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No further action in Christ Church case

12 April 2024

There is a significant need for finality in these proceedings

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Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford

Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford

“NO FURTHER steps” will be taken against the complainant in the Clergy Discipline Measure (CDM) process against the former Sub-Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, concerning alleged breaches of confidentiality in the tribunal process, it was ruled on Monday.

Two weeks ago, a tribunal cleared the Very Revd Richard Peers, who was at Christ Church for two years before becoming Dean of Llandaff, of making inappropriate comments about the former Dean of Christ Church, Dr Martyn Percy (News, 26 March).

He subsequently announced his decision to retire (News, 3 April), and his successor in Llandaff was named on Sunday (News, 7 April)

The tribunal judgment referred to potential breaches of confidentiality by the complainant, Karen Gadd, after she admitted to sharing documents with her husband, Geoffrey Haines, and a former member of the General Synod, David Lamming.

After the judgment was read out in a public hearing on 21 March, Dean Peers’s counsel, Justin Gau, suggested that the alleged breaches of confidentiality might warrant further investigation.

The chair of the tribunal, Lyndsey de Mestre KC, has declined to pursue the issue any further, however. “There is a significant need for finality in these proceedings,” she said.

In a ruling dated Monday, she highlighted inconsistencies in the statutory guidance on the CDM. It states that “all matters relating to an allegation should be kept strictly private and confidential. This includes written documents and material which, save for legal representatives, should not be shared with third parties.”

On the next page, however, it says that documents “can be shared with those who have a legitimate reason for seeing them. For example, legal professionals, witnesses, healthcare professionals or others providing support during the disciplinary processes.”

Ms de Mestre concluded that there was “ambiguity as to the limits on the dissemination of documents and the precise use to which such documents can be put”.

For this reason, there was no “realistic probability” of substantiating a charge of contempt against Mrs Gadd, she said, and consequently ruled that no further action should be taken.

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