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World News

Martyn Percy leaves the Church of England as he cites a 'parlous state of safeguarding' in the church

by Premier Journalist

Former dean of Christ Church Cathedral and Oxford University's Christ Church College, Martyn Percy, has announced he is leaving the Church of England.

Writing in Prospect Magazine, the senior cleric said the Church of England is an "unsafe place to work" and accused the institution of lacking "transparency, accountability, external scrutiny and, as far as I am concerned, integrity".

"The parlous state of safeguarding in the CoE has caused me to reflect deeply on the plight of victims and complainants, as well as the respondents who have been accused," he said. 

"In the face of such partisanship, failure to neutrally manage conflicts of interest, double standards and incompetence in the CoE's safeguarding, I finally took a decision: to leave the church."

"Though I have been ordained for more than 30 years, and continue with my faith in God, the Church of England has destroyed any trust I might have had in it. It is an unsafe place to work," he continued. 

Percy stepped down from his position as dean last month, following three years of investigations by the church's governing bodies into misconduct allegations against him. 

His dispute with the college began in 2018, after he was accused of "immoral, scandalous and disgraceful" behaviour but after a hearing in 2019, Percy was reinstated. 

But in 2020, the 71-year -old was hit with an allegation of sexual harassment which resulted in settlement in February this year with the college agreeing to pay him a "substantial sum" and reimburse his legal costs.

Now, as he announced he is leaving the Church of England, Percy said there was a "culture of bullying and harassment afflicting many clergy" in the church and accused the Church of England of spending tens of millions of pounds a year on safeguarding, "most of which is frittered away on procedures that seem cosmetically adequate, yet ultimately lack the professional standards one would find in other spheres".

Speaking to Premier, Most Rev Justin Welby said the Church of England is listening "very carefully to what Martin is saying". 

 "[The] former head of children's services, and a former Children's Commissioner, who heads the independent safeguarding board is going to do a really serious review of what happened particularly around what happened to Martin."

The Archbishop of Canterbury continued: "I can tell you, if you think safeguarding isn't a part of the state now or if he thinks it now you go back 10 years, it was an oversight was it's a long journey. We're making progress."

 A spokesperson for the Bishop of Oxford, Rt Rev Steven Croft, the church had gone to "considerable lengths to care for Martyn Percy"

He added: "This has been a complex and painful process for all concerned over the past two years, much of which has been inaccurately played out by supporters of Dr Percy in the media and online."

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