Complaints Laid against Bishop of Winchester

The BBC in Jersey has the report.

Bishop Tim DakinTwo complaints have been lodged against the Bishop of Winchester over how he dealt with the Anglican Church in Jersey, the BBC understands.

The Channel Islands split from the Diocese of Winchester in January after relations broke down between Bishop Tim Dakin and Jersey’s Dean, the Very Reverend Robert Key.

It stemmed from a dispute how abuse complaints were handled.

The Diocese of Winchester said it was not aware of any official complaints.

BBC Radio Jersey understands two formal complaints are being investigated by the registrar of the Archbishop of York after they were referred to the York Diocese by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby.

The first complaint is understood to allege that Bishop Dakin instructed the Dean of Jersey to follow church law over state law and the second concerns claims of a lack of accountability.

After the split, Bishop Dakin handed temporary oversight of the islands to the Bishop of Dover Trevor Wilmott, who is based in the Diocese of Canterbury.

The Archbishop of Canterbury previously told the BBC he had full confidence in Bishop Dakin.

He also said a special commission was to look at the relationship between the Channel Islands and Winchester after the split.

I understand that one of the complaints has been made by a lay member, but the other is much more serious and comes from a senior figure in the island’s ecclesiastical legal establishment and therefore carries a great deal of weight with it.

Interesting that they’ve been made public at this point.

20 Comments on “Complaints Laid against Bishop of Winchester

      • There’s not very much that is nice or defensible about Jersey and its politics – or their society.

        • I described it on the radio as “a feudal oligarchy with broadband”, but despite its many faults that doesn’t give the Bishop of Winchester the right to trample over due process and canon law (as is alleged).

          • Let’s see if there is any substance to the complaint, or whether the dull and witless way that the Dean handled things proves that the Bishop of Winchester had to take action against an obdurate island where abuse denial is a way of life.

        • I am a native of Jersey and a member of the local church who is working to care for and support those who have been hurt by both ‘the Island system’ and by the ongoing fall-out from the ‘breakdown in relations between the Bishop and the Dean’ (as the BBC put it).

          The Island does indeed have many faults – I wrestle with them daily, alongside others who are personally affected by them.

          But, Pete, your disinterested comments from a distance are both hurtful and unhelpful.

          • Don’t you think that the reason why Jersey and its culture is so difficult to change is because there is a conspiracy of silence – and that anyone trying to change it is silenced? How would you suggest that “the Island system” can ever be challenged and made accountable?

            • It’s very clear there are powerful forces at play in Jersey, but to simply label anyone whose actions you don’t like as “freemasons” (I have it on good authority both complainants are very much *not* freemasons) is to both look for conspiracy theories when none exist AND to engage in ad hominem as a form of response to a genuine legal complaint.


              • The Freemasonry thing was a quip – Jersey is well known for being in the grip of Freemasonry. It’s pretty clear that the Haut de la Garenne investigations were impeded by person or persons unknown. The Police there are constantly criticised for partiality. And it’s not easy to see how the vested interests who protect the tax haven will be amenable to change. Whether freemasonry plays a part in keeping the island the way it is I’m sure we shall never know!
                Whether any of this affects their desire not to opt into various canons and measures of the Church of England, including the CDM, is also a matter for conjecture.

                • It’s still a quip that is personal and needs to be withdrawn.

                  I understand entirely the issue around whether Jersey should be subject to English Canon Law (at present it has it’s own), let alone the CDM process (though it does have its own process through the Ecclesiastical Court of Jersey). I guess the complication arises because (i) the Church of England in Jersey is the state church in that country in the same way that the Church of England is in England, (ii) the historical framework of the statutory position of the Church of England in Jersey rests in a different constitutional framework to the Church of England in England. Those two things need to be untangled carefully in order to understand how the historic relationship between the Bailiwick and Winchester Diocese (and the wider CofE) actually works, and indeed such an understanding is necessary for anyone seeking to exercise executive (or presumed executive) power in the Church on the island (which is where a lot of the present problems have arisen).

                  I’ve said it before here – Jersey is practically a feudal oligarchy with broadband. It has many faults, but those faults need to be addressed using the constitutional framework that is already established. The alternative is revolution and anarchy, and as Thomas More (in Stoppard’s play) reminds us, when we trample over the law to get the result we want, we risk the danger of no longer having the law to protect us when someone wants to get their result.

            • No, I don’t think ‘silence’ is the key issue: in the current unhappy Diocesan disagreement, for example, the ‘silence’ has not been on the Jersey side.

              My main approach has been to be part of a group called that organises open meetings weekly to engage publicly with a wide range of topical issues.

              I have a number of opinions about things I think are wrong with the Island. I hold those views so strongly because this is my home, so the issues directly affect those I love the most.

              If people outside the Island wanted to make the sacrifices necessary to identify with us and help us with our particular challenges, what a delight that would be. What tends to happen instead is that a half-baked stereotype is rolled out and pilloried in the media by people who would not care if the Island and its 100,000 residents sank into the sea.

              Your brothers and sisters on this little rock need you to stand with us not to put another boot in.

              • Tim, it’s great that you’re there and are doing this. I’ll happily delete my comments if you find them unhelpful. I hope that the mission of the Church goes on despite the difficulties. “Feudal” cannot be good, though.

                • Thank you, Pete. I thought Peter’s “feudal oligarchy with broadband” was uncharacteristically narrow and unhelpful too. I don’t think “feudal” says anything meaningful about the realities we are dealing with.

                  • Tim,

                    I believe Jersey is a functioning democracy, but given it’s small size, it is very easy for power to cluster in particular areas with little opportunity to move to other areas. But I grant you the use of “feudal” is pejorative.

                    • Thank you Peter.
                      I think that the reasons for Jersey to have a distinct CofE are still valid but diminished. Modern communication means that it is no longer impractical for people to travel between the island and Winchester, islanders now speak English rather than French (with local variations) and a greater proportion of matters are now dealt with by civil courts. That being as it is the dean was foolish to try to investigate the complaint by HG rather than request the diocesan safeguarding officer to do it for him. It was wrong both on the count that he did not do it properly (as the Korris report tells us) and as any resulting case in the Ecclesiastical court would have come before him as president of that court.
                      Sadly the dean (not an islander) thought he should assert his independence of the bishop and was supported by Bailhache (who has his own agenda). As his supporter, Brigadier Willing said “it is nothing to do with safeguarding” and all to do with preserving his position.
                      The local media do not ask searching questions, That is left to Bob Hill and other bloggers.

              • There has been a degree of silence on the Jersey side with the new agreement. I would have expected the formal oversight agreement, which is very short, to be placed on church notice boards for the congregations to read.

                There has been a marked reluctance for this to be available (outside your blog), and the Dean only handed out copies to States members after the matter was raised in the States. This is an omission which does not further the cause of greater transparency and respect for Anglican congregations.

                It makes me wonder if the Steel Report, if released to the Dean and the Island authorities, will be made available to more that a select coterie of lay people in Jersey.

                Nor, as far as I aware, has the agreement appeared publically on any diocesan website. There’s a tendency towards secrecy on both sides with does not engender trust. It is more Gospel of Thomas than Gospel of John:

                These are the hidden words that the living Jesus spoke,
                and that Didymos Judas Thomas wrote down.

                • In my view this is a much more gracious and productive exchange – thank you all. The emotions around all of this are high for those who directly affected. Whatever the rights or wrongs of the Dakin-Key affair, the impact on the many – the “non-oligarchs” :-) – has been horrible: for example, several ministers have been unable to work during the last year, adding to the weight carried by the rest (as an assistant to one of them, this has affected me personally!); and a gifted couple considering ordination have left the Anglican church altogether. With a few other key individuals leaving at the same time, this practically closed down one church that was revived just 5 years ago and has been wonderfully transforming its neighbourhood.

                • Thank you Tony. I would say that the small size of the Channel Islands means that the full range of skills, oversight and administration are not present. This creates practical limits to the development of a, or two, distinct churches. Note that the Catholic church in the islands is simply part of the Portsmouth diocese.

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