Tag Archives: National Safeguarding Team [NST]

OCTOBER 5 2020 – IICSA REPORT TO EXPOSE “A VERY ENGLISH FORM OF CORRUPTION“ LYING DEEP WITHIN THE ANGLICAN CHURCH

IICSA REPORT EXPOSES “A VERY ENGLISH FORM OF CORRUPTION“ LYING DEEP WITHIN THE ANGLICAN CHURCH

Looking ahead to IICSA report day on Tuesday

Stephen’s Blog Stephen Parsons

by Gilo

By no means a comprehensive list. Just a brief visit across a number of things we may probably see further comment upon after the Inquiry makes its final Anglican report.

Mandatory Reporting

It’s possible that any expecting to see the much needed recommendation for Mandatory Reporting as part of the statutory framework – will be disappointed. It is long overdue.

The argument is won.

And this presents an ideal moment as the Church has come round to acceptance of MR after a rather circuitous route of yes we do, no we don’t. Many of us suspect the Inquiry want to hold on to this as a ‘big ticket’ recommendation for the final report at the end of 2021. Why wait until then? Current policies across many institutions in regulated activities have been called “bags of bits” by Mandate Now; labyrinthine policy jungles which would become largely redundant with MR. Culture change will happen in a single weekend with its eventual introduction. But I think we have to wait until the Inquiry gets the last train home.

Independence

The Archbishops Council statement was notably vague on this. That the Church is keen to put this theme out just before the final Anglican report suggests that the Inquiry will call serious question to the Church’s fitness for self-governance. There is an overwhelming need for the National Safeguarding Team to be given independent oversight, well away from the control of Archbishops’ Council secretariat. The current NST is almost an entirely new team, but part of the difficulty facing Melissa Caslake and her newbies is picking their way through the considerable wreckage of the previous era which has left many survivors deeply suspicious of the NST.

Many disaster sites might have been avoided, or reached quicker resolution, if the NST hadn’t been shaped by the culture of Church House, its comms and lawyers and managers, and at times, the Church’s own dodgy reputation launderers.

The Christ Church core group debacle would in all likelihood have been avoided. I am told the probable outcome of this independence will be the formation of a new NCI (National Church Institution) – called Safeguarding – with independent members alongside Church appointees in an oversight committee to beef up scrutiny. We will have to wait and see how and when this happens.

Archbishops and Bishops

Many of us expect to see Archbishop Justin Welby and former Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, criticised. Both their hearings were embarrassing. When each had an opportunity to apologise to a survivor sat directly behind them, they failed to do so despite being invited by the Inquiry. Those watching sensed that the Inquiry took a dim view. The wider existential crisis of the bishops – how many senior figures and their dioceses have responded, or failed to respond – is likely to come under heavy fire.

The walls of silence to major questions that so many of us have experienced as a pattern across the bishops is something we hope the Inquiry will highlight.

I know that Bishop Jonathan Gibbs is keen to see more vigorous accountability injected into the structure. At present it is at best variable, at worst: absent.

Some bishops are thrown under the bus. Others get away with run-for-the-hills behaviour and hope the fallout from their denial and distancing will not follow them.

The National Safeguarding Steering Group, the church’s current overarching board of governance, to many of us seems to resemble a shielding for senior figures who should be facing critical questions. It includes bishops who have managed to hide within the structure behind dysfunctional processes and a culture of protection.

Ecclesiastical Insurance

Many of us expect to see the church’s insurer take a substantial hit following the recall to IICSA when Ecclesiastical Insurance tried to pull the wool over a government inquiry.

It’s worth pointing out that Carl Beech is serving 18 years in prison for perverting the course of justice and lying under oath to the police. But Ecclesiastical, a big corporate, have managed so far to get away with apparent dissembling in front of a government inquiry – under oath!

It’s also notable that their lawyer, top QC Rory Phillips, had only one client at the Inquiry and a very small handful of statements to be across. What a mess he made. I don’t think anyone assumes he knew his client was being dishonest. But to be candid, he could have done an hour’s easy homework – and realised he was representing a client who was being considerably less than ‘sufficiently full and frank’ in their testimony. It took the Inquiry less than 45 mins to devastate their testimony on three significant counts. Now, much more is emerging about malevolent psychiatric reports used against survivors, ‘genetic predisposition’ defences, desk-topping, and other strategies deployed by EIG and their lawyer – much of this reflecting dubious ethics.

But I doubt these will be visited in the report as some of these have only recently started to emerge, despite being brought to the attention of senior church figures over the years. But I would expect to see the Church criticised for its duplicity in some aspects of its relationship to the insurer.

It has sought to protect a corrupted nexus, from whom it derives substantial income through the owner of the insurer, AllChurches Trust. It has been, as one cleric put it, “a very English form of corruption”.

Interim Support Scheme

This is not part of the Inquiry. But it’s definitely worth comment – as the Church announced this flagship scheme last week perhaps as an attempt to plea-bargain with the Inquiry, and certainly to address widespread concern at the lack of compassion towards survivors. My understanding is that this scheme will help up to ten people initially (to help create the structure) and then quickly scale up. Quickly being the operative word.

If it fails to do this, or rows back on its promises, and becomes another smoke and mirror delaying tactic – then it will raise much more ire.

The proof will be in the extent to which it is prepared to rescue economies of those left in wreckage as result of reporting and re-abuse. And not just the initial ten or so. But fifty, then a hundred, and so on. This is not the redress scheme and should not be confused with it. It is the interim support prior to redress. My understanding is that there is no figure attached to this scheme – instead the lead bishops have argued for an open credit line – which I think is the right approach. The final redress scheme will cost a great deal more. The figure that has been talked about in the longer term has been £200million. But many of us think this will not be sufficient.

What happens after?

Will the Church go back to sleep after the Inquiry? My sense is that the current lead bishops are keen to use this opportunity to bring about as much culture change as they can and I think they recognise that this is required across the top of their Church.

My own view is that a Truth & Reconciliation initiative may be needed, in which bishops end the long procession of crafted apology statements, and apologise for real. But that has to go hand in hand with real justice and genuine repair of lives.

About Stephen Parsons

Stephen is a retired Anglican priest living at present in Cumbria. He has taken a special interest in the issues around health and healing in the Church but also when the Church is a place of harm and abuse. He has published books on both these issues and is at present particularly interested in understanding the psychological aspects of leadership and follower-ship in the Church. He is always interested in making contact with others who are concerned with these issues. View all posts by Stephen Parsons →

← Is the Church of England ready for new moves in Safeguarding?

2 thoughts on “Looking ahead to IICSA report day on Tuesday”

  1. Gilo BBC Radio Sunday. 25mins in. https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m000n4vyReply
  2. Jane Chevous Thank you Gilo, your predictions sound spot on and give us some hope that things will change. I know that you and others are working behind the scenes to do this and am very grateful for all you do.
    I do hope the report calls for independent scrutiny & that this results in a total reform of the core group process, because this is where the real canker is. It’s unfit for purpose and often reabusive. And as you say, fails to hold abusers and especially bishops who do nothing, to account. Nothing is happening to either of the bishops who failed (refused) to respond to my report of clergy rape.
    A redress scheme doesn’t bring justice. I hope the idea of a restorative justice process, including a Truth & Reconciliation commission, does gain traction. Counselling and compensation alone do not bring justice, or repair the rupture of abuse

SEPTEMBER 25 2020 – MARTYN PERCY AND CHRIST CHURCH – CHURCH TIMES LETTER [MARTIN SEWELL AND DAVID LAMMING]

Martyn Percy Dean of Christ Church Oxford

CHURCH TIMES LETTERS – SEPTEMBER 25 2020

From Messrs David Lamming and Martin Sewell

Sir, — The further attempt by malcontents on the Governing Body at Christ Church, Oxford, to oust the Very Revd Professor Martyn Percy from his position as Dean of the college has spectacularly failed, as an investigation by the Church of England’s National Safeguarding Team (NST) found that he acted “entirely appropriately” in respect of four instances when he received confidential information from former students of the college, all competent adults (News, 11 September).

The statement by the lead bishop on safeguarding, Dr Jonathan Gibbs, does not just report a finding that Dr Percy is “not guilty” of the baseless allegations: it is a positive affirmation that the Dean acted wholly properly.

Accordingly, the college’s announcement on its website, stating that it “will be reviewing the NST’s findings with regard to Christ Church’s safeguarding responsibilities”, is graceless: it ought to celebrate the reassurance that the Dean understands safeguarding practice better than his accusers, who should now consider their own positions on the Governing Body.

But there is also a lesson for the Church. We are the “two supporters” of the Dean who wrote to General Synod members in June stating that the NST was being “used” by the malcontents (effectively as a cat’s paw) to further their vendetta against the Dean, having lost a costly 11-day tribunal hearing in 2019 chaired by a retired High Court judge (News, 19 June).

As we pointed out, “No person, survivor of abuse, or vulnerable adult has made any complaint, ever, against Dean Percy.” The NST announcement on 8 September vindicates our assessment.

While the outcome for the Dean is indeed welcome, there must now be an investigation into the way in which the Church came to be so embroiled. As the Bishop of Willesden, the Rt Revd Pete Broadbent, has commented (on the Thinking Anglicans blog), “a full interrogation of how the NST became the patsy of the CC Oxford dons/plotters and into the procedures the NST employ must now take place.”

On 14 August, you reported the letter sent to the Charity Commission by many survivors, lawyers, academics, and Synod members, urging the Commission to intervene in the light of the Archbishops’ Council’s failure to call to account those with operational responsibility for the Church’s safeguarding practice. That letter was acknowledged on 11 September, a senior specialist case manager noting the “serious concerns” that the letter raises.

The Archbishops’ Council should now state how it intends to respond.

DAVID LAMMING
Boxford

MARTIN SEWELL
Gravesend


(General Synod members)

AUGUST 18 2020 – “THE NEW SAFEGUARDING BISHOP DEFENDS THE OLD MORALLY AND LEGALLY INDEFENSIBLE BANKRUPT SYSTEM OF ‘CORE GROUPS’ – LIKE A GOOD ECCLESIASTICAL PUPPET-ON-A-STRING”

“THE NEW SAFEGUARDING BISHOP DEFENDS THE OLD MORALLY AND LEGALLY INDEFENSIBLE BANKRUPT SYSTEM OF ‘CORE GROUPS’ – LIKE A GOOD ECCLESIASTICAL PUPPET-ON-A-STRING” – RICHARD W. SYMONDS – BELL SOCIETY

 

Lead Safeguarding Bishop to critics: “You don’t understand” – ‘Cranmer’

 

Safeguarding bishop sides with critics of the Church of England’s policy

17 AUGUST 2020

GEOFF CRAWFORD/CHURCH TIMES

The Bishop of Huddersfield, Dr Jonathan Gibbs, addresses the General Synod in February where he said that “serious money” was needed to fund redress for survivors of clerical abuse

THE lead bishop on safeguarding, Dr Jonathan Gibbs, has agreed that the C of E’s system needs “root-and-branch change” in order to improve its response to survivors.

Last week, survivors, lawyers, academics, and members of the clergy and General Synod wrote to the chair of the Charity Commission, Baroness Stowell, urging her to intervene to address “the failures of the Archbishops’ Council of the Church of England to devise a safe, consistent and fair system of redress” for victims and survivors of abuse (News, 14 August).

In his formal response last week, Dr Gibbs, who is the Bishop of Huddersfield and part of the National Safeguarding Team (NST) and Steering Group (NSST), deflected criticism of the NST and its core-groups system, adding that the NST should be trusted and respected.

He later told BBC Radio 4’s Sunday, however: “In one sense, I welcome this letter, because it adds weight to my desire to bring about the kind of root-and-branch change that we all long for: in particular in the way in which we respond to survivors, the way in which we deal with complaints, the way in which we change the culture of the Church.”

The letter to the Charity Commission, which also criticises the “impaired transparency and intermittent accountability” of the NST, calls for a complete reform of safeguarding practice and policy within the C of E. It urges the Church not to wait for the final report of the Anglican investigation by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), which is due to be published this autumn (News, 1 May), before acting.

Dr Gibbs told the programme: “There is no doubt that, in the past, our systems have failed considerably, and that was made very clear during IICSA. That made very painful listening for all of us involved in the Church and our hearts go out to and our principle focus must be on survivors, and improving the way in which we respond to survivors. . .

“There is still a long way to go. There is journey; but it is a journey to which we are absolutely committed. . . The direction of travel is going to be substantially influenced by the IICSA report when it comes out very shortly. We made clear our commitment to that journey of change especially in the debate at the General Synod back in February” (News, 14 February).

Dr Gibbs also remarked on the research, published in the Church Times last week, by Dr Josephine Anne Stein, who estimated that the Church spends between £20 and £25 million on safeguarding, but that just £55,000 of this went to survivors in the form of redress (News, 14 August).

“I welcome that piece of research; it is a great piece of work. . . The Church’s expenditure on safeguarding work has expanded very substantially in recent years and that is really important because that is part of making sure that we do begin to respond much better to all of these safeguarding concerns.”

He agreed that the money was not directly benefiting survivors, but “that is the commitment we made in February.” A staff member was being appointed “very soon” to begin advancing redress, he said.

“Even in advance of that work, I have written to the Archbishops and the heads of the Church Commissioners to say I want to set up an interim scheme that enables us to respond much sooner than the time it will take to put the full scheme in place. So, absolutely, not nearly enough has been done here on redress, and redress is not just about compensation, it is about helping people rebuild their lives, and that is underway. So, I welcome that; as far as I am concerned it is weight to help push forward.”

Dr Gibbs maintained, however, that he did not support all of the letter’s criticisms. “I recognise what lies behind the letter: its deep frustration with the Church’s failures, in particular to address the needs of survivors. [But] no, I don’t agree with the specifics of the criticisms there, and implications about a lack of integrity on the part of some of my colleagues. I think those are simply unfortunate.”

One of the signatories of the letter, Lord Carlile, who wrote the independent review into allegations against a former Bishop of Chichester, the late George Bell (News, 22 December 2017), said earlier in the programme: “The Church has a very haphazard way of approaching safeguarding cases. There are numerous conflicts of interest that arise; it doesn’t fit into any recognisable jurisdictional structure; neither complainants, nor people complained against are getting a fair hearing. Additionally, the process is far too slow.”

Dr Gibbs said: “Making change in a big institution always takes time; there is always a certain amount of institutional resistance that is just part of being part of large organisation. There is always a danger of thinking someone else is dealing with this issue.” He reported that the Archbishop of Canterbury shared his frustration with the present system.

MORE INFORMATION

“Pressure on Bishop of Huddersfield over lack of action on Church sex abuse” – Yorkshire Live

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

IMG_6370

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.”

JUNE 20 2020 – VENDETTA AGAINST THE DEAN OF CHRIST CHURCH MARTYN PERCY SPARKS LETTER TO THE GENERAL SYNOD

VENDETTA AGAINST THE DEAN OF CHRIST CHURCH MARTYN PERCY SPARKS LETTER TO THE GENERAL SYNOD

 

“This letter is currently being circulated to members of General Synod of the Church of England, in advance of their virtual meeting in July. There will be two Q&A sessions, and it is hoped that this summary of the situation will encourage Synod members to look carefully into the way the Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, is being appallingly treated – not only by the Governing Body of the College, but also now by the National Safeguarding Team of the Church of England.

“The authors, lawyers Martin Sewell and David Lamming, have worked tirelessly on the chronic mishandling of the Bishop George Bell case, and it is profoundly disappointing to see many of the problems identified by the Carlile Report seemingly replicated in the case now being considered against Prof Martyn Percy”

‘Archbishop Cranmer’

Dear General Synod colleague,

Christ Church, Oxford and the NST

Private Eye recently carried a piece on the reporting of the Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, Martyn Percy to our National Safeguarding Team for alleged safeguarding deficiencies. No child, young person or vulnerable adult has made any allegation of misconduct and the report comes from Christ Church malcontents whose complaints (not about safeguarding) have already been dismissed by the retired High Court Judge, Sir Andrew Smith, employed by the College pursuant to the College’s governing statutes to comprehensively investigate.

The Church is being dragged into a vendetta not of our making and, surprisingly, our officials and advisors seem to have allowed this to happen. This abuse of our processes by well-connected persons raises an important matter of principle. We doubt many internal parish bun fights would be so well received at national level. The issue flags up our institutional deference towards those of privilege.

It is not a currently a transparent process: the only transparency is the motivation. If Dean Percy is criticised by the Church or the Charity Commission it will be pleaded in the defence to the Dean’s Employment Tribunal claim against the Governing Body to defeat or mitigate the damages for the dons’ failed coup. We are being used. This is a route to an objective that can now only be secured by pretending the Dean is unsafe.

It has all the hallmarks of bullying, plain and simple. The Dean, uniquely at Christ Church, has no grievance procedure under the Statutes. This means that he can be attacked with impunity by malcontents and has no defence other than an Employment Tribunal. The Charity Commissioners are now involved. Yet the NST have decided to side with the malcontents at Christ Church, without so much as interviewing the Dean, or even doing a simple fact-check. The strain, and the financial and emotional burden, must be dreadful; but the Dean is resisting injustice, and the abuse survivors who are aware of the circumstances unanimously support him.

Christ Church has no procedure for removing the Dean, either by the dons or the Church, other than by a complex statutory process (and which applies to all dons). Seven dons tried to remove the Dean in 2018-19, and this failed completely with all 27 charges against him dismissed following a costly 11-day hearing. We ought not to allow the dons now to try to use safeguarding as their short cut, and with the complicity of the NST and its processes abused for ancillary purposes. We defer to nobody in our concern for proper safeguarding practice. But this case has nothing to do with safeguarding. The allegations of “safeguarding concerns” now being made to the NST never featured in the complaint of 2018-19. No person, survivor of abuse, or vulnerable adult has made any complaint, ever, against Dean Percy.

Dean Percy is trusted by survivors and was invited to be a contributor to the seminal book Letters to a Broken Church, published in July 2019. When two lone survivors protested the enthronement of the Bishop of Oxford on 30 September 2016 for safeguarding concerns, the entire Church hierarchy ignored them save for Dean Percy, who ensured they had access to a College toilet and brought them coffee and sandwiches.

The NST declined to investigate Jonathan Fletcher as he was not employed by the Church of England but was, rather, vicar of a proprietary chapel. William Nye, in his evidence to IICSA (witness statement 22 December 2017, paras 87-90) states that clergy in institutions such as Christ Church must have “due regard” to C of E standards in safeguarding, but that discipline remains with the independent institution (in the case of Christ Church, as a formal process in accordance with its Statutes). The C of E does not have jurisdiction. However, the NST has decided, with specious reasoning, that jurisdiction nevertheless applies in order to investigate Dean Percy, despite this being an entirely parochial Christ Church matter.

As this is going to be a growing controversy with more information emerging, we are undertaking a detailed analysis which we will share with you in the near future, should it become necessary. We draw on our experience of the George Bell controversy. This case is arguably even worse: lessons have been ignored despite the expensive Carlile Review.

Below are links comprehensively addressing the issues. We hope you will take the trouble to acquaint yourself with the story and find the links helpful in understanding the controversy. There are to be two Q&A sessions at the informal ‘virtual’ General Synod on Saturday 11 July. As you learn of the problems, you may have questions relating to the issues.

Members of clergy might usefully apply the following test: would I have confidence in the NST to handle a case against me in the light of this?

With best wishes,

Martin Sewell
David Lamming

 

Annexures:

JUNE 16 2020 – THE CHARACTER ASSASSINATIONS OF DEAN MARTYN PERCY OF CHRIST CHURCH AND BISHOP GEORGE BELL OF CHICHESTER

character assassination button

THE CHARACTER ASSASSINATIONS OF DEAN MARTYN PERCY OF CHRIST CHURCH AND BISHOP GEORGE BELL OF CHICHESTER

 

The Martyn Percy affair – further comments

What can I say by way of comment over this conflict?  It is quite clear that Martyn has in the past upset the equilibrium and status quo in two powerful institutions.  In the first case, at Christ Church Oxford, a group of senior members have complained about him in his role of Head of House or Dean on two separate occasions.  We, as outsiders observers, have no detailed understanding of the first allegations made against him.   All we do know with some certainty is that a Tribunal was convened under the chairmanship of a retired judge, Sir Andrew Smith.  This found him innocent of the accusations made against him – all twenty-seven charges were dismissed.  Our sympathy for Martyn’s cause is aroused by the fact that he had to endure two years of pressure and stress.  We feel for anyone who, in the course of allegations against them, is suspended from his work and made the object of a campaign of vilification and slander.  Moreover, who was denied the opportunity of even having a preliminary investigation before the Tribunal against him was convened. 

This Tribunal involved the spending of huge resources of charitable money, thought to be over £2 million. Martyn’s own legal costs have been huge.  When the Tribunal verdict was announced, we hoped that the problem would go away.  We might also have hoped that the original accusers might express a little remorse for having spent so much charitable money to further their cause.  But no, the current situation is that the same accusers among the governing body have re-emerged to continue the campaign against the Dean.  This time they are using a quite different set of accusations and a different method of harassing and undermining Martyn.  Having exhausted the procedures afforded to them by the college statutes, the complainants have moved on to attack him using the tools of the quasi-legal structures of the Church of England.

Those of us who support Martyn and his principled stand over a variety of topics in current church debates, are aware that he has made enemies.  As an avowed progressive, he is not easily going to fit in with the prevailing opinions of a largely conservative bench of bishops.  The one particular issue over the past five years that has rattled many cages is the George Bell affair.  Martyn has prominently identified himself with those who regard the posthumous trashing of Bishop Bell’s reputation as contrary to the laws of justice and historical truth.  Many of us, with Martyn, regarded the alacrity with which Church leaders assigned guilt to Bell as being an attempt to show a decisiveness while many other more recent safeguarding allegations were being mishandled.  

The method of assessing and evaluating the Bell evidence was the infamous core group, the same tool that is now being deployed against Martyn himself.  It would not be hard to suggest, to use Gilo’s expression, that, in both case, the core group has been ‘weaponised’ against the subject of the investigation.  This is especially true when the person at the heart of the enquiry has no representation to speak on their behalf.  Again, in both Bell’s case and Martyn’s, similar church establishment mechanisms can be seen at work.  The NST have put Martyn “on trial” without conducting even the most minimal inquiry or interview with him.  The core group contained people who were prosecuting him for their own ends, and were heavily invested in pre-judging the outcome of any investigation.  This is identical to what the Dean had to endure at Christ Church from 2018.

As with Christ Church, so with the NST.  The Dean is forced to pay for his own defence to protect his reputation and integrity.  It was noticeable that the Anglican hierarchy were largely mute when the original Christ Church accusations were aired.  There was a sense that, while support was being expressed by hundreds of individuals across the country and £100,000 raised for legal costs, official support from the Anglican hierarchy was largely absent.

The appeal to the Church of England and its National Safeguarding Team by complaining Christ Church dons to examine accusations against the Dean of Christ Church, has already been explored in Gilo’s piece.  The mention by Gilo of the ‘right part’ of the NST hints at private conversations and plotting at the highest levels of the Church of England taking place with the complainants at Christ Church.  I understand that as far as the lawyers acting for Martyn are concerned, the NST has absolutely no jurisdiction in Martyn’s case.  Martyn is not an employee of the Church of England; he is not being accused of being a danger to children or vulnerable adults.  We also note the “vulnerable adult” terminology used by the NST.  The correct term is “adults-at-risk”, which is defined and deployed in higher education, local government and the NHS.  The NST are out of touch.  The safeguarding issues that are the focus of the enquiry had already been dealt with properly by Martyn, according to University and college protocols. 

Once again, a core group is being used to achieve a particular end.   What we see in the process seems to run counter to natural justice and fairness.  It also seems to take no notice of Lord Carlile’s remarks and the recommendations that were made by him in 2017.  We refer particularly to those that laid out how all interested parties should be represented. These were accepted in total by the Church of England and now they are ignored in what has become a notorious case, ensuring that the whole world is watching (and judging!) the Church of England as it stumbles ahead with a faulty grasp of proper procedures in this complex case.

If Martyn can stand up to the pressure currently being put on him, it could help expose the evident power abuses and appalling misuses of procedure which seem to be operating in the NST.  If the NST were to see sense and pull out of its involvement in the Christ Church debacle, this would have a desirable outcome.  it would allow the NST to be regarded as a properly accountable organisation. No longer would the considerable power of this body be used against individuals without clear and consistent protocols in the way that it operates.  Someone made the decision to allow the NST to enter the treacherous waters of internal Oxford collegiate politics. 

Who was it and what are the systems in place to query and even put a block on such a risky, even impetuous, decision? If, as is likely, the NST comes out of this disastrous intervention with egg on its face, who is going to take responsibility for this financial and ethical car-crash? In many ways this whole episode goes far beyond what Martyn may or may not have done to upset members of his college.  The issue has become one of the church using its legal structures in ways that deny compassion, natural justice and the basic qualities of care.  Once again the Church of England seems incapable of handling its power without hurting and damaging people.  Legalism, the power of money and privilege seem to be prominent.    If the general public sees some of this behaviour and is unimpressed, can we really blame them? 

Another question that is being asked by many of us is this.  If Martyn Percy deserved investigation over safeguarding issues with apparently such flimsy evidence being offered, then why not are other more pressing cases given attention?  There are several outstanding CDM claims against serving bishops which lie on file.  Presumably these can now be activated by victims and complainants? There is the case of Jonathan Fletcher which seems to be ignored by central church authorities, even though it reached front-page headlines of the Daily Telegraph.  If the allegations against Fletcher are even half-true, he still poses a safeguarding threat which should be a priority for the NST.  To focus on Martyn, who poses no such threat, and ignore Fletcher can only be described as a deeply political choice. 

Unless someone explains the real basis for NST involvement in the Christ Church factional disputes, Martyn’s supporters will conclude that the NST has become a political tool at the service of certain unaccountable factions within the Church of England.  If that surmise is correct, one would hope that the General Synod would wake up to this fact and vote the NST out of existence.  We cannot afford to have a rogue structure within the Church which operates with so much secrecy, factionalism and sometimes overt bullying.  Whoever authorised the unleashing of the NST on Martyn Percy has been responsible for taking an enormous gamble with the Church’s assets and reputation.  They have gambled on an outcome which, even if successful at one level, does no credit to the Church.  If the anonymous power brokers are, however, unsuccessful in what they are doing in Oxford, this may have the effect of destroying the NST structure altogether and their future ability to exercise power through it.

6 thoughts on “The Martyn Percy affair – further comments”

  1. Martyn Percy’s intervention re. the appointment of Philip North as Bishop of Sheffield, in the same year his views on the Bishop Bell case were expressed, was another example of his getting up the noses of the powers that be.

    His blog https://theore0.wordpress.com/2017/03/06/abstaining-a-lenten-reflection-on-sheffield-by-martyn-percy/ was widely influential and many saw it as the turning point in the North/Sheffield affair. I have a feeling his card was marked then.

    Though, to be honest, I think almost anyone with real principles in the C of E gets their card marked pretty promptly.

     

  2. I know both men. And consider both to be people in the hierarchy of the Church who speak with integrity in relation to the abuse crisis. And I know that church-context abuse survivors have strong support from each. Martyn was approached by us to write a chapter in Letters to a Broken Church – and wrote an excellent chapter following the Chichester hearings at the Inquiry.

    Philip would have been one of very few bishops we could have approached for a chapter. His interview on BBC Radio 4 Sunday programme was unlike anything we’d heard from any other bishop (with the exception of Alan Wilson). A remarkable interview and one that all Synod members should listen to if they haven’t already. Sadly, our book was already by that stage at print process – so we couldn’t include Philip.

    https://www.thinkinganglica

    Their political or tribal differences aside – both Martyn Percy and Philip North have given their voices courageously as allies to the plight of survivors. I salute them both.

  3. “I understand that as far as the lawyers acting for Martyn are concerned, the NST has absolutely no jurisdiction in Martyn’s case. Martyn is not an employee of the Church of England;”

    I am not an employment lawyer and do not wish to dip into the vexed question of whether office holders are employees, but I am concerned that this line of argument being advanced by Dr Percy’s lawyers will probably consume more costs than most of the other issues in contention.

    The dean of Christ Church is, unusually, paid by Christ Church rather than the Commissioners. Although I don’t have copies of Doe, Hill, Cripps, etc., to hand, he is an ecclesiastical office holder and there are a plethora of statutes and measures which make specific reference to Christ Church as an ecclesiastical corporation, even if there are usually specific provisions in each measure to differentiate Christ Church from other capitular bodies.

    What I suspect has happened is that the students have tried to refer the Woodward case to the NST as a lever to eject Percy. They are gaming the system, and as Stephen notes it is opportunistic and unedifying. The students are probably past caring about that, however, and have reasoned that the ends justify the means.

    Since there is no clear distinction between the position of dean as head of the cathedral and as head of the college they probably approached the NST telling the latter that they have to do something. The NST, no doubt panicked, will have referred the question to the Legal Office. The Legal Office (currently led by a clergyman who was at Christ Church) will probably have advised the NST that they do have standing insofar as Percy is an ’employee’ or ‘office-holder’ qua his position as head of the cathedral, and the want of any distinction between the two aspects of his office means that his safeguarding responsibilities might therefore apply to the entirety of his office.

    Curiously, it is not so long ago that the then second commissioner disclaimed any involvement of the Church of England in the resolution of the dispute:

    https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2018-11-29/debates/6DA9CB26-1373-470D-AAD3-CE9BEDE88743/DeanOfChristChurchOxford

    This question will no doubt consume a great deal of the ET’s time. I strongly suspect that it will result in the office being split in twain, which is probably what a majority of the students now want. Legislation severing the provostship of Oriel from a stall at Rochester was passed in 1875; similar legislation was passed severing the mastership of Pembroke (Oxford) from a stall at Gloucester in 1937, and the mastership of St Catharine’s (Cambridge) from a stall at Norwich in 1927. Many other headships at both universities had been tied to college livings and the headships of all the old colleges bar Merton, Downing and Trinity Hall (plus Keble, St Peter’s and Selwyn) had been reserved to clerics. Splitting the deanery would be the last act in that process.

    1. Sorry, I should have added that the head of the Legal Office was also chancellor of the Oxford diocese until last year (when he became head of the Legal Office), although he is based in London and assists at Holy Redeemer Clerkenwell.

      1. Froghole

        And, of course, it is perfectly possible that the head of the Legal Office had nothing to do with the decision that the NST assume responsibility for this matter, or indeed that the NST sought advice from the Legal Office at all. My statements above were mere conjecture.

         

        MORE INFORMATION

        Thinking Anglicans

JUNE 5 2020 – AN OPEN LETTER TO THE BISHOP OF LINCOLN – FROM A CLERGYMAN OF THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND

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AN OPEN LETTER TO THE BISHOP OF LINCOLN

My Lord,

Following a year’s suspension you have learnt that you will face proceedings under the Clergy Disciplinary Measure, the tool favoured in past months to threaten clergy if they dared enter their churches. It is reported that proceedings were instituted by Melissa Caslake, the National Head of Safeguarding. Except of course as you know this is not true. The Archbishop of Canterbury has instituted proceedings against you, just as he suspended you. He will be the one who, if a case is found, will “administer discipline”. He is the Archbishop you made your oath of obedience to as a bishop within his province.

As the Measure states:

a person on whom functions in connection with the discipline of persons in Holy Orders are conferred by this Measure shall, in exercising those functions, have due regard to the role in that connection of the bishop or archbishop who, by virtue of his office and consecration, is required to administer discipline”.

You may feel that Melissa Caslake has acted with the highest probity yet only a few days’ ago it was reported that a core group of the National Safeguarding Team has been set up to look into the Dean of Christ Church Oxford, oddly someone whom the Archbishop of Canterbury is at odds. This is against the House of Bishops’ own guidelines.

It must be a difficult job to judge whether someone “failed to respond appropriately to safeguarding disclosures”. Any response could be judged as inadequate, but how can we judge best intentions or doing the best as one sees fit at a particular time? How can one be judged fairly? How can anyone judge what an “appropriate” response is? It is hard for a judge to make a window into a man’s soul.

You may feel that you have been treated fairly by the Church of England in making you wait a year to be given the news you have but if you look at Article 6 of the Human Rights Act it says any public hearing (as yours shall be) must be fair. Furthermore it is only fair if:

  • is held within a reasonable time

  • is heard by an independent and impartial decision-maker

  • gives you all the relevant information

  • is open to the public (although the press and public can be excluded for highly sensitive cases)

  • allows you representation and an interpreter where appropriate, and

  • is followed by a public decision.

You also have the right to an explanation of how the court or decision-making authority reached its decision.

No wonder you are bewildered.

Criticisms of bishops for making the decisions they did in the past fail to afford them the rights you have. What they might have thought appropriate would have stood up in the past. But is it something from the past that might prevent you having a fair hearing? The desire perhaps for a living bishop to be paraded about by Justin Welby as an example, given his failures to pin anything on Bishop Bell?

If after disclosures about the National Safeguarding Team being prepared to seek to go for a Dean, are you satisfied your own hearing will be fair? Have you confidence that the Team is independent of bishops? Are you satisfied that the process of clergy discipline is fair? The Archbishop is both judge and jury, and we might also add the CPS. What other organisation would be permitted to act in this way. Will such a process treat you fairly?

Surely you would be a support of clergy everywhere if you challenged the CDM and indeed the role of the National Safeguarding Team on Human Rights grounds. You would become a hero to many if you brought the lot crashing down. Expose the rotten culture of a church in captivity to the vindictiveness of those for whom power has been perverted.

The bishops of the Church of England signed up to “Promoting a Safer Church”, its safeguarding policy, and it says:

The Church of England is called to share the good news of God’s salvation through Jesus Christ. The life of our communities and institutions is integral to how we address this task. The good news speaks of welcome for all, with a particular regard for those who are most vulnerable, into a community where the value and dignity of every human being is affirmed and those in positions of responsibility and authority are truly trustworthy. Being faithful to our call to share the gospel therefore compels us to take with the utmost seriousness the challenge of preventing abuse from happening and responding well where it has’.

In March when the Bishops, you excluded, ordered the churches to be closed what happened to “promoting a safer church”? What happened to the vulnerable when bishops ordered clergy to ignore protections in law for the vulnerable set out in the Coronavirus Act 2020:

(5) A person who is responsible for a place of worship must ensure that, during the emergency period, the place of worship is closed, except for uses permitted in paragraph (6).

(6) A place of worship may be used—

(c)to provide essential voluntary services or urgent public support services (including the provision of food banks or other support for the homeless or vulnerable people, blood donation sessions or support in an emergency).

It meant nothing. Do you think they responded appropriately to the opportunities afforded to churches to serve most in need? Is it not surely they, not you, who should be facing a CDM if not a charge of misconduct in public office?

My Lord, rather than be bewildered, be brave and you may well be the saviour of the Church of England.

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

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

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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.

Matthew Ineson and the “Review of Trevor Devamanikkam case” – ‘Thinking Anglicans’

Review of Trevor Devamanikkam case

COMMENTS
Matthew Ineson
I was called yesterday afternoon by the NST and the Statement read to me. I disagreed with it and pointed out the untruths in it. I was told my points would be raised with Melissa Caslake. This was not done and the statement was published virtually straight away.

I have NEVER said I will give aural or documentary evidence to the church’s proposed ‘reviewer’, in fact I have categorically said I will not (as the ‘review’ is currently proposed). The reviewer will not get sight of all documents cos she wont get mine until a genuine independent review is agreed. The statement is misleading and contains untruths.
My position remains the same as it always has. This review is a review into how the church handled my disclosures both before and during the police investigation plus events after Devamanikkam’s death. It is wrong, therefore, that the church appoint the person who is going to investigate their actions, write a terms of reference into the investigation (no terms of reference have yet been drawn up anyway) and control the whole investigation into themselves. We have repeatedly asked the church to work with us to have a totally independent review, which they have refused.
The church have appointed their proposed ‘reviewer’ on their own terms and I was told only yesterday by Melissa Caslake that no one from the church has contacted Mr Devamanikkam’s family or representatives to ask if they would like to be involved.
The church are steamrollering ahead, trying to control an investigation into themselves. This is open to corruption.
I would work 100% with a genuinely independent review. This is not it and while the church still try to ride roughshod over victims of abuse like myself (as they have with the publication of this statement) I will not be cooperating and have never agreed to.
Why is the church afraid of a truly independent review?
If, for example, a policeman was facing an investigation into his conduct he would not be the one interviewing and appointing the investigator nor would he be writing the terms of reference. So why should the church in this case?
And what does the proposed ‘reviewer’ actually think she is going to be doing as no terms of reference have yet been drawn up? Who would agree to such a job without knowing what they will be doing?
This is a sham. It is open to corruption. It is bullying again.