Friday, 31 May 2013
Jersey's Dean----- Red Letter Day?????
After a lull in letter writing there appears to have been a sudden two pronged surge questioning the need and cost of the investigation into the Dean’s handling of HG’s abuse allegation and the Church of England's Safeguarding Policy.
Last Friday 24th May the JEP published a letter from Jennifer Ahluwalia which claimed that given the cost and damage, Bishop Dakin has a lot to answer for. On Tuesday 28th May the JEP published another letter in which the author Bruce Willing included 20 questions which he had sent to Bishop Dakin.
What is interesting is how the original issue of the mishandling of an abuse complaint along with Safeguarding issues is becoming secondary to what now seems to be a Constitutional issue. In neither letters do the authors express sympathy for HG for the abuse suffered at the hands of the original abuser nor as a result of the Church of England’s subsequent actions for which the Dean, Bishop and Archbishop have all issued public apologies, but to date have failed to apologise to HG personally.
In my previous Blogs I have questioned the Dean and the former Bishop's handling of what should have been a straight forward complaint. However what has followed has done very little to instill any confidence in the Church as a whole and the hole is getting deeper.
I don’t have a problem with Bruce Willing’s questions (which can be seen below) but it is the timing and the motive that is questionable. In previous Blogs I have said that I could not understand why the Dean was suspended before any framework had been assembled to conduct the Visitation/Investigation. The details of the panel along with its Terms of Reference and predicted date of completion should have been published at the time the Dean was suspended. Bruce Willing is right to question the tardiness and procrastination but that is now history as the wheels are now slowly beginning to turn.
Very importantly what appears to have been forgotten is that the Dean when apologising for his mistakes is reported as saying “If Christians can’t put things like this behind them and move on then we are all in a mess.” He pledged to co-operate with the investigation (JEP 29/4/2013) so why the letters and late questions if the Dean is taking part in the Investigation?
Above I mentioned the word motive, is the motive behind the letters to brush aside the investigation, and if so why? Jersey has a poor record when it comes to investigating abuse or other sensitive matters, but whilst it concerns Jersey, the Dean Affair is a Winchester matter but it is clearly of concern to those who like to do things the Jersey Way and don’t like “ outside interference” no matter how warranted.
Senator Bailhache, the Dean's knight in shining armour is organising a public meeting next week to discuss "the crisis in the Diocese." Given the Senator's involvement in the matter one may ask is the crisis of his making?
The Investigation/Visitation is being conducted at the instigation and expense of the Diocese of Winchester via the Bishop. He is of the view that there are Safeguarding and accountability issues which are too great to be ignored. While some contents in the Korris Report have been criticised there are issues, which for the Anglican Church in Jersey’s own credibility needs to be addressed. Although I have been critical of Bishop Dakin’s handling of the suspension and tardiness in establishing the Investigation, he is never the less right to conduct it in a timely, orderly and financially prudent manner.
Yesterday the JEP kindly published my letter which is in response to Jennifer Ahluwalia’s mentioned above. I am mindful of the many readers from outside the Island who do not receive the newspaper so for their benefit I publish both letters.
"Given the cost and damage, the Bishop has a lot to answer for."
• From Jennifer Ahluwalia.
As a long-standing member of the Church of England, I have serious concerns about the situation between the Bishop of Winchester, Dean of Jersey and the Anglican Church of Jersey.
This long-standing affair began in Jersey in August 2008 and is covered in the Korris Review, the conclusions of which seem to have been laid down before it was published. I do hope that will not be the case with the Dame Heather Steel inquiry And why was either inquiry necessary? Should the Bishop not have discussed his concerns with the Dean before suspending him, and why did he refuse to discuss this omission in the BBC Radio Jersey interview on 12 April?
The complainant, a vulnerable young woman (referred to as 'HG' in the Korris Review), had unwisely accepted an invitation to stay with a churchwarden and his family against advice. She was offended by some words and/or gestures of her host and made a complaint to the Anglican Church in Jersey.
The Dean interviewed the accused churchwarden and HG. The Dean's wife acted as a chaperone and witness. Admittedly, it would have been wiser to have had an unrelated witness and the Dean should have made full notes.
Quite properly, the Dean referred this sensitive case to the police, who took no further action because of insufficient evidence. So the case was dropped, but kept on file, and HG withdrew the complaint. In spite of the Dean's suggestions, HG refused to renew the complaints to the church. The churchwarden was asked to stand down temporarily. Then HG became dissatisfied with the Dean's handling of the matter and complained to the then Bishop of Winchester and he discussed it with the Dean. In former years, she had made similar accusations in Guernsey and twice in the Diocese of Winchester.
As the author of the Korris Report failed to interview the complainant, how could it have been accepted? With his commitment to safeguarding, how does the Bishop justify breaching confidentiality in this sensitive case by putting the Korris Report on the internet, without HG's permission, thereby exposing her very private problems to the public? It is not true that the young woman was deported, as stated in the Korris Review. As Sir Philip Bailhache has pointed out, her behaviour led to court charges, she had lost her job and accommodation in Jersey and, as suggested by her advocate, agreed to leave the Island for three years. How can this and other inaccurate statements in the Korris Report be rectified?
Christians should look after their staff. There seems to have been a total lack of concern for them. Has anyone of the Bishop's staff considered the considerable strain that these five years - dealing with the complaint, even though it was not pursued, negotiating and being investigated, as well as keeping up with their other work- have imposed on the Dean and others caught up in this mess?
And has the Bishop realised the damage that he is causing the Anglican Church in Jersey How can that be alleviated? Who is going to pay for all this? I understand that two reports, two sets of lawyers, a PR firm in London employed by the Bishop, the travel costs from Winchester to Jersey and to London for the Bishop and his advisory team, etc, will cost between £500,000 and £1 million. Are we, through the Jersey quota from its Anglican Churches? Finally, how can the reputation and integrity of the Anglican Church of Jersey be saved?
The Bishop seems determined to eradicate centuries- old laws and grind Jersey under his heel. Are the Ecclesiastical Court and the States of Jersey willing and determined to fight and, if necessary, secede from the Diocese of Winchester?
Below is the letter I submitted to the JEP and published yesterday for which I am grateful and accept that the Editor reserves the right to amend the author's letter. This has occurred and below is a copy of the letter it published and what was omitted is in red.
I was amused to read the headline “Given the cost and damage, the Bishop has a lot to answer for” which preceded Jennifer Ahluwalia’s letter published on Friday 24th May. Those who have closely followed the Dean affair would certainly question whether the current Bishop is the only person who has a lot to answer for. The author rightly describes the situation as a mess but there is little else in her letter I can agree with because it contains many inaccuracies.
I am in regular contact with the lady referred to in the Korris report as HG and have read the relevant background documents. While the Dean’s supporters are entitled to campaign on his behalf it is unfortunate that they appear do so at the expense of HG’s who is very much the forgotten victim, without a voice and still waiting for the Dean, Bishop and Archbishop’s apology.
The author criticises Jan Korris for failing to interview HG but she too has failed to do so hence the inaccuracies, in fact one wonders where she obtained her information.
It is not disputed that HG made a complaint about the Church Warden but it was never withdrawn as claimed by the author. How ever it was the events that followed that led to further complaints against the Dean, the former Bishop and Safeguarding Officer which is now subject to the Visitation/Investigation.
Ms Ahluwalia states that HG unwisely accepted an invitation to stay with a churchwarden and family against advice. This is news to HG but it does suggest that the officer concerned was not above suspicion yet was able to continue in office. Malicious mischievous and unsubstantiated rumours have constantly been spread about HG making similar accusations in the UK and now Guernsey. Where did the author obtain that information and why did she not substantiate it? Even if the allegation was true does being a victim of one abuse deny the right of any victim complaining if they are unfortunate to become a victim a second or more times.
Your correspondent takes Korris to task by stating that HG was deported when according to the author, who is relying on information provided by Senator Bailhache, HG had lost her job and her accommodation and as suggested by her Advocate agreed to leave the Island for three years. Again this information is incorrect. HG had just risen from her bed and preparing to assist at a charity event when police called at her home at 9am on Sunday 26th September 2010 and arrested her on suspicion of harassment. She was in full employment and when pleading for bail stated that if kept in custody she might lose her job.
Unfortunately HG never returned to her home or employment because she was charged at the behest of the Dean and former Bishop, held in custody at the police station overnight and after appearing at the Magistrates Court was remanded in custody for two weeks. It was then that she was bound over to leave the Island for three years. She was not a high risk terrorist but a harmless soul whom it is alleged had threatened to disrupt a church service to be conducted by the Dean and Bishop because they would not address her complaints.
If the author had read the report written by HG’s legal adviser before her second court appearance, she would have seen that HG was happy to stay in Jersey as she liked doing things here and had friends in the Island. When she was sentenced she was detained in a court cell until driven by police to the airport and put on a plane which deposited her in the UK in the dark and destitute. She was not even allowed to collect any of her personal items which were in her flat. When the Nazis deported Jersey’s deportees at least they were able to pack a suitcase, but this was denied of HG.
HG’s arrest, detention, trial and deportation is a travesty of justice which should be the subject of an investigation but the Chief Minister has repeatedly ignored my requests.
Your correspondent has stated that Christians should look after their staff and asks whether anyone has considered the strain the Dean has had to endure for the past 5 years. That is a good point but she makes no reference to Christians considering the strain the now homeless HG has had and still has to endure.
Concerns have been raised about the damage along with the cost the Bishop is causing the Anglican Church in Jersey, but surely the damage and cost would be far greater to the Church’s integrity and reputation if the Bishop turned a blind eye and shoved the matter under the carpet. Or is that what the author is suggesting? She asks how the reputation and integrity of the Anglican Church of Jersey can be saved. Then claims that the Bishop seems determined to eradicate centuries old laws and grind Jersey under his heel.
If retaining centuries old laws allows for allegations of abuse to be swept under the carpet then surely no true Christian should object nor count the cost of replacing outdated centuries old laws with modern fit for purpose laws under which justice is not only done but seen to be done.
The Bruce Willing questions are as follows:
1. Please explain the sequence of actions leading to your decision to commission the Korris Review into a complaint made by a woman (HG) against a churchwarden (no longer in office) and resolved by the Dean nearly five years ago.
2. Why were the terms of reference not discussed with the Dean, The Bailiff of Jersey and the Attorney General (AG) of Jersey prior to the start of the Review?
3. Are you aware of the oath of office sworn by the Dean in the Royal Court of Jersey on appointment as Dean of Jersey? If so, why did you not acknowledge this in your Press release on 8 March 2013 announcing the suspension from office of the Dean, when you knew, or ought to have known, that you had no power to suspend the Dean?
4. Were you aware of the context of the passing into law of the Jersey Canons in March 2012 and the differences that exist between the Jersey Canons 2012 and the Anglican Church Canons 1969 (as amended) on which the Jersey Canons are based?
5. Why was the previous reported behaviour of HG, in two separate Parishes of the Diocese of Winchester, both of which were known about by the Diocesan Safeguarding Officer, not investigated and reported on as a part of the Korris Review? It is mentioned on page 35 of the Review.
6. Page 40 of the Korris Review states: It is debatable whether, once the police case had been settled, this remained a Safeguarding issue. As soon as H.G. began to make complaints against Officers of the Church in December 2008 it may have been helpful for the task of investigating this to have changed hands. If this is a conclusion, why did the Review happen at all?
7. Why does the Korris Review compare the Jersey situation to the Butler-Sloss Report of 2011, when the core issue there was a paedophile ring being operated by clergy in the Diocese between 1970 and 1984, and having no connection with the alleged procedural failures of the handling of the HG case in Jersey between August 2008 and October 2010?
The Dame Heather Steel Investigation.
8. On 8 March 2013 you announced I have now ordered an immediate and thorough investigation. We are now 70+ days after your announcement, yet the investigation has not started and Korris (Page 12) criticised the Dean for a 45-day delay. Why are different rules being applied?
9. Have you agreed the Terms of Reference (TOR) of the Investigation with the authorities in Jersey? (The Bailiff, Lieutenant Governor and AG) If so, why are they being kept secret?
10. How will the laity have an opportunity to submit evidence and comment to the Investigation?
The Bishop Gladwin Visitation.
11. Given that the constitutional relations between the Island and Diocese are in question, were the TOR for the Visitation agreed with the Dean, Bailiff, and AG of Jersey before they were announced; if not, why not?
12. Now that you understand the legal position regarding Jersey and the Jersey Canons, will you abandon paragraph 3a of the TOR that seeks to question the validity and relevance of Jersey Canon Law 2012 that was so recently adopted by the States and approved by the Privy Council?
13. How is Bishop Gladwin to be orientated on the legal, social and economic situation in Jersey before starting his Visitation?
14. How much has the Korris Review and subsequent actions, including travel and accommodation, legal advice, press releases, the preparations for the Investigation and Visitation cost to date?
15. What are the budgeted costs of the Investigation and Visitation?
16. Given the Dioceses declared economic difficulties, where are the funds for the Korris Review and subsequent actions coming from?
17. Specifically, what is the budgeted cost of the employment of Luther Pendragon, PR Consultants, in relation to this dispute, given that there appears to be a team of three consultants available to the Diocese around the clock?
18. Do you recognise that you unfairly traduced the Dean in your message to the Islands Anglican clergy of 8 March 2013?
19. Do you recognise the hurt you have caused to the Key family, not just through the Korris Review, but through your suspension of Daphne Key from her employment as PA to the Dean, and your instruction to the Dean at the time of his suspension, banning him from speaking to his own clergy in clear breach of his human rights?
20. How do you think you will ever repair the substantial damage to your ministry in Jersey as our Bishop?