No confidence in the ISB Oxford Review

No confidence in the ISB Oxford Review

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Joe's Letter To Bishops started this petition

We the undersigned have read and support the expressed concerns about the Church of England’s handling of safeguarding bullying and mobbing cases, as illustrated in the case of Dr Martyn Percy (former Dean of Christ Church, Oxford), and set out in the published letter from members of General Synod addressed to Archbishops’ Council on the 13 June 2022. 

Independent Safeguarding Board and the Percy review

The letter raises a number of serious matters. Dr Percy’s allegations are extremely well evidenced. The Church of England's handling of these matters has been, and continues to be, wholly unsatisfactory.

This case is deeply symptomatic of the stubborn, systemic pastoral failures currently fashioning the Church of England. We know there are many other clergy and victims who have suffered under unjust systems lacking accountability, transparency, fairness, justice and integrity. We know of other victims silenced by the imposition of immoral Non Disclosure Agreements.

The Church of England has an extremely poor history for reviewing and regulating the actions of its senior leadership. This is extensively evidenced by the unsatisfactory delayed inquiries into the cases of John Smyth, Trevor Devamanikkam and Fr Alan Griffin. Far too often, we see a minimising of the consequences of failures, absolving leaders of responsibility and blame, and sanitising the reputations of those the Church still seeks to protect.

In Dr. Percy's case, nothing less than a full Independent Inquiry under the aegis of a senior legal figure of stature and experience is required to handle such matters. This is the only proper response to such a serious and wide-ranging set of concerns, which include the deliberate 'weaponizing of safeguarding', cover-ups, gross incompetence, denials and other grave misconduct. There is no indication that the perpetrators of this abuse will ever be brought to account using current avenues of redress or reform. As this case potentially includes serious misconduct on the part of the law firm representing the Diocese of Oxford, a PR agency, several senior church officers and clergy, as well as NST and Lambeth Palace staff, we believe that a serious, high-level Independent Inquiry (of judicial-public standard) is urgently required.

The current proposal to delegate these matters to a newly-formed and un-tested Independent Safeguarding Board (ISB) is unsatisfactory and unsafe. Not least because the ISB's proposed review is of uncertain provenance, independence and constitutionality. The review, as currently proposed, would be wholly incapable of resolving such a serious and complex case. Any conclusions that were issued by the ISB would not be able to carry the required trust, confidence and respect of the complainants, stakeholders, wider church and the general public. 

We therefore urge Archbishops' Council to request a full Independent Inquiry, led by a senior legal professional, to conduct a thorough review into the evidence for the 'weaponization of safeguarding' perpetrated by individuals, groups and bodies from within the Church of England, or using the CofE in such a way as to allow its processes to be abused and weaponized.

In the event of the Archbishops' Council evading the seriousness of this scandal, we call upon the Charity Commission to intervene.

 

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