Martyn Percy leaves Church of England after long row

Martin Percy.(Photo: Eleanor Sanger)

Former Christ Church dean Martyn Percy has announced his decision to leave the Church of England, calling it a “dangerous place to work”.

Percy was Dean of College and Cathedral at Oxford University until last month.

He agreed to step down from his post after a settlement was reached in February, ending a long-running dispute with the governing body over a backup complaint.

Talk to The temperature last weekend, Percy said the argument had pushed him to the brink of suicide and caused him a “pretty serious breakdown”, which he said was “largely triggered by” the bishop of Oxford.

He has just announced in the June edition of Perspective magazine that he must leave the Church of England altogether.

In his article, he said the Bishop of Oxford “has no accountability except to God,” and described a “culture of bullying and harassment that plagues many clergy.”

“Faced with… partisanship, the inability to neutrally manage conflicts of interest, double standards and incompetence in safeguarding the Council of Europe, I finally made a decision: to leave the ‘Church,’ he wrote.

“Although I have been ordained for over 30 years and continue my faith in God, the Church of England has destroyed any trust I may have had in them. It is a dangerous place to work.”

He said safeguarding in the Church of England was in a “precarious state” and millions were wasted on procedures that “lack the professional standards you would find in other spheres”.

He slammed “catastrophic mistakes” in handling other cases, including London priest Alan Griffin, who killed himself after unsubstantiated allegations of child abuse. The Church of England later admitted that its failures in handling the case “led to unreasonable pressure” on Griffin.

Percy, 59, condemned the current complaints system and said ‘the Church of England lacks transparency, accountability, external oversight and, as far as I’m concerned, integrity’.

“Abuse victims often wait years for an investigation or due process; someone accused of unspecified abuse may never work again,” he said.

“There are no corrective measures in place and there is no appeal mechanism. The CoE sets and grades its own homework and awards itself top marks.”

The Diocese of Oxford said in a statement: “The Bishop of Oxford and many others have gone to great lengths to care for Martyn in his four-year dispute with Christ Church and to ensure fair treatment for everyone involved.

“This included offering conversations about future ministry and a way to mark his departure.

“Much of what happened has been misrepresented by Martyn’s supporters in the media and online. Many people have been hurt and hurt by their campaigns.”

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