Christ Church settles dispute with Dr Martyn Percy

Christ Church has confirmed that the mediation process has been completed and a resolution has been reached.

Andrew Duke / Alamy

Church of Christ dean Dr Martyn Percy accepted a seven-figure sum and agreed to step down in settlement of a long-running contentious dispute which also saw all disciplinary charges against him dropped.

In a statement today, Christ Church said a mediation process was underway to try to resolve a number of outstanding issues between the Dean and the governing body, including an allegation of sexual harassment brought against the Dean.

“Christ Church can now confirm that the mediation process has been concluded and a resolution acceptable to all parties has been reached,” the statement said.

“The Dean has agreed to resign, voluntarily, from his role as Dean of Christ Church, and the person who made the allegation of sexual harassment against the Dean has agreed to settle his claim on terms which, at his request, are confidential.”

In addition, Christ Church will commission a comprehensive review of its sexual harassment policies and procedures within the next year by an independent expert.

The individual, known as X, who in 2020 filed a sexual harassment complaint against Dr Percy, said in a statement that the Dean had always denied the complaint and victimized them, including after they brought an action against him in the labor court.

The individual said: ‘I have to accept, with incredible reluctance, that it was my word against his that the incident took place. I am fully aware that this is a situation faced by many women who file sexual complaints. Unfortunately, the various processes that followed did not change this situation. However, I want to acknowledge that Christ Church, to their credit, has always supported my right to file this complaint.

“I know what I went through that day and I want to make sure that no other student or staff member goes through the ordeal I am going through.

“I am pleased that the Dean has agreed to step down from his role at Christ Church and, in return, I have agreed to settle my outstanding claims against him.”

The Bishop of Oxford, Dr Steven Croft, said a settlement had been agreed with the Dean and, separately, with the plaintiff.

“The complainant felt discredited and incredulous. The Dean felt hurt and isolated. The complaint and previous disputes have also been painful for the Cathedral Chapter, the Cathedral Congregation and many others. The settlement puts an end to a harmful period in the life of the cathedral and the college. There is a time and an opportunity now for grace and, in time, for a process of reconciliation and healing of relationships.

He said the college will seek to appoint an independent chair for a governance review proposed by the Charity Commission. The Diocese of Oxford and the Church of England will contribute to the review.

Both the Dean and the complainant have called for an independent review of the lessons learned from the processes followed by the Diocese and the Church of England nationally. The Council of Bishops has given its approval and we are seeking the support of the Council of Archbishops to have this commissioned jointly.

Dr Percy himself said in a statement posted on the Thinking Anglicans website: “Despite the trials and turmoil of the past four years, Christ Church will be sorely missed. It is a special place, and our family has been blessed with the great support and friendship of students, staff, congregation and colleagues during this time. These friendships and our gratitude will endure and remain. Our own faith in the constancy of God has been sustained and evidenced by the goodness, kindness and care that many have shown us, in spite of everything. We sincerely wish Christ Church well in the future, and hope and pray that the governance reforms will be both effective and welcome when implemented.

He added: “I can now retire and look forward to getting back to normal life with my wife Emma, ​​who has been such a rock of strength during this painful struggle. Although the past four years have often been trying, I have taken great comfort in the unwavering support of my colleagues, alumni and friends.

Jerry B. Hatch