Christ Church dean suspended over salary row

The temporary suspension is pending the outcome of a tribunal reviewing a formal complaint concerning the process by which the Dean’s salary is set

Members of Christ Church College’s JCR and GCR were informed yesterday that the college Dean, Martyn Percy, has been suspended from his duties pending the outcome of a tribunal which could see him permanently removed from office.

In an email sent to the college’s JCR and GCR, the Censor revealed that a tribunal will review a formal complaint filed by several members of Christ Church Governing Body concerning the process by which the Dean’s salary is set.

The email read: “As you know, the College is currently engaged in a highly confidential matter.

“Unfortunately, there has been further press interest and, in light of this, we felt junior members should be sent a copy of the statement that has been issued: ‘Ahead of an internal tribunal, which will review a formal complaint, the Dean of Christ Church, the Very Revd Professor Martyn Percy, has been suspended from his duties pending the tribunal’s outcome.

‘The tribunal will be held with an independent chair. As this is now a matter of legal process, it would be inappropriate to comment further until the tribunal has reached its conclusion.'”

The college added: “Fair and robust procedures are in place to resolve the matter and that in the meantime, the College’s teaching, research, welfare and other activities continue as normal.”

A separate email informed students that the college asked The Mail on Sunday to apologise for recently reporting that the complaint was related to Percy’s efforts to close the gender pay gap between his staff members and increase the college’s intake of state-school students.

The email read: “Christ Church’s lawyers advised us that it was appropriate to ask the Mail on Sunday to correct inaccuracies in the story that appeared on November 4.”

Following a request made by the college, The Mail on Sunday printed the following statement in yesterday’s paper: “An earlier version of this article said the complainants were trying to force out the Dean through a formal complaint about their pay which, we said, was set by the Dean.

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“We have been asked to make clear that the complaint is not concerned with the complainants’ pay, which is not set by the Dean, but in fact arises from issues surrounding how the Dean’s own pay is set.”

Christ Church has also dismissed other “numerous, very serious inaccuracies” published by national media, including allegations of “bullying” in The Sunday Times.

In response to the allegations, Christ Church Treasurer James Lawrie told Cherwell: “Christ Church is extremely distressed about a claim of bullying as we have taken great care throughout to support the Dean’s well-being.”

One undergraduate student said that he was “disappointed” by Christ Church’s failure to communicate with its students, many of whom only found out about the issue from national headlines.

He told Cherwell: “It may be the case that the complaints against [the Dean] are completely legitimate, or perhaps he really is being bullied by a cabal of stuffy, aged academics.

“Points of procedure aside, this silence naturally implies that the reasons for the tribunal would, if publicised, be unpopular, while the condescending tone of the very limited statements which college has made to the junior members suggests that Christ Church would like its student body to be blithely unaware of the entire fiasco.”

Students and friends of Christ Church cathedral donated £40 towards a gift and good luck card for the Dean following the news of his suspension to show their support.

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