Dean Richard Peers CDM decision

On 21 March 2024, the Bishop’s Disciplinary Tribunal for the Diocese of Oxford handed down its Decision The Revd Canon Richard Peers – March 2024 and reasons in relation to facts and conduct.


[2]. The hearing in relation to facts and conduct has taken place in private over 5 days (which included a day of deliberation by the Tribunal) between 4 and 8 March 2024. The hearing was then adjourned until 21 March 2024 for the public pronouncement of the Tribunal’s findings. The main body of the hearing took place in person, whereas the adjourned hearing proceeded remotely.


[4]. The Panel also records here its deep concern at some of the conduct that has been revealed in the course of this matter. Prima facie breaches of confidentiality in the process have come to light. As to the wider history of the matter – which the Panel has had to review – as well as social media and gossip playing a part in aggravating a highly complex and delicate situation, there have also been misguided expressions of deeply entrenched views against the Respondent, including through a sermon and the circulation of derogatory cartoons amongst members of the cathedral congregation and receipt by the Respondent of a grossly offensive and threatening letter containing a white powder.

The Panel makes no findings as to these matters. Save where explicitly stated, they are not matters which have been other than tangentially relevant to the issues before the Panel and the Panel has carefully treated them as such. Nonetheless, such an unedifying picture of unkindness and immaturity has emerged as part of the background to the case that the Panel is moved to observe that this has done many involved serious discredit. The Panel expresses the sincere hope that this decision will bring a full stop to what has been an extremely damaging saga to all concerned.

Summary of Panel’s decision on misconduct:

[5]. The Panel has concluded that the allegation against the Respondent shall stand dismissed. The reasons for its conclusion are detailed (in paragraphs [6] to [139]).

Case management history [6].

Charge against the Respondent: [7] to [9]

[8]. The charge that the Respondent has faced is as follows:

“The conduct of the Respondent, THE REVEREND CANON RICHARD PEERS, was unbecoming or inappropriate to the office and work of a clerk in Holy Orders within s.8(1)(d) of the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003 in that he, around the time of and following the commencement of Clergy Discipline Measure proceedings against the Very Revd Martyn Percy, had contact with or met a number of third parties in the course of which he, the respondent, in breach of confidentiality and/or inappropriately, unfairly denigrated or undermined Mr Percy and/or promoted a narrative of events and/or expressed his views or opinions on the merits of what was alleged, in a way which was partisan and/or biased and/or misleading and/or false and/or unfairly imbalanced.”

[9]. The Respondent admitted the fact of the contact with the third parties at the time alleged, but denied the totality of the substance of the charge, namely that such contact amounted to any of “breach of confidentiality and/or inappropriately, unfairly denigrated or undermined Mr Percy and/or promoted a narrative of events and/or expressed his views or opinions on the merits of what was alleged, in a way which was partisan and/or biased and/or misleading and/or false and/or unfairly imbalanced”.

The Tribunal’s approach to these proceedings: [10] to [14].

[11]. The Panel has … had regard to a framework of regulations and guidance, in particular the following:

11.1 The Clergy Discipline Measure 2003 (the “CDM”);

11.2 The Clergy Discipline Rules 2005 (the “Rules”);

11.3 The Code of Practice (the “Code”), which provides guidance to those concerned in formal clergy discipline and provides additional explanation and information regarding the CDM and the Rules, of particular relevance in this case in relation to its explanation of unbecoming or inappropriate conduct; and

11.4 Canon 26.2, the Ordinal and the Guidelines for the Professional Conduct of the Clergy 2015, which describes what is desirable in the professional conduct of ordained ministry.

[12]. The Panel has observed that the burden of proof rests throughout on the DO and that the standard of proof in these proceedings is the civil standard, which is a single unvarying standard with no sliding scale. In this regard the Panel has taken the approach that matters will be proved on the balance of probabilities if it is satisfied by the evidence that it is more likely than not that the conduct occurred.

It also took the approach that the more serious the allegation of misconduct that is made or the more serious the consequences that flow for the Respondent from a finding against him, the more persuasive (cogent) the evidence needed to be in order to meet that standard. It reminded itself that this does not mean that the standard is higher. It means only that the inherent probability or improbability of the conduct occurring is itself a matter to be taken into account when weighing the probability and deciding whether on balance the conduct occurred.

[13]. … [The panel] has repeatedly reminded itself of the need to consider all of the evidence in the round as to how events unfolded and how these were perceived, both by the Respondent and those he was interacting with, but has put out of its mind irrelevancies…

It has described its approach to this below where relevant and has sought, in the first instance, to ensure thoroughness and accuracy by distilling discrete allegations from the generality of the evidence, bearing in mind the aspects of the evidence relevant to the different allegations made, and also to ensure that it stepped back and assessed the totality of the evidence as well…

[14]. The facts of the case are a matter of record. The accounts of the witnesses not called to give oral evidence are clearly contained in the papers before the Tribunal. The evidence of witnesses, including the Respondent, who gave oral evidence is a matter of record.

Background: [15] to [41].

Assessment of witnesses: [41] to [131].

Assessment of the evidence as a whole [132, 133].

Findings as to conduct unbecoming or inappropriate conduct [134] to [139]


[140]. It will be evident from the foregoing that all of the allegations relied upon for this charge have been found not proved or not to amount to conduct unbecoming or inappropriate to the office of a clerk in Holy Orders.

[141]. As such the allegation shall stand dismissed.

21 March 2024

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On 31 March 2024, Llandaff Cathedral issued the Press Release Retirement of Dean Richard Peers.

Updated 31March 2024 at 16:17. 

Cite this article as: David Pocklington, "Dean Richard Peers CDM decision" in Law & Religion UK, 22 March 2024,

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  1. Pingback: Oxford disciplinary tribunal decision | Thinking Anglicans

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