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Former Oxford College dean and senior clergyman leaves Church of England | University of Oxford

A high-ranking clergyman who fought an epic three-and-a-half-year battle over efforts to oust him as head of Christ Church, Oxford, has announced he is leaving the Church of England.

Martyn Percy, dean of Christ Church Cathedral as well as head of one of Oxford’s most venerable colleges, left his post last month after reaching a settlement that involved a substantial payout.

He revealed in an interview in the Times last weekend that he had a serious breakdown during the protracted strife and was close to considering suicide. He criticized the Bishop of Oxford for “writing a very public letter… and saying that it was inappropriate for people to defend me in public when I was attacked in public”.

Now he has announced his decision to leave C of E in an article for Prospect magazine, citing the “parlouse state of protection” in the church.

“In light of … bias, lack of neutral handling of conflicts of interest, double standards and incompetence in securing C of E, I finally made a decision: to leave the church,” he said. “Even though I have been ordained for more than 30 years and continue my faith in God, the Church of England has destroyed every trust I could have had in it. It is an insecure place to work.”

His experience of being accused of protecting failure and a charge of sexual harassment led him to conclude that C of E “lacks transparency, accountability, external control and, as far as I am concerned, integrity”.

Within the church, there was a “culture of bullying and harassment that affected many pastors,” he said. C of E spent tens of thousands of millions of pounds a year on protection, “most of which have been thrown away on procedures that seem cosmetically appropriate, but ultimately lack the professional standards one would find in other areas”.

The long-running dispute between Percy and Christ Church’s governing body cost millions of pounds and caused severe damage to the 476-year-old college, which has produced 13 British prime ministers and 17 archbishops.

At the heart of the controversy was Percy’s salary and his efforts to reform the college’s leadership, but he was accused of conduct of an “immoral, scandalous or degrading nature”.

In June 2019, all complaints against Percy were dismissed by a retired Supreme Court justice, and his reinstatement ordered. However, the governing body’s efforts to remove Percy from his post continued.

In February this year, the college agreed to pay a “substantial” amount to Percy and reimburse his legal costs. It also agreed to an independent review of its management.

A spokesman for Steven Croft, the bishop of Oxford, said he had gone “significantly far to take care of Martyn Percy”, adding: “This has been a complex and painful process for everyone involved in the last two years “many of which have been inaccurately played out by followers of Dr. Percy in the media and online.”

The diocese had commissioned an independent review to be led by C of E’s independent safety council.

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