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Christ Church votes for Dominic Grieve to head review

24 June 2022


Dominic Grieve in Whitehall, Westminster, in October 2019

Dominic Grieve in Whitehall, Westminster, in October 2019

THE former Conservative Cabinet minister Dominic Grieve, QC, has been appointed by Christ Church, Oxford, to lead an independent review into the governance of its Foundation, it was announced last week.

The Governing Body of Christ Church “voted overwhelmingly” for Mr Grieve, who was Attorney General for England and Wales from 2010 to 2014, to carry out the review, a statement said.

Mr Grieve said: “I am both pleased and honoured to be chairing this Review, which I believe will help Christ Church to sustain its long history of academic excellence and flourish as a modern institution. I am delighted to play a role in this process.”

The review is expected to report next year, and “will make recommendations that the Governing Body will carefully consider, to ensure that Christ Church’s statutes, by-laws and governance arrangements meet the needs of this unique institution in the 21st century”, the statement said.

The review comes after a long-running dispute with the former Dean of Christ Church, Professor Martyn Percy, who announced last month that he was leaving the Church of England (News, 13 May).

The Independent Safeguarding Board (ISB) announced last month its terms of reference for an investigation into the handling of safeguarding concerns at the college (News, 27 May). It will not consider the long-running dispute between Professor Percy and the college.

A letter sent to members of the Archbishops’ Council last week by Martin Sewell, a General Synod member for Rochester, which has six signatories, expresses serious concerns “about the authority and capacity of the ISB as concurrently configured to carry out and deliver a comprehensive review of all the outstanding issues around Christ Church that would carry the confidence of all parties and the Church and public generally”. It asks the Archbishops’ Council to “pause this review immediately”, and for “a proper, unambiguously independent, inquiry, chaired by a senior lawyer” to be established instead.

A Church House spokesperson said this week: “The Independent Safeguarding Board, ISB, was set up in 2021, following a decision by the Archbishops’ Council and House of Bishops to provide independent external scrutiny and oversight of the Church’s safeguarding activity. This includes overseeing the work of the National Safeguarding Team, NST, which along with Oxford diocese referred this issue to the ISB.

“Its remit is also to advise on how an independent presence on safeguarding should work in the long term. The ISB operates independently in that it decides its work programme, it sets its own terms of reference for its work, and it can scrutinise any aspect of the Church’s safeguarding activity that it chooses. General Synod received a full presentation and paper on the work of the ISB at its February Synod.”

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