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Gladwin to lead abuse inquiry

22 March 2013

SHUTTERSTOCK

INQUIRIES into safeguarding in Jersey will be led by a former Bishop of Chelmsford, the Rt Revd John Gladwin, the Bishop of Winchester, the Rt Revd Tim Dakin, announced on Monday. Bishop Dakin is the head of the archiepiscopal visitation of the diocese of Chichester.

The inquiry has been triggered by an independent report into a safeguarding complaint which was published last week (News, 15 March). Bishop Gladwin will be joined by the Archdeacon of Berkshire, the Ven. Norman Russell, and a member of the judiciary.

Bishop Dakin met some clergy and the authorities in Jersey on Saturday to discuss the independent report. He withdrew the commission of the Dean of Jersey, the Very Revd Robert Key, two weeks ago, effectively suspending him. The report is critical of the Dean's handling of the complaint, made by a vulnerable woman in 2008.

In a letter to all the clergy in Jersey, on Tuesday, the Acting Dean of Jersey, Canon Geoff Houghton, described the inquiry led by Bishop Gladwin as "a welcome next step". He was critical of "a great deal of unhelpful speculation in the press around constitutional questions", which had "only served to distract from the fundamental issue of safeguarding".

Speculation has centred on the part played by both the Crown and the Bishop of Winchester in the appointment and management of the Dean of Jersey, who is commissioned by the Bishop but appointed by the Crown. The independent report states that: "The rigorous implementation of the safeguarding procedures seemed to be hampered by RK's [Robert Key's] view that Jersey procedure had to take precedence."

The report recommends that "Winchester diocese and the States of Jersey must ensure that the Dean is not at any time placed in an irreconcilable position of being unable to fulfil his role on Jersey, whilst also subject to the authority of his Bishop. It is also essential for him to be able to protect himself against an unfair accusation".

On Tuesday, a spokesman for the diocese of Winchester said that, "under legal advice",

Bishop Dakin had "effectively suspended" Dean Key while the inquiry was conducted.

The clergy in Jersey are understood to be upset by the implication in comments from the Bishop of Winchester and the Archbishop of Canterbury that they failed to take care of the complainant. The report states that "both clergy and parishioners offered support and kindness" to the complainant.

Brigadier Bruce Willing, a member of the congregation at St Martin's, Gouray, Jersey, said on Tuesday that a meeting of about 60 per cent of the island's churchwardens and Readers had been held on Monday. As a result, a letter had been sent to Archbishop Welby, "seeking his help" through his director of reconciliation, David Porter.

Another lay person in Jersey said on Monday: "The laity are very unhappy because the Dean is extremely popular. But the way that the Bishop has comported himself seems to be designed to get maximum negative press information regarding our Dean."

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