Thursday, 16 May 2013
Jersey's Dean--Diocese of Winchester Press Release --Dame Heather Steel
The following Press Release was published yesterday afternoon and my comments are shown in red
THE DIOCESE OF WINCHESTER has today confirmed that Dame Heather Steel DBE is leading the investigation into a church safeguarding complaint from 2008, which was announced by the Bishop of Winchester on 26 March 2013. The Investigation is feeding into the Church inquiry (Visitation), currently being carried out by Bishop John Gladwin, to consider the wider implementation of safeguarding in Jersey and across the Diocese. Bishop Gladwin will be publishing his report on the Visitation later this year, providing recommendations for enhancing the Diocese’s safeguarding policies and procedures.
Dame Heather Steel DBE is a former Judge of the Court of Appeal in Jersey, having retired in 2012, and is a former High Court Judge in England and Wales (Queen’s Bench Division.) The investigation follows the independent Korris Review into Safeguarding in the Deanery of Jersey, published in March 2013, which considered the case of a vulnerable adult parishioner, who had made a complaint about abusive behaviour by a churchwarden. The Investigation will now make further inquiries, find facts and make recommendations about whether or not disciplinary complaints should be brought against any member of the clergy as a result of the matters raised in the Korris Review.
The complaint against the Church Warden was made by HG to the Dean in July 2008. She later made complaints against the Dean, former Bishop of Winchester, and the Safeguarding Officer, Jane Fisher will those complaints be investigated?
As a result of the Jersey and Winchester clergy’s failure to respond to HG’s complaints in an efficient manner, her frustration in seeking redress eventually led to her being arrested and “removed” from the Island and left destitute in the UK. Will the decsion and manner of these actions be investigated? (See Korris Report page 41) Also see my previous Blog Here.
The Bishop of Winchester, the Rt Rev Tim Dakin, said, “We are enormously grateful that Dame Heather has offered her considerable expertise to us all. As I have said before, we cannot stress enough the importance of safeguarding. We are committed to understanding fully the circumstances of this complaint and to ensuring that we take whatever action is required to ensure that our Church is a safe haven for the vulnerable.”
“I am also grateful for the cooperation of the Dean in these matters, following his recent apology. As he has said, together we recognise the importance of safeguarding children and vulnerable adults in Jersey and we want to ensure the safeguarding procedures of the Diocese achieve this as part of the whole Church's mission. These ongoing inquiries will form a vital part of our learning."
There should be no reasons as to why the Dean should not cooperate because he is also a key player, but like Bishop Dakin and the Archbishop of Canterbury he has not apologised to HG, so it questions their integrity and recognition of the importance of safeguarding vulnerable adults in Jersey or elsewhere in the UK. HG says she has not received any apology and I can see no reason to disbelieve her.
The Investigation will gather and review all available and relevant evidence including, but not limited to, that considered by the Korris Review. Dame Heather Steel will also be advised and assisted in her inquiries by a police officer, nominated by the States of Jersey Police.
Although Jan Korris published a 50 page Report it was somewhat devalued by the author’s failure to interview HG who is the key witness to the whole sorry affair.
Winchester must be aware that its Safeguarding policy is in tatters, this is evident by its failure to handle HG’s original complaint and the debacle that followed. The Korris Review is a disturbing report about failings in Jersey. So too is John Gladwin’s interim and recent final report on his Chichester Visitation where considerable failings were identified.
Surely Bishop Dakin must be aware of the Jersey and UK Police involvement with HG’s complaint, so one must ask why Dame Steel is going to be advised and assisted by a police officer, nominated by the States of Jersey Police.
I am not casting any aspersions on the police officer who is to be nominated, but because of its involvement with HG the States Police is conflicted. If Dame Steel, the Diocese of Winchester and the States Police cannot see the conflict then one must question their judgement and whether they are suitably qualified to conduct the investigation.
Those who have been following the Dean Affair are aware that there are hidden agendas, the latest press release just adds to that belief. Given the way that HG has suffered at the hands of Winchester and the police any likelihood of her partaking in the John Gladwin review was remote. The latest press release will almost certainly be read with incredulity not only by HG but those who have little or no confidence in Winchester. This can only be good news for Senator Bailhache and his supporters who are seeking a constitutional break from the UK.