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Confusion over apologies in Jersey safeguarding case

27 May 2016


Making waves: St Brelade's harbour breakwater, Jersey

Making waves: St Brelade's harbour breakwater, Jersey

TWO apologies were issued this week over the safeguarding row on Jersey, sparking further disagreement within the Church of England.

On Friday, it was revealed that the Archbishop of Canterbury had apologised to the Dean of Jersey, the Very Revd Bob Key, for the “hurt and treatment” he and his wife had received from the Church since the safeguarding issue first arose.

But just hours later, the Bishop of Winchester, the Rt Revd Tim Dakin, who was responsible for suspending Dean Key briefly in 2013, insisted that it was the complainant, a women known only as HG, who was the victim. He had apologised to her the previous week, and offered her help and support.

The two apologies expose a split in the upper echelons of the Church over how to deal with the long-running issue on the island.

A review by the psychotherapist Jan Korris, in 2013, identified several failures to implement safeguarding procedures when the original complaint was made by HG (in 2008). As a result, Bishop Dakin suspended the Dean, and reinstated him a few months later only after he had made a belated apology for his handling of HG’s complaint (News, 15 March 2013).

But another investigation, led by the retired judge Dame Heather Steel, has concluded that no blame for any mishandling of the complaint should be attached to Dean Key. As a result, Archbishop Welby invited the Dean and his wife Daphne to Lambeth Palace earlier this month to apologise to them in person.

In a letter written by the Archbishop to the Bailiff of Jersey last week, the Archbishop said that he wanted to “affirm all that is good and godly in their ministry and offer an apology for the hurt and treatment which they have received over these past years”.

The appropriate concern for HG should be matched by a concern for Dean Key and his wife as “faithful servants of the Church”, the Archbishop also said.

In a statement, Dean Key said that he was grateful for Archbishop Welby’s understanding and “leadership” in making his apology.

“It is so encouraging for me as Dean to know that, having been exonerated by Dame Heather Steel, I have now received an apology from the Archbishop,” he said. “I am so grateful to the leaders, clergy, and people of Jersey for their support and encouragement. It is extremely good to have the record finally put straight.”

The impasse between Dean Key and Bishop Dakin led to the transfer of oversight of the Channel Islands from the diocese of Winchester to the diocese of Canterbury in 2014 (News, 24 January 2014).

Bishop Dakin continues to insist that there were significant problems in the way HG’s complaint was handled. A former Bishop of Chelmsford, the Rt Revd John Gladwin, has been leading a visitation on safeguarding in Jersey (News, 22 March 2013). His report has not yet been published, but Bishop Dakin said that he had seen Bishop Gladwin’s preliminary findings. “He believes that [HG’s] complaint was not adequately addressed in 2008 and that she has not received justice. I fully agree with this conclusion. I am deeply sorry that we as a Church failed her so badly and caused such anguish and pain.”

Dame Heather’s report will not be published, to avoid causing further distress to HG, Bishop Dakin confirmed.

Some in Jersey have been angered by what they see as Bishop Dakin disregarding the Church’s apology to Dean Key. Senator Sir Philip Bailhache, lay chairman of the Jersey deanery synod, told the Jersey Evening Post that Bishop Dakin had “misjudged and mishandled this matter from the very start”.

The complainant has also rejected Bishop Dakin’s apology, describing it in a statement as a “pretence” and demanding an independent investigation.

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