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Bishop of Llandaff in the clear after Dean withdraws his charge of bullying

26 April 2022

Alamy

Llandaff Cathedral

Llandaff Cathedral

THE Dean of Llandaff, the Very Revd Gerwyn Capon, has withdrawn his complaint of bullying against the Bishop of Llandaff, the Rt Revd June Osborne (News, 1 April).

His action, announced on Tuesday, means that the case, which would have brought Bishop Osborne in front of a Church in Wales disciplinary tribunal, has been dismissed. The Dean has been on sick leave with work-related depression for two years, and, out of an expressed determination to vindicate his good name, has rejected offers of a settlement.

A diocesan statement said he had “voluntarily and unconditionally” withdrawn the complaint. The Revd Gavin Foster, joint-registrar of Salisbury diocese, and appointed by the tribunal as proctor to represent the Dean, deemed that there was “insufficient evidence to satisfy the burden of proof”.

Dean Capon, via his proctor, received the Bishop’s response to his complaint on 11 April. Instead of a planned meeting with the proctor on 20 April to formulate his case, the Dean notified the Archbishop of Wales, the Most Revd Andrew John, and the diocesan registrar, on 16 April that he wished to withdraw his complaint.

In a letter to the registrar, the proctor writes: “The case relies entirely on the evidence of the Dean. He has produced nothing in the way of supporting documents. People he suggested might support his case have, instead, supported the Respondent’s [i.e. the Bishop’s] case.

“Where documentary evidence exists — largely in the form of emails and text messages produced by the Respondent as part of her response — it tends to support the Respondent’s version of events rather than the Dean’s.

“While these messages have not been produced or documented as carefully as they might have been, there is no reason to doubt their authenticity. The messages generally suggest a much warmer and more collaborative relationship for much of the period in question than is consistent with the Dean’s account.”

The Dean, continues the proctor, “appears to have reached a clear and settled decision to withdraw his complaint. As the person principally affected by the alleged behaviour of the Respondent, the tribunal will be reluctant to find a case proved without his support.

“My conclusion is therefore that the evidence available to me as proctor is clearly insufficient for me to satisfy the burden of proof in this case to the required standard. I am therefore presenting no allegations for the tribunal to adjudicate upon. . . I trust that this complaint can now be quickly concluded.”

In his judgment dismissing the case, Mark Powell QC, president of the disciplinary tribunal, commended Dean Capon’s action: “In my experience, cases such as these can quickly escalate out of control. It takes significant courage and grace to take a step back and reconsider one’s position once formal processes such as these have begun. I hope that this can be the trigger for healing and reconciliation between all involved.”

Bishop Osborne, in her first public comment on the matter, said: “I am pleased to learn that this matter is now resolved and the proceedings dismissed. It has been a challenging time for Llandaff Cathedral and the diocese. I am grateful for the support I have received from my colleagues and ask that we continue to keep the Dean in our prayers.”

Archbishop John said: “I welcome the clarity of the President of the Disciplinary Tribunal’s order, and that this matter has now reached a conclusion. My hope is that there is now a fresh opportunity to rebuild trust and to seek healing.”

Forthcoming Events

2 July 2022
Bringing Down the Mighty: Church, Theology and Structural Injustice
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4-8 July 2022
HeartEdge Mission Summer School
From HeartEdge and St Augustine’s College of Theology.

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