It had been suggested by the Dean’s supporters last March that the investigation is not about HG’s complaint but more to do with a “spat” between the Dean and Bishop Dakin and a power struggle between the
and Jersey hierarchy. Having been involved with the
matter since last March it is becoming evident that the Dean’s supporters are
correct and HG is again a victim of another cruel and serious mismanagement by
the Diocese of Winchester.
Dame Heather’s appointment was announced on 15th May but surprisingly no Terms of Reference were published. Questions were asked of her perceived conflict and of her relationship with Senator Sir Philip Bailhache who has played a leading role in supporting the Dean. Dame Heather was also to be assisted by a member of the States of Jersey Police who HG claims were less than professional when investigating her abuse allegation and later when they arrested her in her pyjamas, refused her bail which led to her being held her in custody for two weeks and then left destitute at a UK airport on a cold October evening when still in her pyjamas.
In May after reading several of my Blogs HG contacted me and we agreed that I would act as her mediator. HG now lives on the street and our only means of communication is via email and only when she is able to gain access to broadband at libraries etc. HG had been unaware of the Korris report and the Visitation. I contacted
informed him that I was in regular contact with HG and if he felt it helpful HG
would be prepared to see him provided I accompanied her. I was of the view that
she needed support not only during the Visitation process but also in her every
day life. Also steps should be taken for the public apologies to be given to HG
In early August Dame Heather’s TOR was published but it was unclear whether they included HG’s arrest and deportation. A few days later a large advert appeared in the JEP which gave the impression of having been paid for by the Dean’s supporters. It called on members of the public who had complaints about the Bishop of Winchester to submit them to Dame Heather.
To the best of my knowledge neither Dame Heather nor the Diocese has ever clarified the matter so there is a presumption that Dame Heather is supporting both camps. On 15th August I wrote to Dame Heather for the first time seeking clarification of the advert and whether her TOR included HG’s arrest and deportation. I also said that I wished to meet her. I wrote a further 6 times and copied in
Gladwin and eventually the Bishop’s Chaplain asking that they would forward my
emails to Dame Heather because I was not receiving replies.
Until I met Dame Heather last Thursday I had been of the belief that the Visitation and investigation was being conducted in a timely and coordinated manner and the left hand knew what the right hand was doing, but alas this is not case. Rev.Gavin Ashenden has publicly questioned Bishop Dakin’s handling of the Visitation and has called on him to apologise to the Dean and HG for the suffering they have endured as a result of it. I can understand where he is coming from.
It is now evident that Dame Heather was unaware of the June meeting with
John Gladwin or of the promised
support and line of communication. How can that be, that elementary mistake has
led to unnecessary hurt, delay and expense, none of which can be levelled at
In mid August Dame Heather emailed HG asking to meet and also instructed an Advocate to request her former Advocate to seek permission of HG for access to the police and court papers. I was not copied into Dame Heather’s email exchange but now know that HG objected to her participation on the grounds of perceived conflict. HG also saw the request for her documents as an intrusion by a person with whom she had no confidence, with a foot in both camps and as a betrayal of the
As mentioned above I continued sending emails to Dame Heather seeking clarification and requesting we meet but to no avail even though I copied them to
John Gladwin and the
Bishop’s Chaplain asking that my emails be forwarded to her. However on Friday
18th October in the late afternoon I received a phone call from Dame
Heather saying that she understood that I wished to see her. We had a lengthy
conversation and in summary she told me that her report was almost complete and
did not want to delay its submission to John
Gladwin. I asked how she could submit a report if she had not seen one of the
key witnesses to which she replied that HG had refused to meet her. I explained
the circumstance outlined above and it was eventually agreed that we would meet
on Thursday at Church House in London.
I said I would contact HG asking that she attend. I also asked for an
independent note taker because the promised notes of our June meeting had still
not been received and I wanted a record of our meeting.
I was able to make email contact with HG who agreed to attend and although without funds she said she would find her way to the meeting. Unfortunately due to travel difficulties she did not arrive. At Thursday’s meeting I asked that another date be arranged because there were extenuating circumstances as to why we had not met. Also although I had HG’s case papers, I would not release them without her consent. Dame Heather initially said that to arrange another meeting would incur further expense and she really wanted to complete her report because so many people were waiting for it. I asked what price justice and that the Korris report had been criticised because neither HG nor the Church Warden had been interviewed. I was surprised to hear Dame Heather say that she has not interviewed the Church Warden either.
Dame Heather clarified her TOR and that the arrest and removal issue were not included but she was addressing the matter at Bishop Dakin’s request, so one may ask why they were not in the TOR? What is without doubt is that Dame Heather does not believe that HG was arrested in her pyjamas, the police did not allow her to get dressed, that she twice attended court and was eventually left destitute in the
whilst still in her pyjamas. The arrest/deportation issue is clearly a major
embarrassment to Winchester so it
will be interesting to see how the issue is covered in Dame Heather’s report
given that she has refused to see HG or seen the case papers.
My meeting with Dame Heather lasted 3 hours, I asked that I be given a transcript of the meeting but was told that I could but only if I was prepared to pay for it. The meeting was tape recorded and I have asked both Dame Heather and Bishop Dakin for a copy of it. There was no independent note taker but notes were taken by Dame Heather who has sent them to me. They are simply notes which are sketchy and some of the writing is hard to decipher.
Dame Heather has made it clear that even though she has not seen HG or heard her evidence or read the documentation, she is adamant that nothing will be gained by seeing her now and thereby delaying her report. If she does not need to see HG why did she want to see her in the first place and why did she go to the expense of instructing Advocates to contact HG for the case papers?
I have written a lengthy letter to Bishop Dakin, not only for record purposes but to explain why I believe that Dame Heather has not satisfactorily conducted her investigation. I have said that the investigation should be impartial, it should expose what is wrong, commend what is right and make recommendations to ensure that when a highly vulnerable person is abused by a church officer, their complaint will be investigated without fear or favour and they do not end up at a UK airport in their pyjamas and left destitute.
There were gaps in the Korris report and lessons should have been learnt. However there will be gaps in Dame Heather’s report because lessons have not been learnt. The witnesses not seen by Korris have not been seen by Dame Heather how can that be?
It would be totally wrong to claim that HG refused to see Dame Heather because that is not the case. It is now Dame Heather who is refusing to see HG. It could be because Dame Heather has already reached her conclusions and does not want HG’s evidence in case she has to change them.
What is becoming abundantly clear is that the Visitation is a waste of time and money, the guilty will be found innocent and the innocent condemned. What sort of message is the Church of England sending out to the poor, needy and vulnerable members of our society?
Last Friday Dame Heather informed me that my emails had been traced. It is said that God moves in mysterious ways and now my emails have been traced but will He now ensure that we get an honest report or will it be a whitewash?