The Governing Body of Christ Church Oxford has agreed to drop all charges and processes against the College’s Dean, the Very Rev Prof Martyn Percy. A settlement – including a substantial sum in compensation and the payment of the Dean’s outstanding legal fees – was endorsed by the GB at a meeting today (FRIDAY). The College has also agreed to an independently-led review of its governance.
As part of this settlement, Dr Percy will relinquish his position as Dean at the end of April.
Dr Percy said:
“Despite the trials and troubles over the last four years, we will miss Christ Church enormously. It is a special place, and our family have been blessed with great support and friendship from students, staff, congregation and colleagues over this time. Those friendships and our gratitude will endure and remain. Our own faith in the constancy of God has been sustaining, and evidenced by the goodness, kindness and care we have been shown by many, despite all else. We sincerely wish Christ Church well for the future, and will hope and pray that the governance reforms will be both effective and welcome when they are implemented.”
One colleague of Prof. Percy said: “We are relieved and pleased that Christ Church has finally agreed a reasonable settlement to a dispute which has riven the college, cost millions of pounds and caused untold distress, unhappiness and harm to those caught up in it. Christ Church appointed him as Dean in 2014 and it was soon clear that a proud and august institution needed crucial reforms to some of the ways in which it operated, including in respect of the welfare and safety of its students.
A small group of fellows – both past and present – disagreed and orchestrated a sustained and concerted campaign to oust him. That campaign took many forms and is reported to have cost many millions. Several expensive law firms and PR companies were deployed to denigrate, harrass and humiliate him. But every time an independent tribunal or individual examined the evidence they found against the College.
The easy thing for the Dean would have been to walk away. That would have been better for his mental health and for the wellbeing of his family. But others at the College implored him to stay until there was a guarantee of a thorough and independent review of the governance of the institution.
Today the College has finally agreed both a settlement to the dispute with him and to an independent review, the results of which will be reported to the Charity Commission, the ultimate regulator of Oxford and Cambridge colleges. This brings to an end all litigation and complaints, though various regulatory bodies will doubtless continue to look at what went wrong with the college governance, together with the actions of their advisers.”
The Dean added:
“I can now step aside, and look forward to resuming a normal life with my wife Emma, who has been such a rock of strength during this painful struggle.
While the past four years have often been harrowing, I have drawn great comfort from the unwavering support of colleagues, alumni and friends. I would like also to thank my legal advisers, both official and unofficial and Unite the Union, in particular the Unite Faith Workers Branch. A free, unfettered press has also succeeded in surfacing important truths in the face of legal threats and obstructions.
Christ Church has been around for nearly 500 years and I sincerely hope it flourishes for many centuries to come. I hope the independent review overseen by the Charity Commission will succeed. I sincerely hope that he same standards in public life we have come to expect of our most cherished national institutions – including integrity, transparency and accountability – will flourish and bear fruit here.”