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Dean’s defenders rally in Jersey

05 April 2013

THE Archbishop of Canterbury has been asked to "take a personal interest" in the case of the Dean of Jersey, the Very Revd Robert Key, who was effectively suspended last month by the Bishop of Winchester, the Rt Revd Tim Dakin ( News, 15 March).

The Assistant Chief Minister of Jersey, Senator Sir Philip Bailhache, wrote an open letter to Archbishop Welby on Tuesday of last week, stating that Dean Key had been treated "unfairly", causing "great distress" on the island.

Bishop Dakin withdrew his commission from Dean Key on 8 March, after the publication of a review by Jan Korris, a psychotherapist, of a safeguarding complaint from a vulnerable adult, identified as "HG" (the "Korris review"). The review was critical of the Dean's handling of the complaint, and on 18 March Bishop Dakin announced that a former Bishop of Chelmsford, the Rt Revd John Gladwin, would lead an inquiry into safeguarding in Jersey ( News, 22 March).

In his open letter, Sir Philip lists "flaws" in the Korris review. He also writes that, if the Gladwin inquiry is disciplinary, "it appears to be contrary to the provision of Jersey law." If it is not disciplinary, "it is unclear how the Dean is to exonerate himself from the accusations made against him."

The Canons of the Church of England in Jersey set out a disciplinary procedure for clergy, which is not subject to the Clergy Discipline Measure in operation in England. Sir Philip argues that this is the procedure that should be employed.

The suspension of Dean Key has prompted questions in the States Assembly in Jersey about the powers of the Bishop of Winchester in relation to the island. On 19 March, the Solicitor General confirmed that "as a matter of law the Dean today is still the Dean". This is because the Dean is commissioned by the Bishop, but appointed by the Queen.

Members of congregations in Jersey have been encouraged to write to Bishop Dakin and Archbishop Welby to call for the immediate revocation of the suspension of Dean Key. A template letter, circulated anonymously, describes the suspension as "heavy-handed", leaving Christians on the island "disenfranchised".

On Tuesday of last week, Bishop Gladwin gave an "assurance that the inquiry will be undertaken fairly and independently".

On the same day, it was reported that Dean Key had been signed off work by his GP because of "work-related stress".

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