THE Dean of Lincoln, the Very Revd Christine Wilson, is to return to work after an 11-month safeguarding investigation. The investigation concluded that her handling of a safeguarding allegation was “out of character and unlikely to be repeated”.
In a related move, the Acting Bishop of Lincoln, Dr David Court, said in a statement last week that he would be initiating a Bishop’s Visitation of the cathedral. This is a formal process to examine the cathedral’s governance. A further statement on the visitation is due later this week.
Dean Wilson has been on voluntary leave since last April while a non-recent safeguarding matter, thought to involve vulnerable adults, was being investigated (News, 26 April 2019).
Dr Court said that the Bishop of Sheffield, Dr Pete Wilcox, had upheld “the majority” of a complaint under the Clergy Discipline Measure against the Dean by the National Safeguarding Team (NST) of the Church of England.
“The majority of the complaint has been upheld and it was determined to be out of character and unlikely to be repeated. The Dean has completed further safeguarding training, and is now returning to ministry in the cathedral and the diocese.
“Dean Christine Wilson says she has learnt important lessons in responding well to survivors, and understands the importance of making apologies when the Church gets things wrong. She is looking forward to resuming ministry in the Cathedral, serving the city and the county.”
In a separate statement the NST explained: “The complaint related to the way in which the Dean dealt with a safeguarding disclosure made to her.
“The Bishop took into account that the Dean had admitted misconduct and had expressed genuine regret in not immediately following the correct process when handling and reporting the disclosure that was made to her. He also took into account that she had agreed to undergo further safeguarding training.
“On that basis, and with the Dean’s consent, the Bishop directed that the matter was to be recorded conditionally and remain on the record for four years (‘conditional deferment’). The result is that if another complaint is made against the Dean, the conditionally deferred complaint may also be proceeded with together with the new complaint.”
The National Director of Safeguarding, Melissa Caslake, said: “The Church takes all safeguarding issues very seriously and it is vital lessons are learnt, and in this case further training undertaken, when our policies and procedures are not followed, to ensure the Church is a safer place for all.”
The Chancellor of Lincoln Cathedral, Canon Paul Overend, has also been on leave since April. He appeared at Cardiff Crown Court in January charged with indecent assault against a woman between April and July 1997, when he was a chaplain at Cardiff University (News, 10 January 2020; 29 November 2019). He has been granted unconditional bail. A trial date has been set for 29 June.
The Bishop of Lincoln, the Rt Revd Christopher Lowson, has been suspended over a separate safeguarding issue since last May (News, 17 May).