The Christ Church Papers: Exoneration of Dean revealed

Pieter Garicano, Charlie Hancock, and Estelle Atkinson report.

Cherwell has obtained a copy of the decision on the allegation of sexual misconduct against the Very Rev Martyn Percy, Dean of Christ Church. Dame Sarah Asplin, judge of the Court of Appeal of England and Wales, concluded: “it is entirely disproportionate that this matter should be referred to a tribunal.” The decision – which was never made publicly available – cleared the Dean on the 28th of May last year.

The Dean had been accused of sexual misconduct, after an incident which occured at approximately midday on the 4th of October, 2020. It was alleged that the Dean briefly stroked and commented on the hair of an unidentified woman, an allegation Percy denies.

Initially, the incident was examined by an internal college investigator, until Canon Graham Ward, Professor of Divinity at Christ Church College, reported the allegation on the 5th of November 2020 – over a month later. The complaint was made under the Clergy Discipline Measure – a separate system of adjudication unique to the Church of England. An investigation was triggered, leading to this decision, which examines whether or not the case was worthy of consideration by a full disciplinary tribunal.

The judge in this case, Dame Sarah Asplin, has served on the Court of Appeal since 2017. Appointed a Dame Commander of the British Empire in 2013, she also serves as the Chair of the Church of England’s Clergy Discipline Commission and President of its Tribunal. It is in the latter capacities that she prepared this decision.

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