Monday 17 June 2013
Jersey's Dean--------Meaningless Apologies
The people concerned are the Dean of Jersey, the former Bishop and Jane Fisher the Diocesan’s Safeguarding Officer. Public apologies have been given to HG by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the present Dean of Winchester Tim Dakin and more recently the Dean following his reinstatement. However it now unclear whether the apologies are genuine or just a flag waving exercise?
Way back in March the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby said:” The Bishop of Winchester's swift, decisive and wholly necessary actions following his receipt of this report are to be commended. I too wish to add my own personal apologies to the young woman who was so badly let down by those she had turned to for help and I wholeheartedly support the investigation that the Bishop has launched. He must receive full cooperation from all involved.
Following the Dean’s reinstatement in April he said: “I regret mistakes that I made in the safeguarding processes and I understand that, upon reflection, it would have been more helpful if I had co-operated more fully with the Korris Review. I now add my own apology to that of the Bishop of Winchester and Archbishop of Canterbury to the vulnerable person at the heart of this matter.”
I have always maintained that unless the apologies are given personally they are meaningless. However it is now highly questionable whether they were apologies at all and my reasons are as follows.
Although John Gladwin will begin his investigation in Jersey today, last Tuesday in London I accompanied HG to a meeting with him and fellow Panel member Christine Daly. Prior to the meeting I had written to the Archbishop via his personal assistant Christopher Smith stating that as HG would be in London it would be an ideal opportunity for the Archbishop, if free to personally apologise to her and also offer some tangible support now that the Church of England had made her destitute. Regretfully my email was neither acted upon nor even acknowledged.
Yesterday morning on the BBC Radio Jersey Chris Stone programme in his interview with the Dean, Chris said that as he had issued a public apology to HG along with the Archbishop and Bishop Dean why had he not apologised personally and what steps had he taken to do so? (please see comment below)
It was clearly an uncomfortable question which caused the Dean to think carefully for an answer. In summary he said that the public statement was a result of several drafts and the apology was for administrative mistakes. He had not been asked nor had it been suggested and indeed he did not know if in doing so it would be most helpful to apologise to HG. He and the Bishops would have to think most carefully when all the facts had emerged and the clouds in the sky had been removed.
So it would appear that apologies offered by the most senior leaders of the Church of England have to be carefully drafted, no doubt by PR companies which are only intended to be favourable media sound bites and nothing else. In my book that is dishonest, disingenuous and most unbecoming of anyone let alone church leaders who are supposed to be God's representatives.
In his "apology" the Archbishop said that HG was so badly let down, that is very much an understatement. Last Tuesday before John Gladwin and Christine Daly HG was able to give an account of how she was not only a victim of abuse by a Church Warden but also a victim of abuse of process by those charged with handling her complaint. As if that was not bad enough her arrest, detention and deportation would not have occurred had the Dean and former Bishop called on the plethora of specialist in social care to assist them rather than sign the relevant police documents which conveniently removed her out of Jersey to become destitute in the UK.
I am sure that John Gladwin, Christine Daly and Archdeacon Norman Russell will make good use of their first visit to Jersey. Not only will they have to untangled the mess but also learn of the “Jersey Way” which protects the guilty and marginalises those who like HG are brave enough to put their head above the parapet.
I am grateful to BBC Radio Jersey for providing the link to the Dean's interview and complement Chris Stone on manner in which he conducted the interview.
Please press HERE for the interview.