More on Jersey

Diocese of WinchesterI’ve spoken to sources inside Winchester Diocese who have helped to clarify one or two matters re the story below.

I can confirm that the Diocese of Winchester took legal advice from a senior QC with experience not only of English ecclesiastical law but also Jersey law before moving to suspend the Dean of Jersey. The line from the Diocese is that although the Letters Patent are issued by the Queen, once they have been issued the Dean is then a priest like any other under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Winchester (as are all clergy in Jersey for that matter). It was intimated to me that the situation is not dissimilar to that of a Cathedral – there is a great degree of independent action, but ultimately the Dean is responsible and accountable to the Bishop.

In the Diocese’s opinion the Dean’s ongoing authority to act in his office comes from his relationship with the Bishop, not the monarch. The Bishop (and the Archbishop by implication as he has endorsed Bishop Tim Dakin’s actions) would therefore not have acted in the manner he did unless he was first convinced that he had the ability and authority to do so. My source went as far as to say that “We are an episcopal church and we are episcopally led. There is no doubt that the Dean of Jersey has a Bishop to whom he is accountable to”.

There therefore appears to be a conflict of legal opinion between Jersey and Winchester which stems from the desire of the States to maintain as much independence as possible. As the Dean himself wrote in 2010 when offering an opinion on the power and independence of the Jersey States,

I am usually quite a passionate proponent of change in many areas of life, including the Church! However in the case of your lordship’s review I submit that some minor tweaks may be in order but that the basic system that has served the Island well and gently evolved over centuries be left in place. As I have come to realise in my ministry here, this is not the people’s republic of a small island off the French coast. It is Jersey; fiercely loyal the Crown and fiercely independent in its thinking and practice.

What appears to those on the mainland of England as a simple matter of the Bishop of a Diocese exercising his canonical duty of care over his clergy is being interpreted by some on the island of Jersey as an attack on the very way that the States operates as a “fiercely independent” jurisdiction under the Monarch. As the Bishop of Basingstoke meets the Clergy Chapter this morning (Tim Dakin the Bishop of Winchester has been delayed by the snow in Southampton), we should pray that a disagreement between friends and colleagues remains just that and does not spill over into a major constitutional crisis in Jersey.

5 Comments on “More on Jersey

  1. Reading what the Dean wrote makes it sound very petty on the part of the CofE in Jersey. They seem to be mixing up secular law with church law and assuming that they are close to a separate diocese. If they want that then they need to say so, vote on it and (assuming they get the right numbers) secede from the CofE whilst remaining in the Anglican communion. Then they can do things as they see fit but also live with the consequences of being separate.

    After all, how can they say they want the same benefits as they have historically had and not accept any of the responsibility that comes with it?

  2. The only people likely to make any noises about “constitutional crises” are those who want to create such things.

    Whether Jersey is fit to have the degree of independence it seeks – given that its legal system breaches human rights conventions, its parliamentary assembly is a travesty of democracy largely suborned by offshore finance, and its local government is feudal – is very much in question

  3. What is being completely overlooked is the apparent way, mentioned in the report, that a Magistrate summarily sent a woman who was destitute, vulnerable and obviously in need of care off the Island to England with no apparent thought as to the consequences. The name of the Magistrate is in the JEP of the time, it was reported upon, and I am informed is still a Relief Magistrate. I will not name him on an open comment, but a colleague of mine has been at the microfilm JEP. It was an appalling action. The Dean may have been criticised for inaction, but surely the Magistrate deserves in more for wholly inappropriate action. It begs the question as to whether the Magistrates receive any training in understanding autism or like conditions.

  4. The Revised Canon Law in Jersey (2012) says
    “No person who has been admitted to the order of bishop, priest, or deacon can ever be divested of the character of his order, but a minister may either by legal process voluntarily relinquish the exercise of his orders and use himself as a layman, or may by legal and canonical process be deprived of the exercise of his orders or deposed finally therefrom.”

    “According to the ancient law and usage of the Church of England, priests and deacons who have received authority to minister in Jersey owe canonical obedience in all things lawful and honest to the Bishop.”

    The sticky point is however:

    “After consultation with the Dean and, if the Minister so requests, the Ecclesiastical Court, the Bishop may by notice in writing revoke summarily, and without further process, any licence granted to any minister within the Island for any cause which appears to him to be good and reasonable after having given the minister sufficient opportunity of showing reason to the contrary and the notice shall notify the minister that he may, within twenty-eight days from the date on which he receives the notice, appeal to the Archbishop.”

    Difficult to consult with the Dean if he is the subject of such measure! Remarkable all the Canons dealing with clergy discipline have either the Dean acting or the Bishop and Dean; there is only one section dealing with complaints for misconduct, and that says:

    “Where a complaint is made under this section against the Dean his duties and functions shall in all respects be undertaken by the Vice President.”

  5. When the Canons were debated in the States of Jersey on 18.01.2011 the were questions asked about the Human Rights compliance of this legislation. Needless to say the government party ignored it. One hopes that such detail is not a mere nicety and that Dean and States Members pay more attention to such issues.

    The Hansard debate can be read here –,bcalcontent.bidxcontentlvl1:%22canon%22%29

    The government of Jersey is meanwhile wheeling out its own cannons to repel boarders.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.