Jer­sey se­na­tor launches at­tack against Bishop

The Church of England - - FRONT PAGE - By Ge­orge Con­ger

A SE­NIOR Jer­sey po­lit­i­cal leader has writ­ten to the Arch­bishop of Can­ter­bury ac­cus­ing the Church of Eng­land of sup­press­ing a re­port that may doc­u­ment mis­con­duct by the Bishop of Winch­ester.

In a sharply worded let­ter dated 2 Novem­ber, Sir Philip Bailache, a Se­na­tor in the Jer­sey States As­sem­bly, called upon Arch­bishop Justin Welby to hon­our the man­date given to for­mer High Court Judge Dame Heather Steel and release her find­ings into abuse al­le­ga­tions made against the Dean of Jer­sey and the sub­se­quent re­sponse by the bishop and dio­cese.

On 8 March 2013 the Rt Rev Tim Dakin, Bishop of Winch­ester, sus­pended the Very Rev Robert Key, fol­low­ing an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into a safe­guard­ing com­plaint made by an adult woman, known as “HG”, who ac­cused the dean of not re­spond­ing ap­pro­pri­ately to her com­plaints that a lay leader had acted in­ap­pro­pri­ately to­wards her.

Sir Philip re­minded Arch­bishop Welby that he had writ­ten to him on 26 March 2013 rais­ing ques­tions about the fairness of the ini­tial in­quiry, not­ing Dean Key had not been given the op­por­tu­nity to re­spond to the crit­i­cisms be­fore he had been sus­pended.

Bishop Dakin re­in­stated Dean Key on 28 April 2013 and the par­ties agreed that Dame Heather Steel be em­pow­ered to ex­am­ine the deaner­ies’ safe­guard­ing pro­ce­dures, and whether any dis­ci­plinary com­plaints should be ini­ti­ated against mem­bers of the clergy.

Dame Heather gave a draft of her re­port to the dio­cese in Novem­ber 2013, prompt­ing a 22 Novem­ber 2013 press release from the dio­cese stat­ing that no ac­tion would be taken against any Jer­sey clergy. How­ever, Bishop Dakin noted: “I am all too con­scious that ques­tions re­main about safe­guard­ing best prac­tice.”

This state­ment, Sir Philip charged, left a “cloud hang­ing over the con­duct of the church in Jer­sey.”

He fur­ther stated that when the fi­nal re­port was given by Dame Heather to the bishop on 15 Au­gust 2014 no copy was given to the Jer­sey gov­ern­ment, as had been stip­u­lated in the in­quiry’s terms of ref­er­ence.

This “re­fusal by the Bishop of Winch­ester to com­ply with his obli­ga­tion” to pass on copies to the dean and is­land gov­ern­ment had left the “Angli­can Church in Jer­sey in limbo,” he said.

“Re­gret­tably, I am driven to the con­clu­sion that the Bishop wishes to sup­press the re­port which may be em­bar­rass­ing and in­di­cate a lack of good judge­ment on his part,” Sir Philip stated, adding that he be­lieved the bishop’s ac­tions were “ill-judged, pre­cip­i­tate, un­nec­es­sary and con­trary to the prin­ci­ples of nat­u­ral jus­tice.”

“I can­not imag­ine that the Church of Eng­land would so ca­su­ally bury the re­port of a dis­tin­guished High Court judge on a mat­ter of pub­lic im­por­tance in the UK,” he said not­ing that he was “afraid that, un­less the net­tle is firmly grasped in the near fu­ture, ir­repara­ble dam­age will be caused to the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the Church of Eng­land and the church in Jer­sey.”

The Arch­bishop of Can­ter­bury’s of­fice did not re­spond to re­quests for com­ments on the ac­cu­sa­tions.

A spokesman for the Bishop of Winch­ester told The Church of Eng­land News­pa­per: “The Re­port, com­mis­sioned by the Bishop of Winch­ester, into the han­dling of a safe­guard­ing com­plaint made in Jer­sey in 2009 is cur­rently be­ing re­viewed by le­gal and safe­guard­ing ex­perts. Its pub­li­ca­tion is the sub­ject of le­gal ac­tion lodged with Winch­ester County Court. The Bishop re­quires the Court’s con­sent prior to any dis­tri­bu­tion of the Re­port and all par­ties in­volved are aware of this fact.”

The orig­i­nal com­plainant in the case, “HG”, on 6 Novem­ber 2015 sent an email to 15 Jer­sey po­lit­i­cal lead­ers, safe­guard­ing agen­cies and jour­nal­ists ac­cus­ing Sir Philip of seek­ing to “de­stroy me again”.

She ex­pressed anger of the States’ han­dling of the is­sue, writ­ing: “Jer­sey looks from the out­side like a lawless un­governed and cor­rupt minia­ture version of North Korea, and ac­tu­ally I be­lieve North Korea ac­tu­ally has a real gov­ern­ment and ac­cord­ing to re­ports, it’s peo­ple are happy, while Jer­sey grows more and more weary and mis­er­able …”

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