Recent CDM Tribunal Decisions (I)

Two CDM decisions* were reported in April 2021 – The Revd Graeme Rainey: Determination of Penalty  and The Revd William Bulloch: Decision – Court of Arches. Extracts from the former are summarized below; the latter is reported in a subsequent here.

The Revd Graeme Rainey – Determination of Penalty

The Determination of Penalty by the Bishop’s Disciplinary Tribunal for the Diocese of Sheffield was handed down on 7 April 2021.

“By a decision dated the 30th August 2019, the then deputy President of Tribunals referred two allegations of misconduct, made first in…5th March 2018, for determination by a tribunal. The first averred a single occasion of sexual misconduct by the respondent with AB, then aged 16, which occurred in the summer of 1994. This was admitted by the respondent in…17th December 2018. The second allegation related to an ongoing sexual relationship between the respondent and AB between July and October 1994. The respondent denied that allegation, maintaining that misconduct was limited to a single day” [1] to [3].

“The Tribunal’s Determination for penalty related solely to the first allegation, namely misconduct upon a single day. The second allegation, by agreement, stands dismissed” [4], [5].

The respondent, aged 54 at the time of the Determination, was ordained deacon in 1993 and priest in 1994. The misconduct occurred “one day in the summer of 1994, around AB’s 16th birthday” [13], [14], and although consensual, at the time was illegal by reason of AB’s age.

“The respondent left the parish in 1996. He maintained some contact with the B family for a time thereafter. He then served as a university chaplain from 1996-2004 and a school chaplain from 2004 – 2010, at which point he ceased (so far as we have ascertained) to hold any office or licence within the Church of England.” [16]

“AB evidently shared something of his experiences with his mother in about 2007, but made no formal report of abuse until 2017 when he contacted the NSPCC for advice and the matter was duly reported to the police who investigated. AB was formally interviewed in May 2017. No prosecution followed nor, it would seem, was any barring decision made in respect of the respondent by the Disclosure and Barring Service§. The respondent has, in these proceedings, readily admitted his misconduct and that it was serious and inherently in breach of trust” [19] to [21].

“In engaging in sexual contact as he did, in our judgment he unacceptably crossed an impermissible physical, emotional, psychological and sexual boundary with someone under 18, a child, with whom he was in a pastoral relationship of responsibility and to whom he plainly owed a duty of care and protection. He allowed friendship to deteriorate, wholly inappropriately, into romantic attachment and then, exploiting AB’s feelings, immaturity and confusion, indulged his desires physically in a context where AB’s wellbeing and safety plainly demanded care and protection, not sexual interference”. [22].

“This was, in our judgment, a plain, even gross, betrayal of ministerial and personal responsibility and did grave disservice to AB, to his mother, to the parish and to the wider church”. [23].

The Tribunal considered the Guidance on Penalties (January 2021 revision) issued by the Clergy Discipline Commission [27]; in the deliberation of the respondent’s conduct and the impact upon AB and his family, [21] to [43],  it noted:

“Plainly, in this case, the respondent has not held ministerial office, licence or permission in the past decade or more. Removal from office, thus, does not arise” [43],

and concluded:

“Our unanimous decision (taking full account of the available mitigation) is that the respondent shall be prohibited from the exercise of any of the functions of his Orders for eight years from today. [48].

“His name shall be entered on the Archbishops’ List in accordance with s.38 of the Measure. [49].

“We have decided pursuant to Clergy Discipline Rules 2005 (as amended) r.49 (a), out of a desire to protect AB’s private life, to order that AB’s name must not be published or otherwise made public. We recognise in a case such as this that complete protective anonymity will necessarily be very difficult to achieve. [50].

“Normally a hearing such as this would have led to the pronouncement of our penalty in public, as the law requires. We direct that these written reasons shall be uploaded to the appropriate section of the Church of England website, thus, we trust, granting public access to those who seek it.” [51].



* In both of these cases, the Tribunal made an order for the anonymity of the person referred to as AB (at [5.2] in the case of Sheffield, and at [110] in the case of Chelmsford. The Arches Court continued permanently the order for anonymity of AB which was made by the Chelmsford Tribunal [at 5.2]). For the avoidance of doubt, it is evident from the respective determinations, that these two persons are in fact different.

§  From 2011 -2015 he was Assistant Head (Holistic Care) at an independent school and, from September 2015 until his resignation in September 2017, he was Head of Boarding and Designated Safeguarding Lead at another independent school. [18].

This post is based on reported assessment of the Bishop’s Disciplinary Tribunal for the Diocese of Sheffield; we would not presume to elaborate on this. In view of the pastoral sensitivities involved, comments on this post are closed.

Cite this article as: David Pocklington, "Recent CDM Tribunal Decisions (I)" in Law & Religion UK, 14 April 2021,

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