Charges dropped as Dean agrees to quit Ripon
Posted: 02 Nov 2006 @ 00:00
ALL CHARGES against the inhibited Dean of Ripon, the Very John Methuen, were
withdrawn in advance of a consistory-court hearing due to have been held in
Leeds on Tuesday. Under an agreement, reached after a reported eight hours of
negotiation, the Dean has agreed to leave Ripon Cathedral and take sabbatical
leave until the end of the year.
The Dean was facing 21 charges of conduct unbecoming the office and work of
a clerk in holy orders, and a further charge of "serious, persistent,
continuous neglect of duty". An independent assessor, Judge Peter Hunt, decided
in September last year that there was a case to answer on all 22 charges, and
the Bishop of Ripon & Leeds, the Rt Revd John Packer, suspended the Dean on
full pay pending the outcome of the consistory court.
The Bishop said at the time of the inhibition: "The Dean is clear that he
has a full answer to the complaints." Dean Methuen declared himself "entirely
innocent of any complaints against me", and vowed that he would defend himself
strenuously against the charges.
There has been conflict at Ripon Cathedral for almost six years, with
complaints about autocratic behaviour, and high-profile resignations that
included the director of music, the chapter clerk, and the bursar (
News, 24 September 2004).
A working party set up in 2001 by the Bishop of Knaresborough to look into
the pastoral situation reported in confidence, and asked people with genuine
complaints to put them in writing to the registrar. There were around 100
submissions, both for and against the Dean.
A statement from the diocese on Tuesday said that all the charges against
the Dean had been withdrawn by the promoter with the agreement of the
consistory court, and that the Dean "had decided
to leave Ripon by the end
of the year".
Bishop Packer and Dean Methuen both issued statements on Tuesday, and by
mutual agreement will not be making any further comment. The Dean said: "
Following the unhappy disputes at the cathedral, I am pleased that the
inhibition has been lifted. I believe that I now need a period of reflection on
my future life and ministry.
"My wife and I have many friends in Ripon, where there has been much
creative work over the past ten years, and where we received a great deal of
support during difficult times. I wish to give my best wishes and prayers to
everyone in the cathedral, the city, and the diocese."
The Bishop said: "I am grateful to John Methuen for the lively and vigorous
ministry he has pursued at the cathedral over the last ten years.
"I also want to say something to all members of the cathedral community and
the diocese. The ministry and mission of the Church have suffered during this
unhappy period. I would ask all concerned to refrain from recriminations, and
set the past behind them, and hold in their prayers the Dean, his wife, and
family, and all those who have been damaged by these events.
pray that good relations will be restored in the cathedral community and across
the city, and look forward to us all working together to promote the gospel."