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Review group set up to look at Percy case

03 November 2023

DAVID HARTLEY/CHURCH TIMES

Dr Martyn Percy

Dr Martyn Percy

THE next step towards an independent review of the handling of safeguarding complaints against the former Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, Dr Martyn Percy, was announced on Thursday, with the appointment of a group to consider the evidence and to decide on an independent reviewer.

Dr Percy was the subject of a formal complaint (News, 5 November 2018), in what became a long-running dispute with the college authorities. Dr Percy was first accused of mishandling safeguarding cases, and was subsequently accused of assaulting a woman by stroking her hair (News, 20 November 2020).

The four-year dispute ended in February last year with a settlement under which the college agreed to pay “a substantial sum in compensation” to Dr Percy (News, 4 February 2022), and he agreed to resign his post.

The new review group comprises five members and an administrative assistant. Sir Mark Hedley, a retired High Court judge (Interview, 23 June), will chair the group. He was formerly the Chancellor of Liverpool diocese, and a deputy president of clergy discipline tribunals

The other members are Phil Johnson, a survivor of church-related sexual abuse and advocate for other survivors; Sarah McKimm, a solicitor and the independent chair of the diocesan safeguarding advisory panel for the diocese of London; Sir Roger Singleton, a former chief executive of Barnardo’s and interim director of safeguarding for the C of E; and the Dean of Southwell, the Very Revd Nicola Sullivan, who is the lead dean for safeguarding.

The statement announcing the formation of the new group says that it will “not be concerned with the wider issues between the former Dean and the College”, but will instead focus on the handling of safeguarding issues, including “relevant reports and investigations including those commissioned by the National Safeguarding Team and the diocese of Oxford as well as material from Clergy Discipline Measure (CDM) proceedings”.

The review had originally fallen under the remit of the Independent Safeguarding Board (ISB), but, in February, the Archbishops’ Council agreed that a different body would take on the work (News, 1 February). The ISB itself was subsequently disbanded, and its demise is also currently subject to a review (News, 11 September).

The group will perform the first “safeguarding practice review”, formerly known as a “learning lesson review”, set up under the new Safeguarding Code of Practice approved at General Synod in July.

Last month, the Governing Body of Christ Church agreed to split responsibility for the cathedral and the college, ending a centuries-old arrangement in which the Dean of the cathedral was also Head of House (News, 19 October).

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