The Very Revd Professor Martyn Percy – Dean of Christ Church
DEAN OF CHRIST CHURCH CLEARED OF ALL ALLEGATIONS – ‘THINKING ANGLICANS’
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.
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.
Martin Sewell has written at Archbishop Cranmer: Church 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 Guardian: Church clears Oxford college dean after ‘black ops campaign to discredit him’.
Headline later changed to Church clears Oxford college dean over alleged safeguarding failures.
The Times Dean of Christ Church Oxford cleared of safeguarding failures
Cherwell Christ Church dean exonerated after safeguarding allegations Subscribe
Richard W. Symonds 1 day ago
Next stop: full exoneration for Bishop George Bell?
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 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 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 1 day ago
That Christ Church statement reads like it was written by someone chewing on a wasp.
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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 12 hours ago Reply to Richard
“In another unfortunate piece of heritage, the Visitor is the Queen, whom nobody wants to involve.”
Her Majesty is the Supreme Governor of the Church of England!
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 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 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
Paul Roberts 1 day ago Reply to Pete Broadbent
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 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 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 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