Bishop of Llandaff: Disciplinary action dismissed

The Diocese of Llandaff has reported that the disciplinary action against the Bishop of Llandaff has come to an end following the withdrawal of the complaint. The background is summarized in the Diocesan Press Release:

“The Bishop of Llandaff, June Osborne, was due to appear before the Church in Wales Disciplinary Tribunal following a complaint by the Dean of Llandaff, Gerwyn Capon. Mr Capon has now voluntarily and unconditionally withdrawn his complaint and as a result the case has been dismissed by the President of the Disciplinary Tribunal. The Proctor, the lawyer tasked with presenting the complaint to the Tribunal, told the President that the Dean had ‘reached a clear and settled decision’ to withdraw his complaint and there was ‘insufficient evidence to satisfy the burden of proof’ to the required standard.”

The full report of the President, Mark Powell QC, is at: Disciplinary Tribunal of the Church in Wales – The Church in Wales, extracts of which are reproduced in the following summary.


Re: a Complaint from the Dean of Llandaff referred to the Tribunal by the Archbishop of Wales: 

Order Pursuant to Rule 17 of the Courts and Tribunal of the Church in Wales

Procedural issues relating to the formal communications on this complaint over the period 8 April 2022 to 20 April 2022, inclusive, are described in paragraphs [1] to [5]. The letter from the Proctor to the Registrar, which was copied to the Respondent’s solicitors on 20 April, explained various difficulties he faced regarding his pursuing the case [5]. The letter notes that that there were evidential difficulties of which the Preliminary Adjudicator was evidently aware, but which the Proctor believed needed to be resolved by way of oral evidence at a full hearing.

However, the withdrawal of support for this complaint by the Dean was “clearly a significant new difficulty in this case”. The Proctor considered whether this complaint might continue to a full hearing without the Dean’s support, but was satisfied that it could not, for a number of reasons, outlined in [5]. In the light of these, the Proctor stated [ellipsis in original]:

“[6] 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.”

The President was in entire agreement with the position presented by the Proctor; he was, however, presented with a procedural difficulty in that the Tribunal Rules do not make explicit provision for what should happen in a situation such as this [7]:

“[8]. The default position is that the Respondent now has the opportunity to respond to the Proctor’s case, a date be set for a Hearing (which requires 28 days’ advance notice under the Rules) and for the parties and their legal representatives to attend that Hearing in front of a five-person disciplinary panel. This introduces both delay and significant cost in the disposal of these proceedings.

[9]. However, Rule 17 of the Rules of the Tribunal and the Courts states:

‘Subject to these Rules, the Court shall have the power to take any other step or make any other Order or Direction which it deems expedient for the purpose of managing and furthering the just disposition of the case’.

[10]. I am entirely satisfied that the just disposition of this case is furthered by an Order dismissing the case against the Respondent and bringing these disciplinary proceedings to and end now. I have consulted with the parties and no objection has been made to that course of action.

He therefore ordered that the case against the Respondent be rejected and the referral be dismissed. This concludes the disciplinary proceedings against the Respondent.


Comment

Concluding the proceedings, the President commented: on the publicity associated with this complaint, an issue which L&RUK has followed but not reported on. He said:

“[13]. The default position under the Tribunal Rules is that proceedings are held in private. A rejection or dismissal of a charge against a Respondent is not routinely published. However, I am aware that selected extracts of the Preliminary Adjudicator’s report found their way into the public domain via the media, and this case more widely has been the subject of significant attention in both the local and the church press. This being so, I do not wish there to be any lack of clarity as to the conclusions of the Tribunal – this would be entirely unfair on both the Dean and the Respondent.

[14]. Having consulted with the Respondent’s solicitors pursuant to Rule 139, and also with the Archbishop (acting as the referring Bishop for this referral) and Proctor, I direct the Registrar to publish this Order on the Provincial website of the Church in Wales, within 14 days, for a period of at least 21 days.”


Update

On 17 May 2022, it was reported that the Dean of Llandaff had announced his resignation.

Cite this article as: David Pocklington, "Bishop of Llandaff: Disciplinary action dismissed" in Law & Religion UK, 28 April 2022, https://lawandreligionuk.com/2022/04/28/bishop-of-llandaff-disciplinary-action-dismissed/

 

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