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Bishop Dyer fights suspension in Aberdeen & Orkney

10 August 2022

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The Bishop of Aberdeen & Orkney, the Rt Revd Anne Dyer

The Bishop of Aberdeen & Orkney, the Rt Revd Anne Dyer

IN A dramatic turn-around, the Bishop of Aberdeen & Orkney, the Rt Revd Anne Dyer, has had her suspension from duty rescinded, it was announced late on Wednesday.

Earlier in the day it was reported that the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Most Revd Mark Strange, had suspended her after two formal complaints alleging misconduct were made.

An official statement from the Scottish Episcopal Church said: “Due process will now follow, through the clergy disciplinary canon. . . The suspension will be kept under regular review. It does not constitute disciplinary action and does not imply any assumption that misconduct has been committed.”

And it was announced that the Bishop of Edinburgh, Dr John Armes, would serve as Acting Bishop of the diocese during this suspension, in addition to his normal duties.

Late in the day, however, a new statement on the Church’s website announced: “The suspension of the Rt Revd Anne Dyer has been lifted with immediate effect, after the Bishop of Aberdeen & Orkney gave notice of an appeal against the decision to suspend her from office. . .

“The suspension ceases to have effect until the appeal is determined by the Episcopal Synod. It is expected that a meeting of the Episcopal Synod will be arranged as soon as possible.”

Bishop Dyer’s tenure has been troubled since early in her time in office. She is the first woman bishop in the Scottish Episcopal Church, and was elected by the College of Bishops after the diocese failed to agree a candidate (News, 11 November 2017; 5 January 2018).

In October 2020, the trustees of St Andrew’s Cathedral, Aberdeen, commissioned an HR review after a dispute with the director of music. The following year, a second review was commissioned, this time by the Primus, the Most Revd Mark Strange, after allegations of bullying were made during a dispute with the Rector of St Andrew’s Cathedral, Dr Isaac Poobalan (News, 6 March 2021).

The review, conducted by the Very Revd Professor Iain Torrance, Pro-Chancellor of the University of Aberdeen and a former Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, reported in September 2021, and recommended that Bishop Dyer step back from office immediately (News, 11 September 2021).

Professor Torrance wrote: “I cannot recommend the continuation of a tenure in which I fear that more people will be made to feel diminished and discouraged. Consequently, I recommend that, for the good of the diocese, she be immediately granted a period of sabbatical leave and step back permanently from the diocese.”

The Scottish bishops chose instead to initiate a process of mediation (News, 8 October 2021, 4 February 2022).

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