THE Scottish Episcopal Church (SEC) has launched an independent review into the diocese of Aberdeen & Orkney.
The move comes after allegations of bullying by the Bishop, the Rt Revd Anne Dyer, surfaced at the end of last month. Press reports said that “about ten” priests and church workers had taken complaints of bullying to the Unite union.
Its national officer, Siobhan Endean, said on Monday of last week: “We are aware of the allegations of bullying being made against the Rt Reverend Anne Dyer, the Bishop of Aberdeen & Orkney.
“Unite represents a number of clergy and church workers within the Scottish Episcopal Church, who claim to have been bullied by Bishop Anne Dyer. Unite takes a zero-tolerance stand against bullying in the workplace.
”This is an ongoing situation of some sensitivity involving dialogue between Unite and Bishop Mark Strange, Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church. We will not be commenting further at this stage.”
The Primus, who is Bishop of Moray, Ross & Caithness, has no powers to intervene in the affairs of another diocese; the College of Bishops exercises a form of corporate episcope within the Province as a whole.
A spokesman for the SEC said last week: “The review will provide an opportunity for all relevant parties to make submissions about issues referred to within, leading up to, and arising from recent media coverage, as well as any other related issues.
“It will be a confidential process, and, at its conclusion, a report and any recommendations will be made to the College of Bishops, who will then assess what further action may be required. The college will now move to appoint an individual, independent of the SEC, to conduct the review as soon as possible.”
It is understood that the review will delve back at least three years, to before Bishop Dyer’s appointment in 2018. The electoral group of clergy and lay people in the largely conservative diocese (News, 12 January 2018) failed to reach agreement after two rounds of voting. Under the SEC’s constitution, the election passed to the bishops, who chose Bishop Dyer.
Fourteen priests in the diocese described her appointment at the time as divisive and disrespectful, and threatened to resign over the electoral process. The Primus condemned the protest and accused its authors of seeking to “subvert the outcome of the canonical process”.
There is a second investigation currently under way in the diocese. In October 2020, the trustees of St Andrew’s Cathedral appointed an independent human-resources company “to investigate and provide potential solutions to the current issues surrounding the director of music, and subsequent breakdown in working relationships”. St Andrew’s remains closed and in need of significant funding, and St Mary’s, Aberdeen, is functioning as the pro-cathedral.