Oxford
The Very Revd Andrew Nunn Dean of Southwark
The Rev’d Dr Steven Ogden Principal, St Francis Anglican Theological
College, Brisbane
Jayne Ozanne, Director, Ozanne Foundation
Member of General Synod
The Very Revd Nicholas Papadopulos Dean of Salisbury
Rt Revd Professor Stephen Pickard Charles Sturt University, Australia
– 4 –
Canon Nick Ralph Residentiary canon at Portsmouth
Cathedral
Sir Ivor Roberts
Former ambassador and former President
of Trinity College Oxford
Lady Elizabeth Roberts Trinity College Oxford
The Very Revd Michael Sadgrove Dean Emeritus of Durham
Simon Sarmiento Churchwarden, Knaresborough
Richard Scorer Head of Abuse Law, Slater & Gordon
Martin Sewell Member of General Synod
Canon Brian Shenton Canon Emeritus, Christ Church Oxford
The Revd Canon Vincent Strudwick, Canon Emeritus Christ Church Oxford
Honorary Fellow Emeritus, Kellogg College
The Revd Ian Tattum Area Dean, Wandsworth
Dr Anna Thomas-Betts MBE
The Revd Angela Tilby Canon Emeritus Christ Church Oxford
Professor Iain R Torrence Pro-Chancellor, University of Aberdeen
Terry Waite CBE
Professor Pete Ward Professor of Practical Theology, Durham
University
The Rt Revd Dr Alan Wilson Bishop of Buckingham
The Very Revd Christine Wilson Dean of Lincoln
Professor Linda Woodhead MBE Distinguished Professor, University of
Lancaster