On 25 May 2022, the Church of England issued the following Press Release on the a review of handling of safeguarding issues regarding the former Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, Dr Martyn Percy, and the associated Terms of Reference.
The Church of England’s Independent Safeguarding Board, ISB, has today published its Terms of Reference (see below) to review the handling of safeguarding issues regarding the former Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, Dr Martyn Percy.
The review follows a referral by the Archbishops’ Council and Oxford Diocese to the ISB. As previously stated, the review will not be considering the wider issues between the College and the former Dean.
Statement from Maggie Atkinson, Chair of the ISB:
“Given substantial previous work has been undertaken but solid conclusions now need to be reached, under the scrutiny remit of the ISB we will undertake a review considering all that has previously been done on this case.
“Our aim will be to advise both those directly affected, and the whole of the C of E, where what has previously been done was appropriate and of good quality, and where there have been errors or shortcomings.
“It is particularly important that those who have been caused pain by what has happened, including the former Dean, have their concerns heard and reviewed by an independent body. The ISB was formed to do such work, and to tell both those affected by complex cases such as this, and the wider church, where change is needed.”
Terms of Reference
The Terms of Reference of the ISB are outlined in Terms of Reference: Independent Safeguarding Board (ISB) Review: Christ Church Oxford. These state inter alia [emphasis added]:
- The review was requested and is jointly commissioned by the Archbishop’s Council (AC) and the Diocese of Oxford [1.2], and Its findings will be presented in a published ISB report [1.3].
- The period under consideration begins in early March 2020 and ends in March 2022. The long standing dispute between the then-Dean and the College authorities is outside the scope of this review [1.4].
- The ISB is not a judicial or quasi-judicial body. This being the case, whilst the ISB will complete an independent review and make recommendations arising from its findings, it will then be for others to determine which recommendations are then adopted and implemented, and how any such implementation will be undertaken. [2.1].
- The purpose of an ISB review is to ensure that alleged or proven abusive behaviours or failures in safeguarding and/or its leadership, along with their attendant damage to reputations, relationships, practice and governance in any institution, might in future be prevented. This part of the ISB remit is particularly relevant given the complex issues this case has raised. The NST’s work is therefore central to, but it is not the only body whose work will be considered during, this Review. [2.2].
- The ISB’s report will centre on: How well or badly safeguarding responsibilities have been fulfilled; How well the NST has undertaken its work, or commissioned others to undertake it; and Presenting clear findings and recommendations to the parties concerned in Oxford, the leadership of the C of E, and the wider church. [2.10].
- The ISB’s remit requires that its work is objective. It is not part of the C of E’s complaints systems, but an independent body. The funding that supports it comes from the Archbishops’ Council (AC) acting as a commissioner of this specific piece of work. The AC cannot direct the ISB’s work. It can ask for consideration of topics including reviews such as this one, but the ISB does not have to take them up. If it does so, how the work is done is determined by the ISB. [3.1].
- The Review will commence on Monday 30 May 2022 [4.1]. On that date, a call for the submission of written evidence will be issued directly to those already acknowledged as having such evidence to contribute, [listed in 4.2]. The ISB will take NO further written materials that are not presented following this single call for evidence and adhering to its deadline. [Emboldening in original].
- The call for evidence will close on Friday 01 July 2022. [4.3]. This portion of the work should be completed by 30 September 2022 [4.5].
- The ISB will present a polished draft report by the end of 2022. This draft will be issued in strict confidence, for read and comments on factual accuracy only. Recipients will be limited to those to whom the call for evidence was issued [4.8]. One month will be allowed for comments on the text, editorial control of which will remain with the ISB.
- The report will be published by the end of January 2023. If readers cannot agree at this final stage, the ISB will publish with their disagreement noted in the text.
- THE MAXIMUM SLIPPAGE THE ISB WILL ALLOW FOR COMPLETION OF THIS PIECE OF WORK IS ONE MONTH FROM THE FINAL DATE GIVEN ABOVE… [Capitalization and emboldening in original].
- The report will be written and published by the ISB’s 3 members, who have complete editorial control.
On 25 May 2022, the Diocese of Oxford updated its earlier Press Release first published 11 May 2022 to include link to the independent review terms of reference.
On 12 May 2022, Jonathan Gibbs, Church of England’s lead safeguarding bishop, issued a Statement on concerns raised by former Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, Dr Martyn Percy.
Martyn Percy’s response to the proposed ISB review and his views on safeguarding generally in the C of E can be read in three articles he has written, published this week on the ‘Modern Church’ website:
The Ministry of Truth and Safeguarding in the Church of England (A ‘Lessons Learned Review’ from 1984)
Ethical? (or, Tea and Sympathy Are Not Enough)
The Church of England…. Trustworthy?
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