04 February 2022, The Tablet

Christ Church settles dispute with Dr Martyn Percy

The dean has agreed to step down, voluntarily, from his role as Dean of Christ Church.

Christ Church settles dispute with Dr Martyn Percy

Christ Church confirmed that the mediation process has been concluded and that a resolution has been reached.
Andrew Duke / Alamy

The Dean of Christ Church Dr Martyn Percy has accepted a seven-figure sum and agreed to step down in settlement of a long-running controversial dispute that has also seen all disciplinary charges against him dropped. 

In a statement today, Christ Church said that a process of mediation has been taking place to try to resolve a number of outstanding issues between the dean and the governing body, including an allegation of sexual harassment made against the dean.   

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

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

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

The individual, known as X, who in 2020 brought a claim of sexual harassment against Dr Percy, said in a statement that the dean had always denied the claim and that he victimised them including after they brought employment tribunal proceedings against him.  

The individual said: “I have to accept, incredibly reluctantly, that it is my word against his that the incident took place. I am acutely aware that this is a situation faced by many women who bring complaints of a sexual nature. Sadly, the various processes that have followed have not altered this situation. However, I want to acknowledge that Christ Church, to their credit, has always supported my right to make this complaint. 

“I know what I experienced on that day and I want to ensure that no other student or member of staff has to go through the ordeal that I have. 

“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.” 


In this week’s print edition of The Tablet:

The chancellor of the university has lamented the damage caused by the bitter dispute between the Dean of Christ Church and the governing body. In this personal reflection, Angela Tilby, a former member of the cathedral Chapter recalls what she felt lay hidden under a veneer of friendliness and charm


Bishop of Oxford Dr Steven Croft said a settlement had been agreed with the dean and, separately, with the complainant.

“The complainant has felt discredited and disbelieved. The dean has felt hurt and isolated. The complaint and previous disputes have also been painful for cathedral chapter, the congregation of the cathedral and many others. The settlement brings to an end a damaging period in the life of the cathedral and the college. There is a moment and opportunity now for grace and, over 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 requested an independent lessons learned review of the processes followed by the Diocese and the Church of England nationally. The Bishop’s Council have agreed to this and we are seeking the support of the Archbishops’ Council for this to be jointly commissioned.

Dr Percy himself said in a statement published on the Thinking Anglicans website: “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.”

He 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.”

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