Chronology of Actions Against Dean Martyn Percy: 2018-22

The use – or rather abuse – of these legal proceedings over this three year period was the work of a small group of dons at Christ Church, Oxford, and intended by the originators to cause the Dean significant personal, financial and reputational damage. In the period from 2018 to early 2022, the dons contrived to level a total of 41 separate charges, ranging from “immoral, scandalous or disgraceful conduct”, “mental incapacity” and the “persistent and wilful neglect of duty”. The dons took deliberate advantage of the Dean’s position – that he enjoys no legal or employment protection under the Statutes of the College.

None of these allegations had any basis in facts or fairness, and like all previous charges laid against the Dean, their motivation was rooted in malicious intent, with their purpose being to do as much damage and detriment as possible, irrespective of the consequences.  This is confirmed in Subject Access Requests, which include (infamous) emails that banter about various means of murdering the Dean. It is now confirmed by the Charity Commission that the dons engaged in this campaign spent at least £7m of charitable funds on this ‘project-managed-persecution’, and concealed these sums from colleagues, alumni, and the published accounts.

Additional funds were spent on PR actions against the Dean.  For any charity, this represents an abrogation of responsibility on the part of the trustees, a breach of their fiduciary duties and a failure of corporate and individual governance.

Outline of Allegations:

December 2016 Lavinia Woodward stabs her boyfriend; in the absence of welfare provision in the College that day, the Dean had to take charge of the case
December 2016 Lavinia Woodward stabs her boyfriend; in the absence of welfare provision in the College that day, the Dean had to take charge of the case
Early 2017 The Dean calls a meeting to clarify safeguarding procedures; asks for job descriptions of the College’s Censors
Summer 2017 Dean asks the College’s Salaries Board to review his salary, as well as those of two other College officers, one being the Treasurer
October 2017 David Hine, Senior ex-Censor, emails wider ex-Censors’ group, saying the Dean must be got rid of because he was making everyone miserable
Autumn 2017 Geraldine Johnson, new Junior Censor, expresses her worries about who was responsible for welfare and queried safeguarding training
Summer 2018 The Committee of ex-Censors orchestrate a series of meetings to undermine the Dean, paving the way to lay a complaint against the Dean of “immoral, scandalous or disgraceful” conduct
October 2018 Statute XXXIX Tribunal launched against the Dean for “immoral, scandalous or disgraceful conduct” and “wilful and persistent neglect of duty”. There are 27 charges. Dean suspended.
August 2019 Sir Andrew Smith “rejects all 27 charges” after an 11-day trial. Dean not refunded any of his defence costs. Dean reinstated.
December 2019 Governing Body passes secret ballot “vote of no confidence” without giving the Dean any chance to address the motion, and whilst he is on sick-leave
March 2020 Censors report Dean to the NST and Thames Valley Police over four historic “safeguarding concerns”. The College announces a number of safeguarding cases handled by the Dean were causing concern and had been passed to the Church of England’s National Safeguarding Team (NST). Dean not given advance notice of action.
April 2020 Gas-lighting, which began in 2018, on Dean’s mental health escalates, with Censors, ex-Censors and allies briefing that the Dean has issues of “mental incapacity” and can be removed under that statutory clause
April 2020 College’s Governing Body, including chief Cathedral Safeguarding Officer Graham Ward, writes to the Charity Commission, complaining the Dean has no “moral compass”; this leads to the Charity Commission requiring both parties to enter into meaningful mediation. It later emerges this letter was never sent to the Charity Commission and was instead simply used as propaganda against the Dean in the media.
June 2020 Winckworth Sherwood and Censors add a further “safeguarding concern” reporting Dean to NST and Thames Valley Police over Prof. Jan Joosten. Charity Commission mandates Christ Church to mediate.
September 2020 NST reports Dean has “acted correctly” in respect of all the safeguarding allegations. Thames Valley Police agree. Christ Church disputes the exoneration.
September 2020 Unite Barrister Sarah Fraser Butlin wins victories over the Christ Church barrister on the employment status of the Dean. The College continues to argue that the Dean has no legal rights as an employee or worker.
October 2020 A new “safeguarding allegation” is made. Dean suspended after Kate Wood’s “independent” investigation is overseen by persons with conflicts of interest and Winckworth Sherwood. The Dean was faced with a single allegation: of briefly touching the hair of a female employee. To address this, the following four concurrent legal processes were initiated: i. Police investigation – dismissed early December 2020; ii. Proceedings in the Clergy Discipline Measure – decision to dismiss made by the President of Tribunals in May 2021; iii. Investigation by NST concludes with no action recommended in June 2021; iv. A second Christ Church Statute XXXIX Part VII procedure begun.
October 2020 A preliminary hearing, following the Dean launching an Employment Tribunal case, reaches procedural findings in his favour.
November 2020 Christ Church initiates CDM, NST, Thames Valley Police and second Statute XXXIX proceedings.
December 2020 Thames Valley Police dismiss the allegation. There is no charge or arrest, following a thorough police investigation.
February 2021 Christ Church make another “safeguarding concern” allegation to NST and Diocese of Oxford, and also initiate one against the Dean’s wife (which is later added to with a second allegation). All of these are dismissed.
February 2021 The College commission President of Welsh Tribunals, Sir Wyn Williams, to give an opinion on whether or not it was legal and proportionate to prosecute the Dean again under Statute XXXIX for “immoral, scandalous or disgraceful conduct”. Christ Church seek to quell Charity Commission unease and alumni objections that a second Tribunal would be expensive and disproportionate. Williams concluded that “on the basis of the documents supplied … so far as he could tell, it might be possible …t o proceed with prosecution”. Sir Wyn Williams is not informed of the concurrent legal processes initiated by the College against the Dean, or of all the other previous attempts to remove the Dean. It is likely he might have revised his opinion had he known that the Dean was being deliberately exposed to the likelihood of an unlawful ‘double jeopardy’.
May 2021 CDM and NST exonerates Dean, with no censure, penalties or other disciplinary measures imposed. The case is dismissed and found to be neither “serious” nor “sexual” by the fourth most senior Court of Appeal Judge in England and Wales.
June 2021 Senior ex-Censor and allies begin advocating procedures for the removal of the Dean under Statute XXXIX Part IV – “mental incapacity”. Mediation terminated by Bill Marsh. College continues to litigate against the Dean.
November 2021 Charity Commission writes to Governing Body, requesting information of monies and authorisations in respect of the actions outlined above. Lawyers acting for Christ Church sack their client acting for them in the second Christ Church Statute XXXIX Part VII procedure when they learn that the proposed prosecution of the Dean rests on a set of false claims and premises. New lawyers appointed.
December 2021 The Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor write to Governing Body, requesting meeting to resolve ongoing dispute. Christ Church rejects this initiative, but after pressure from the Charity Commission is forced to accept a meeting.
January 2022 The Vice-Chancellor and Chancellor meet Christ Church dons, who remain implacably opposed to any settlement. The Treasurer asks for retrospective approval of £7m spent by dons on legal actions against the Dean. A small group of dons continue to pursue removing the Dean on grounds of “mental incapacity”. New lawyers for the College advise them of these costs (over £1m) and timeframe (most likely 2-3 years).
February 2022 The College agrees to pay the Dean compensation and refund his legal fees, and a total settlement of £1.3m (tax free) is confirmed. No non-disclosure agreement is imposed. The College agrees to pay an undisclosed amount (circa £50k?) to the complainant from October 2020 to settle her Employment Tribunal claim.
May 2022 Daily Telegraph interview makes allegations against the former Dean, with IPSO complaint following. IPSO rule that Daily Telegraph allegations are not fact-based or verifiable, and only represent one person’s opinion.
Currently: There are no outstanding allegations against Martyn. No other person has ever complained about harassment. Martyn Percy has been subjected to one of the worst cases of institutional abuse, but there have been no findings against him at any stage. The dons driving this campaign remain in post subject to ongoing Charity Commission investigations; a draft Official Warning to Christ Church was issued (July 2022) under Section 75A of the 2011 Charities Act.