1. Christ Church has requested a review of its governance and asked me in the summer of 2022 to carry it out with the aim that my conclusions and recommendations would be finalised by the spring of 2023.  This report sets out my opinion as to what changes and reforms might best serve Christ Church for its successful development in meeting its charitable objects.  These are the advancement of religion, education and learning, as a Cathedral for the Diocese of Oxford, a college within Oxford University and the promotion of research in any branch of learning, as well as the preservation and conservation of its exceptional buildings and collections of art, books and its curtilage.
  2. The need for a review has been prompted by recent events which have been traumatic and painful for many concerned and have involved a long drawn out and public breakdown in confidence between the last Dean and the overwhelming majority of the Governing Body of Christ Church.  This situation led to expensive litigation and ancillary costs in attempts at removing the Dean from office and addressing his own allegations against the Governing Body (GB). It has placed great strain on the existing system of governance and on those with offices of responsibility within it.  In November 2022, after my review was started, an Official Warning was issued by the Charity Commission to Christ Church, which centres on the Commission’s view that the GB failed to exercise its duties as a body of charity trustees, in relation to the proper scrutiny and control of those costs, adequately.  These events have caused damage to Christ Church’s reputation and standing.  Much controversy has been generated both within the House and amongst the many Alumni who have supported its work by making donations and in other ways and have, in some cases, ceased to do so as a consequence. It is therefore of great importance that Christ Church should be able to restore its governance to a stable footing that will enable it to again command public confidence and move forward.
  3. In the course of this review, I have been often asked if my report will pass comment or judgement on the events that have taken place and the behaviour of those most concerned. I want to emphasise that this is not and never was the purpose of the review and indeed would have made it impossible to carry it out in this form had it been the case. Whilst an understanding of what has happened has been essential to the conduct of the review, the allocation of blame for what has occurred plays no part in it. Furthermore, as I explore in this report, many of the problems of governance which Christ Church has experienced have roots in structures and inbuilt tensions which long pre-date recent events. Some of these are peculiar to the House and its history as a Foundation, delivering two primary and increasingly distinct objectives of being both a Church of England Cathedral and a collegiate body of learning in a university. Others are common to all Oxford and Cambridge colleges, as they strive to meet the growing regulatory requirements imposed by their becoming registered charities subject to the supervision of the Charity Commission as well as the need to meet those of the Equality Act and more generally to become open and welcoming to and inclusive of a much more diverse body of undergraduate and graduate students and senior members.
  4. The terms of reference that were provided to me for the review are drawn extremely wide and allow in practice for the examination of almost every aspect of the governance and running of Christ Church. But it has been clear to me from an early stage of this review that to seek to identify every detail of governance that I might consider could benefit from change is to risk both being buried by minutiae and impeding consideration of the more major changes that are really needed. These relate to leadership structures and the systems of scrutiny and accountability that are required to make governance effective, deliver strategic purpose and enable the smooth running of a complex organisation.  If these can be successfully established, then further change and reform will follow of itself from within and not need to be designed from outside. As an outsider to the academic world, I am very conscious that a successful academic institution is not just about systems but also about ethos and the overall environment that is created for teaching, learning and research.  The same applies with different criteria to the operation and work of the Cathedral and its role and mission. For me, it has been a notable feature that, in conducting this review, overwhelmingly, the feedback from those I have consulted has been positive about the experience of working or learning at Christ Church, despite its problems and that undergraduate students appear to have been largely unaffected by the recent disputes between the GB and the Dean. Any review must take into account that, whatever the current challenges, they should be seen in the context of close on 500 years of successful organic development. This needs to be furthered, not stymied. I trust that the process of review and this report will be a positive contribution to this goal.


  1. In order to carry out this review, I was supplied by Christ Church with all the relevant documentation relating to the Smith Tribunal, the Crasnow Tribunal, the conclusions of Dame Sarah Asplin and Sir Wyn Williams and copies of minutes of the GB since 2018 and of the Chapter for the same period.  I have been able to study the Statutes and By-laws and observe a meeting of the GB and the Chapter and of some of the House committees.  I have been given an understanding as to how its governance has evolved.  A workshop has been held, attended by some members of GB, and there have been regular meetings with an Advisory Committee set up by the GB to assist me in my work.
  2. Central to the review have been the one to one meetings I have held with members of GB, junior research fellows, representatives of the JCR and GCR, members of both academic and non-academic staff, former Deans and Alumni who wished to come and share their views.  These have totalled over 100 in number and additionally I have had meetings with other heads of house in both Oxford and Cambridge and been provided with material by them illustrating their own governance models. There have also been meetings with the Bishop of Oxford, the Church Commissioners and the Archbishop of Canterbury, as well as the Cabinet Office, Privy Council, Charity Commission and Oxford University. All these meetings have been treated as confidential as to the individual opinions expressed by those with whom I have engaged. These conversations have been key to informing the development of my own views as the review has progressed and ensuring that any recommendations I make are tailored to what Christ Church needs, so as to be able to attract general support and therefore be capable of implementation. I have also received written submissions from some members of GB and from a large number of Alumni. I have been able to take into account the report produced by Rosalyn Green in carrying out a review of HR for Christ Church and have had discussions with Akua Reindorf KC who is carrying out a review on Sexual Harassment and with Jim Gamble of INEQE on Safeguarding. However, their reports were not ready by the time this review was completed. I have also had the assistance of the advice of Gregory Jones KC on matters of ecclesiastical law.
  3. I wish to put on record my thanks to all who have taken the time and trouble to meet with me or write to me in connection with this review as well as to the members of the Advisory Committee of GB set up to assist me.  I am also most grateful to those outside of the House who have given of their time to help me.  Most especially I wish to thank Katherine Selwyn, my PA, without whom carrying out this task would not have been possible and for the encouragement and patience of my wife while I have been busy with it.

A Brief Overview of Christ Church

  1. It is beyond the scope of this review, and is not necessary for its purpose, to set out in detail the history of the governance of Christ Church. But some of that history is important to an understanding of its current governance structures and of the extent to which these are suitable for the House’s current role and the challenges it now needs to meet.
  2. Originally founded as “Cardinal College” by Thomas Wolsey in 1525 and then re-founded as “Christ Church” by Henry VIII in 1546, the House was intended to fulfil a role distinctive from other colleges at Oxford or Cambridge. It was structured as a generously endowed Cathedral for the recently created Diocese of Oxford, governed by a Dean and Chapter of Canons alone. The teaching and academic thinking that was to be its contribution to the work of Oxford University was in the hands of the Dean and Canons and of teaching fellows known as “Students” who, unlike in other colleges, had no involvement or say in its governance.  Remarkably, for the next 300 years there were only draft statutes to underpin the governance, as Henry VIII died before any could be formally issued and that final step remained in abeyance.
  3. By the middle of the 19th century this position had come to be seen as intolerable by the Student Fellows and they demanded reform as they were placed in a subordinate position in comparison with the Fellows of other Oxford colleges. An initial step to give Christ Church a legal status through the Christ Church Ordinance of 1858, failed to meet their concerns. After further agitation, Parliament, with the support of the national government, passed the Christ Church, Oxford Act 1867 which was transformational.  The Act placed the assets and administration of the Foundation in the hands of a new “Governing Body” consisting of the Dean, Canons and Student Fellows, termed “Senior Students”. The governance of the Cathedral and its appurtenances (including the control of the Deanery and Canonries and the choir) was, however, reserved to the Dean and Canons alone.
  4. Although the Statutes have since been significantly modified and modernised on a number of occasions, most recently in 2011 and 2014, the key outlines laid down in the 1867 Act and the new set of Statutes it created, remain the basis of the governance of Christ Church today. The current Statutes, a copy of which is attached to this report as Appendix 1, often closely mirror the 1867 framework. Thus Statutes I.5 and I.6 continue to reserve to the Dean and Chapter (or the Dean and Canons) the governance of the Cathedral and its appurtenances including the Deanery and Canonries and the exclusive disposal of the moneys annually set apart by the GB as the “Cathedral Fabric Fund” for the maintenance of buildings and the “Chapter Fund” for the salaries and stipends of clergy and staff. The arrangements for the education of the choristers and the provision of a schoolteacher are also reserved to the Dean and Canons. While the GB is required under Statutes VI.2., VI.3., and VII.1. to set apart annually sums “as shall be reasonable and appropriate taking account of the revenues of the House” for these reserved items and to receive an annual account of how the moneys have been spent, the Dean and Chapter (or Dean and Canons) are answerable only to the King as Visitor for the exercise of these functions and the GB has no other control over them.
  5. The Statutes also provide the structure for the governance of the collegiate academic community. Its function and authority over all possessions and revenues of the House, save those powers reserved to the Dean and Chapter, are vested in the GB (Statute I.3). That is, they are vested in a body comprising the Dean, the Canons and with limited exceptions, the “Students”, the descendants of the “Senior Students” of the 1867 Act; which group are now broken down into several categories reflecting their periods of tenure and/or the nature of the academic work they perform at the House.
  6. In addition, Statute XVI makes provision for Officers of the House.  These are mostly historic posts that have existed for a long time and in some cases predate 1867 but are now explicitly covered in the current Statutes. These start with the Senior and Junior Censor who, as further defined in Part 4 of the By-laws of the House, are in effect the leaders of the academic community. Both are elected from among the “Official Students”, a subset of the GB confined to those Students who are elected to GB on condition of engaging in teaching at the House and who currently number 46. The nomination of the Censors for election by GB is decided by the Senior ex-Censor on the advice of the other ex-Censors on GB and following consultation with Tutors and other college officers. The intended appointees are required by the By-laws to be announced to GB at least one year before they are nominated for election and are again elected each year with the same prior announcement throughout their period in office. A person elected as Junior Censor is expected to spend two years in post before doing a further two years as the Senior Censor. The Senior Censor is a key administrator at Christ Church. They fill the role of a Senior Tutor at other Colleges, as well as being the adviser and representative of the academic body to the Dean including “on non-academic matters which may directly or indirectly affect the academic activities, prosperity or reputation of Christ Church”. (By-law 33.(2)). The Senior Censor is responsible, with the Junior Censor, for the welfare and discipline of undergraduate students - a role that principally falls on the Junior Censor for non-academic discipline, but where ultimate authority is with the Senior Censor. The Senior Censor has a role in relation to the Academic Account and the financial planning of the academic body and, in relation to the discharge of their duties, consults with the committees of the House and with the Dean proposes for election by GB new members of those committees. They have further extensive responsibilities for meeting regulatory requirements and are the senior line manager of the academic staff, including the Academic Registrar who helps to deliver the academic work of the House. The Senior Censor represents the House on the University’s committee of Senior Tutors. The Senior Censor also chairs the Council of Students, an informal forum within the House from which the Dean and Canons are excluded.
  7. There are other officers required by Statute XVI; a Treasurer, a Librarian, a Curator of Pictures, a Steward and a College Chaplain. More recently the GB has chosen to add a Development Director to enhance its links with Alumni and help with fundraising.  The Treasurer, Steward and Development Director are members of GB, the others are not, although the Statutes expressly suggest that the Curator of Pictures, Librarian and College Chaplain could be so made. The role of Treasurer is crucial to the good governance of the House and covers its fabric, property and estates and the management of its finances and investments. The Steward is responsible for the domestic finances, hospitality, catering and domestic services. Both answer to GB for the work of their departments.
  8. In addition, the By-laws, made by the GB pursuant to the Statutes, provide for other college officers including a Tutor for Admissions, Tutor for Graduates and Editor of the Annual Report, all elected by GB from among their number and proposed for election by committees established for that purpose, for such term as GB decides.  A number of more minor offices are also elected by GB (By-law 42).  Of these the Secretary of the Salaries Board, which determines such salaries of the Officers of the House, members of GB and those members of the House doing teaching or research as are not negotiated nationally or set centrally by the university, has to be elected from among the “Official Students”.
  9. Finally in this list is the Dean. Appointed by the Crown but, in practical reality, the choice of the GB, the Dean is described in the Statutes as “responsible for order and discipline and the general superintendence of the House”. The Dean chairs the GB.  In practice, however, unless a power is specifically delegated to the Dean, the role is one of first among equals in relation to GB save that the Dean will chair such committees as they attend.  In the non-statutory job description produced for the Censors, regular meetings are expected between them and the Dean to discuss day to day issues of the management of the House.  The Dean appoints a Censor Theologiae from amongst the members of GB to deputise within the academic body when necessary.  There is provision for others to deputise if neither are available.  The Dean is the head of house and head of the Cathedral and is, of course, the public face of Christ Church with numerous responsibilities towards the University, the City, the County, the Diocese of Oxford and Alumni as well as presiding over the Foundation.  In the context of the Cathedral there is support from a Sub-Dean, who is also a member of GB.  Much of the liturgical work of the Cathedral is delegated to the Sub-Dean.  
  10. Christ Church is a large operation to manage and it is worth briefly outlining its scale.  The Treasurer’s payroll, which includes the academic members of the GB, currently numbers 184.  This covers, in addition to GB, inter alia, 16 Junior Research Fellows, 48 Lecturers who help with the teaching, nine members of the Development Office who cover fundraising, 14 academic related administrators, eight members of the Treasurer’s Department, 12 in the Clerk of Works Department and nine in the Library.  The Steward’s full time payroll numbers 157, including inter alia, 45 dealing with housekeeping, 23 in the Kitchens, 14 in the Hall, 17 in the Porters Lodge, six in accounts and 19 dealing with Visitor Services for the many thousands who come to the House each year as tourists or for access to the Cathedral.  There are also a further 58 casual part time workers. The Cathedral itself employs 24 staff.  Christ Church Cathedral School employs 59 staff.  This makes a total of around 480.  But added to this are the approximately 450 undergraduate students and 230 postgraduates and a number of other academics and others based in Christ Church and connected to it but with salaries paid elsewhere and 130 children in the School.  To all of these the House has responsibilities. Overall, its functioning is based on a collegiate community close to 1300 in number.
  11. There are assets, revenue and expenditure to match the scale of its operations.  The endowment portfolio of land and financial assets is currently valued at around £769m.  Total income for 2022/23 is forecast at £36m of which about 60% represents the drawdown from the endowment calculated at 3.25% of the five year historic average value. Total expenditure is forecast at £40m.  The shortfall is a reflection of losses in income resulting from the Covid pandemic and higher than usual expenditure on historic buildings, which is financed by an interest bearing loan from the endowment. Ordinarily the drawdown on the endowment covers any operating losses. But it is important to bear in mind that although Christ Church has considerable assets, these are matched by substantial obligations.
  12. Christ Church is in practice run through an extensive system of committees and sub-committees of the GB covering different areas of its activities.  These meet during full term on a planned rota and in each of the three full academic terms of the year there are normally three meetings of the GB.  Only members of GB can be full committee members and certain committees have ex-officio as well as appointed membership.  But relevant staff are also invited to attend committees and academic staff are critical to the successful delivery of teaching.  The discussions, decisions and recommendations of the committees are reported to GB and either noted or, if necessary, become subject to its approval or rejection.  The Benefices Committee, which helps to choose clergy for 79 Christ Church parish livings, and the Salaries Board are required by the Statutes, but other committees can be created or removed according to need.  During the course of my review Christ Church has additionally created an Audit Committee, chaired by the Censor Theologiae, with an unremunerated external member of GB on it, partly in response to the issues raised by the Charity Commission in its Official Warning to the Foundation on its handling of the litigation with its former Dean. This has replaced the previous arrangement of a single member of GB discussing the audit with the auditors.
  13. During the course of this review it was emphasised to me by a number of members of GB that the core design and intention of the Statutes and the way they are operated, including unwritten conventions on how information is shared and decision making takes place, was to deliver collegiate governance - enabling the GB, together with the assistance of staff, to make the best decisions for all for whom the GB has responsibility or needs to have regard in its activities and to strike a balance between the interests of the academic body and the Cathedral. They also believed that it broadly did so successfully, despite the exceptional issues raised by recent events with the former Dean.  Some other members of GB, however, were of the view that the system was not working as well as was required and needed improvement and change


  1. Until 2011, along with other colleges of the universities of Oxford, Cambridge and Durham, Christ Church was an exempt charity and, as such, not subject to a statutory regulator.  The members of GB principally owed a duty to act in conformity with the relevant Statutes and By-Laws as well as the duties of trustees under the general law.  However, the Charities Act 2011 has now placed on the GB of Christ Church, as such a college, the same obligations that are placed on all other charity trustees under the Act.  It has also placed the GB under the regulatory superintendence of the Charity Commission.  Each member of GB undertakes, on appointment, the duties of being a charity trustee of the Foundation.  For the vast majority of GB members who are also employees of Christ Church, this requires recognising their dual role as employees and persons who receive some benefit from the activities of the Foundation and as trustees of it with a duty to look at its widest interests and act to further them at all times above their own.  Those interests include both the work of the academic community and, insofar as they have responsibility for it under the statutes, the funding and the functioning of the Cathedral and, additionally in the case of the Dean and Chapter, the work of the Cathedral.
  2. The manner in which the duties of charity trusteeship are discharged will vary widely from one charity to another and there is no single prescriptive model and cannot be.  But in its key document “The Essential Trustee: what you need to know, what you need to do”, the Commission identifies the six main duties of a trustee as follows: (i) ensure that the charity is carrying out its purpose for the public benefit; (ii) comply with the charity’s governing document and the law; (iii) act in the charity’s best interests; (iv) ensure the charity is accountable; (v) manage the charity’s resources responsibly and (vi) act with reasonable care and skill.
  3. To this document there is also to be added a “Charity Governance Code for larger charities”, produced by the Charity Governance Code Steering Group - a consortium of organisations that includes the Charity Commission.  This is more aspirational in character and seeks to support continuous improvement.  It centres on seven core principles. These are:
    1. Organisational purpose - the extent to which the board of trustees is clear about the charity’s aims and ensures that they are being delivered effectively and sustainably.
    2. Leadership - that the charity is led by an effective board that provides strategic leadership in line with the charity’s aims and values.
    3. Integrity - that the board acts with integrity, adopting values and creating a culture which help achieve the organisation’s charitable purposes.  The board is aware of the importance of the public’s confidence in charities and trustees undertake their duties accordingly.
    4. Decision-making, risk and control - the board makes sure that its decisions are informed, rigorous and timely and that effective delegation, control and risk assessment and management systems are set up and monitored.
    5. Board effectiveness - the board works as an effective team using the appropriate balance of skills, experience, backgrounds and knowledge to make informed decisions.
    6. Equality, diversity and inclusion - the board’s approach to diversity supports its effectiveness, leadership and decision making.
    7. Openness and accountability - the board leads the organisation in being transparent and accountable.  The charity is open in its work, unless there is a good reason for it not to be.
  4. In the course of this review, the point was made to me quite frequently by members of GB and others, that the model of a charity envisaged by the Charity Commission, namely one where the board of trustees is made up entirely of unpaid volunteers who take on the responsibility of superintending staff running the charity, does not fit easily with the Oxford or Cambridge collegiate model. It is certainly the case that a GB of 65 is bound to have a very different dynamic from the recommended size of a charity board of 5-12 people put forward in the Code at 5.6.2. The collegiate model also inevitably raises greater issues of potential conflicts of interest than would be likely to exist where no trustee is also an employee or receives any kind of benefit from the charity. Christ Church’s unusual structure of a joint Foundation with multiple purposes and an area of its operation in respect of the Cathedral reserved to a small minority of the GB, creates further complications. But the broad standards and requirements of a charity trustee are as valid for a large collegiate body as for a smaller board and the existence of Christ Church’s current structure cannot be an excuse for not meeting those standards even if the route for doing so may differ from the norm. I have therefore taken these seven principles as a guide.


  1. In my terms of reference, I have been asked to give, first, a broad assessment of the effectiveness of Christ Church’s current governance arrangements against the Charity Governance Code and whether the current governance is fit for purpose.
  2. Before doing so, however, I wish to stress that the evidence from my own observations of the functioning of Christ Church and conversations with its members, is that it is overall a friendly community that inspires high levels of loyalty and affection from most GB members, staff and undergraduate and graduate students alike, even when they might have significant criticisms of its functioning. It is clear to me that many work very hard to promote its charitable purposes and its wellbeing entirely in line with the intentions underlying the Charity Governance Code. The overall assessment I set out in this report needs to be read in that context. Having set out my assessment, I will then move on to consider what might be done to remedy the problem areas identified.

Organisational Purpose

  1. Looking first at Organisational Purpose, Christ Church’s GB, whilst working hard to deliver day to day its key purposes of teaching, research and the operation of the Cathedral is suffering from a gap in strategic thinking about its long term aims. In part this is the product of the prolonged period of conflict the GB has had with its last Dean, which has absorbed an immense amount of time, money, energy and emotion and has left a legacy where any plans for future change are still being seen by some through the prisms of those conflicts. The disruption from the Covid pandemic has also contributed. I was shown a short paper prepared for the Development Committee in 2021 called “A Vision for 2025” but its content is very general. It was pointed out to me that even at the most difficult times in the last few years, the GB has been taking decisions to improve incrementally its governance and its work, ranging inter alia from diversifying undergraduate admissions to establishing an Equality and Diversity Committee, extending the Library and Picture Gallery for its 500th anniversary and its new academic focus on computer science. Most recently Christ Church is seeking to secure a site to develop as a Graduate Centre, as part of a plan to increase its graduate numbers. I entirely accept these points and they demonstrate that both GB and the officers of the House have been active in promoting its development. But this still left me with the sense that a broader appreciation of Christ Church’s potential as one of the wealthiest colleges in Oxford University and with its alliances with the Diocese and the wider community not only of Oxford as a City and a University but nationally, seemed rather limited. An attempt at setting up a General Purposes and Strategy Committee in the past was not successful although this failure may be explained, at least in part, by the disruptive conflicts with the former Dean.
  2. In recent years the most significant construction project has been the restoration and conversion of the Thatched Barn in the Meadow which has cost some £8.5 million. The intention was to create a visitor centre and café that would generate income and help accommodate the many visitors enjoying the art, culture and heritage of College and Cathedral. But, while a shop has been created, the café has not gone ahead because of a change of view about its utility or merits after the project was already underway. The accommodation is being used instead as a seminar room and for some functions. This change of tack illustrates a lack of collective clarity and consistency of purpose on what was a significant investment. A number of members of GB consider that the original basis of the decision to proceed with the project had not been fully thought through.
  3. It is also noticeable that, notwithstanding the Statutes making all members of GB trustees of the Cathedral building and assets, there is limited interest outside of the Chapter members of GB in its work and a few members of GB are, in discussion, dismissive of its presence and its role. There is an attitude expressed by some that any ambition for the Cathedral to develop its mission beyond being a “college chapel” with some extra services open to the public that come of necessity from its cathedral status, would be undesirable. The musical excellence and cultural importance of its choir, the existence and support of which is required under the Statutes, is recognised; but how a choir might best be provided and whether the current model of provision is the most appropriate one was a subject of some disagreement.

Effective Leadership

  1. The requirement of effective leadership as set out in Principle 2 of the Code, is an issue at Christ Church in several ways, even when allowance is made for a collegiate model of governance so different from the standard model envisaged in the Code. First, the House was without its usual senior leadership structure from late 2018 when the former Dean was first suspended from his office. The period in 2019/20 when he was restored to some but not all his functions was very short.While the House has managed itself without a Head, there was an inevitable loss of opportunity for strategic leadership insight that would be present if a Head, well selected for good leadership and other necessary qualities, were in post. It is important to note however that during the course of the review all on GB were able to come together to welcome the opportunity of fresh leadership with a newly nominated Dean. But, secondly, even when in office, the role of a Dean is limited not only by the need to carry a majority of the very large GB with them in any policy initiative but by the Statutes themselves which create an alternative leadership centre for the academic body in the Senior Censor, elected by the GB along with the Junior Censor from among the academic body the “Official Students”. This is a subset made up of only the tutorial fellows of the GB. In practice there have never in fact been any contested elections, because there is a nomination system involving the Senior ex-Censor and the former Censors continuing on GB that has always been accepted when names are put forward. These factors create structural challenges to effective senior leadership in a collegiate setting.
  2. During the course of my conversations with GB members, it was made clear to me that a number of them are concerned at having the responsibility of being trustees, a role that they do not feel well equipped to undertake. They see their career and vocational choice as being one of academic teaching and/or research and some do not feel they have the necessary time to give to the task. Trusteeship simply comes automatically with the academic appointment and there is no formalised induction and training on that appointment. Some have come from abroad and find the system of English charitable governance unfamiliar. Others are concerned about doing this work for which they feel unqualified. There was particular concern expressed over the Official Warning from the Charity Commission when it was felt that, in practice, they as individuals were able to play only a limited role in decisions, including the decisions criticised by the Commission. Although the rationale for the current structure of the trusteeship is its “collegiality” of decision making, it was represented to me by some newer members of GB that established relationships within it did not encourage their feeling they could make effective contributions.
  3. The nub of the first criticism directed by the Charity Commission to Christ Church centres on the breakdown of collegiate decision making under the pressure of events leading, in the Commission’s view, to substantial expenditure of charitable funds being incurred without the informed approval of all trustees and their being able to monitor or control it or properly assess its full extent and the potential implications for Christ Church’s public reputation. It’s an inescapable fact that fear of leaks led the GB to restrict access to all the relevant information that trustees ought normally to have had made available to them in their role. This was done with legal advice and under exceptional pressures. But that in and of itself does not remove the problem it raises of how this allowed the 65 trustees to operate collectively, collegiately, in taking and monitoring important decisions affecting the finances and reputation of the House. Many trustees had a lack of awareness of the actual amounts being spent. The figures would have been available to them by an examination of the accounts, but they were not being shared and discussed.

Integrity, values and culture

  1. Code Principle 3 has also to be considered. Christ Church has systems in place to deal with conflicts of interest and to try to facilitate objective and transparent decision making and accountability and to ensure fairness and I have been able to see these being applied at meetings. As a result of this review, I am in no doubt that the overwhelming majority of members of the GB subscribe to promoting the objectives in this part of the code and try to do so. But operating these principles under pressure can be challenging. The criticisms of the Charity Commission in the handling of the disputes with the former Dean need to be considered. I have felt during the conduct of the review that the trauma resulting from these disputes has left some members of GB defensive. There remain, in my view, difficulties, for some, in making objective assessments of how the House is externally perceived and what is needed to restore its reputation and make it function well for the future. The current system of governance also works to give some members of GB, in practice, greater influence over the running of the House than others, even though they may not be office holders of any kind. While I accept that on any trustee board, some will exercise greater influence than others because of greater insight, experience and diligence in their approach to their role, the present system lacks transparency. Transparency is important as it supports and enhances integrity in decision making, particularly when issues arise which may be sensitive, difficult or embarrassing to address.

Decision making, Risk and Control Code 4

  1. Christ Church has done much recently and in response to recent events to improve the effectiveness of the GB in overseeing and controlling governance and this process has been happening as this review has been in progress. An Audit Committee has been set up to work with the external auditor and review the accounts before they go to GB. An HR review has taken place and its recommendations will be implemented.This will set up a proper HR structure throughout Christ Church. A safeguarding review and a review of policies to address sexual harassment are being carried out and it is likely that recommendations made in the reports from them will be accepted. The GB meeting I attended in October 2022 was well chaired and, although lengthy, sought to offer a full opportunity for participation. There are two “independent” members of the GB both unremunerated by Christ Church and not based there. One such serves on the Finance Committee and the other on the Investment sub-committee.
  2. But, as previously detailed, I remain of the opinion that not all trustees at present have all the appropriate basic skills and knowledge or enough time to be effective in their role (Code 5.2). This can then translate into acquiescence in the effective decision making being made by others. The review also generated comment from staff to the effect that the systems of delegation of responsibilities for the delivery of the House’s charitable purposes do not work as well as they should, leading to an excessive concentration of decision making at the centre when this is not conducive to effective governance or management - see Code 4.5.1 and 4.5.2. Furthermore, the new systems that are being set up are still in their infancy and at present there remain issues of lack of independent scrutiny that need to be addressed.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

  1. Christ Church now has a specific committee of the GB to promote Equality and Diversity and promote inclusion. Everything I have seen during this review suggests that the House takes its duties in this regard seriously and that it wishes its Equality duty to be at the heart of its activities. The HR review commissioned by Christ Church has identified areas of existing risk, however, stemming from the current lack of consistent professionalised HR across the House. But these are now to be addressed by Christ Church through the adoption of the HR report, which was welcomed by GB. There is also the issue that at present the GB does not have a mechanism to review its own performance as suggested in Code 5.8.2. and for reasons I have already given, I have concerns, that the way the GB has evolved may deter participation by some of its members even if this is unintended.It needs to be emphasised, however, that this is not an opinion reached on the basis that any protected characteristic within the Equality Act has been affected, but a matter of more general culture and hierarchy. This in turn can also have an adverse impact on those members of staff and others not on GB seeking to deliver the equality, diversity and inclusion policies desired by GB. They can feel marginalised and undervalued by those setting the policies.

Openness and Accountability

  1. In view of the criticisms of the Charity Commission, it is obvious that Christ Church has work to do to restore public trust that it is delivering a public benefit and contributing to the success of its wider sector at the top of national provision of higher education and research.It has to show a willingness to learn from mistakes. From what has been evident during this review, at present the GB is making efforts to do this but the willingness to really change and adapt its governance is going to be the key to success.

Conclusion and Summary:

  1. In the recent past Christ Church has not met the standards of effective charitable governance to be expected of a large charity. Matters are now undoubtedly improved, because the exceptional strains on it have ceased. But the weaknesses in the system are still there and are inhibiting the achievement of its full potential.


  1. During the course of this review, it was clear that there was an almost universal opinion at Christ Church, as amongst those consulted from outside, that the status quo in terms of its leadership structure needs reform. The principal argument for change is that the existing system has been shown to be weak in delivering strategic and effective leadership for the House and enabling it to operate as efficiently as it might.
  2. Even prior to the disputes between the GB and the former Dean, there have, in Christ Church’s recent history, been calls for change. In 1939 a committee was set up by the House and a paper produced. This called for either the splitting of the Foundation to separate the Cathedral from the academic body or, as an alternative, a change to allow for the role of head of the academic body to be effectively separated from that of the Dean, who would remain only as a figurehead in so far as the academic body was concerned. Later in the 1960s, Professor Hugh Trevor-Roper (as he then was) argued that it ought to be possible to have a “Lay” Dean who did not have to be in Holy Orders. In each case the argument was for an increasing separation between the work of the Cathedral and that of the collegiate academic body on the grounds that it was becoming increasingly difficult to find an ordained person with the requisite experience, skills or academic status to chair and lead a Foundation whose primary focus was increasingly (or it was argued should be) on its academic teaching and research. But in both cases the matter was not taken further. The proposals of 1939 were formally rejected by the GB on a vote and the 1960s proposals were not formally presented.
  3. The current debate primarily centres again, on the role of the Dean. Once again members of GB have expressed a variety of opinions on what might replace the current structure created by the 1867 Christ Church Act and in this review three models have come in for particular consideration.


  1. The first is the splitting of the Foundation to separate the work of the Cathedral from that of the academic body so that there would be two charitable foundations rather than one. The advantage would be that such an arrangement would create clarity in the governance structures and enable each part of the Foundation to develop thereafter in its own way. It would remove the concern that some members of GB have about a Christian Anglican Cathedral being formally linked to an educational and research institution which is open to persons of all faiths and none and wishing to promote the principles of the Equality Act; whereas the Cathedral falls within the exceptions under the Act that inevitably go with its status as such.
  2. From having considered the Statutes, the 1867 Act and the terms of the Oxford and Cambridge Universities Act 1923 and having seen the advice of counsel specialising in Ecclesiastical Law, I take the view that such a profound change could be achieved without primary legislation. But it would remain an extremely complex project not only to achieve but also in its short and long term consequences.
  3. As was pointed out in the 1939 paper, the nature of the current Foundation would mean that the Dean, Chapter and Cathedral would be the continuing Foundation and a new one for the academic body would have to be created. Any change to Christ Church’s statutes requires not just a resolution by a two thirds majority of GB, but the approval of, first, the University and then second, the Privy Council which, in the case of a split in the Foundation would also have to approve the grant of a new Royal Charter for the new college that would be created.
  4. While all these changes are legally and procedurally possible, the central issue would be how the Endowment was shared between the two institutions. This is a matter outside of my terms of reference or competence to determine and expert advice would have to be sought. But it is easy to see how controversial and divisive this might be, unless there were unanimity within the GB as to how it should be done and all external interested parties including the Church Commissioners, the Privy Council, the Government, the Charity Commission and the University were all satisfied with the way it was to be done from the outset. It would also be necessary to consider whether such a move is compatible with the original intentions of the Founder and of subsequent donors.
  5. Another concern must be that, if such a split were carried out, it would leave two charitable foundations occupying the same site and, in many cases buildings which are part of single shared structures. The Statutes currently reserve to the Dean and Chapter, not just the Cathedral, but also its appurtenances, which include the Chapter House, Residentiary Canonries and the Cloister House, physical access to all of which would be across the land of the new “College”, for Canons, staff, worshippers or other visitors. Both the Cathedral and the College would require separate administrative departments that would require more space to be found within the existing buildings or new accommodation secured. Furthermore, there is property under the control of the College which is routinely used for the benefit of the Cathedral and vice versa. The Cathedral is used as the College Chapel (Statute IV) and also at various times, for gatherings of undergraduate students for inductions. The Dean and Chapter use the Hall and the McKenna Room for Cathedral related functions. The bells in the Wolsey Tower are, I am informed, the property of the Dean and Chapter. But the Wolsey Tower from which they are rung is itself not reserved to them. The same applies to Great Tom, which serves both as the clock bell and curfew bell of the College and the tolling and celebratory bell for the Cathedral. The gardens of the House are on occasion used for large Cathedral related events as well. The expense and disruption and consumption of time and resources in resolving the initial, let alone continuing, practical issues would be considerable.
  6. During the course of this review, it was suggested to me by some on GB that the Diocese of Oxford might wish to move its See to another location bringing the connection with the Christ Church site to an end. But my own enquiries and the submission of the Diocesan Synod to me makes quite clear that this is not the case. The Church greatly values its presence at Christ Church and its connection to the academic side of the Foundation through the presence of the four Canon professors, two of whom still have to be in Holy Orders as well as the City and University location and connections.
  7. It might, of course, be possible for all such issues to be resolved between the two Foundations by means of easements, rights of way and other rights of access and use. But it emphasises the complexity of the continuing relationship. The reality in my view is that, even after the initial arrangements, this continuing relationship could only be satisfactorily maintained by exceptional goodwill at all times and on all sides. The risk is that after a “divorce” there might be fewer incentives for mutual sensitive consideration of the needs of the College and the Cathedral. For all these reasons I am emphatically of the view that splitting the Foundation is not as easy an option as might be thought and unlikely to be a good solution in the longer term. The vast majority of members of GB who have engaged with the review appear to share this opinion.


  1. This was the second option considered in 1939. It would involve the creation of a new head of the academic community, free in practice from any control by or input by the Dean in that sphere. The Dean would remain responsible for the Cathedral and would be a “monarchical” figurehead for the entire Foundation including the academic community. The advantage of such a proposal is that it requires the least changes to the Statutes and preserves in theory most of the existing leadership structure.
  2. While I started this review with this model in mind as a possibility and it certainly is deliverable, I came to the view during my consultations that it is not, in current circumstances, a particularly good option. One of the principal reasons offered by those consulted for wanting the opportunity of appointing an academic Head of House was that they could be chosen from a wholly open pool of talent. This outcome might be undermined, if it was felt by applicants that the role did not confer a Head of House status similar to that of other Oxford colleges. It is also the case, that as a result of recent events, there is a marked reluctance of many members of GB to return to any model of ecclesiastical headship except temporarily, even if largely symbolic. These views and emotions may be mistaken and there have, in the past, been Deans whose tenure of office is recalled with appreciation and affection across the GB. But any study of the history of Christ Church shows that tensions between Deans and the Student Fellows have existed for a long time. The structure of governance set up by the 1867 Act was deliberately intended to curb the power of the Dean and Chapter and create a diffuse headship through the role of the Censors. But this twin track constitutional arrangement has itself created obstacles to the strategic development of the House and effective leadership. As the purpose of any change to the headship must be to bring about a positive change in the effectiveness of governance it would be a mistake to change to a model that has unwelcome resonance with past problems. I do not see it therefore as the best option.


  1. In this model, the Statutes would be altered to create a new Head of House for the joint Foundation with no requirement that they be a clerk in Holy Orders. Statute XII would be amended to refer to such Head of House by a new title which will have to be chosen by the GB in consultation with the Visitor. As this is a Royal Foundation, the appointment would remain with the Crown under the new rules which would effectively give this choice to the GB. The Dean would cease to be the head of the Foundation but would continue to be in charge of the Cathedral. I will return to this aspect of this proposal later.
  2. Although under this proposal the Head of the Foundation is likely to be a lay person and could be selected from the widest pool of suitable talent, many of whom may not have any religious affiliation or belief, it has to be emphasised that they will be taking on the role of chairing a Foundation of which one major purpose is the maintenance of an active Christian centre of worship and mission in the form of an Anglican Cathedral and ensuring that it has, within the terms of the Statutes, the necessary resources to do this. Any appointee will have to be able to demonstrate the will and appropriate character and suitability to take on that important part of the role. This proposal will also require that the putative head takes on all the present functions of the Dean towards the academic body and the graduates and undergraduate students of the House as well as the role of principal fundraiser for Christ Church and the key figure in its relations with its alumni and the outside world.
  3. One practical advantage of such a change would be that it will be possible, as the Head of House is no longer the Dean of the Cathedral, to fix the term of the appointment. As periodical renewal of office holders is important to the effective running of an institution of this kind, the term of appointment could be limited to five years with the possibility of extension for another five, rather than as now, having to allow for the head of house to continue under principles of Ecclesiastical Law to the age of 70. Some Oxbridge colleges have different governing provisions to achieve fixed terms and the GB may wish to consider them, taking into account any employment law considerations. There is not one single model that needs to be adopted. But the basic principle of a time limited appointment is important and, I believe, would be a significant improvement on the current position.
  4. In addition, it appears from the review undertaken by Professor Ewan McKendrick KC, that some colleges have introduced a probationary period of one year into the terms of appointment of a head of house. Such a provision could be adopted as well if it was acceptable to the Visitor. But I am not myself persuaded that, with a fixed term provided for, this variant is really necessary or desirable and it may risk deterring applicants who might otherwise apply.
  5. Central to both the above proposals is the opportunity that such a change could bring in clarifying the role of the Head of House. At the time of the last appointment, it was not clear whether or not the Dean was an employee of the House. Following the decision of the Employment Tribunal this is no longer an issue. It must follow that it is incumbent on the GB of Christ Church to consider carefully the contractual terms on which the Head of House is retained. Obviously, those terms must mirror what is required of the Head of House in the Statutes and By-laws. But at present the relevant provisions are of the vaguest kind when it comes to the core duties of the Dean, although they are detailed in relation to some specific issues such as the Dean’s role on grievances and discipline in the recently updated By-laws. In my view there needs to be a written contract of appointment that sets out, even if only in broad terms, what is expected of the Head of House. The previous Dean’s appointment had none. The only guide to the role was that included in the particulars provided with the prospectus for applicants.
  6. Any change in provisions of the Statutes relating to the Head of House also offers an opportunity to reconsider the terms of Statute XXXIX-VII both in relation to the grounds on which the Head of House might be dismissed from office and the protections afforded to the Head of House under it.
  7. As matters stand at present the basis for the removal of the Head of House is for “good cause” which is defined at XXXIX 5(a) - a provision that relates to academic staff generally. Under the definition, it has to be related to “conduct or to capability or qualifications for performing work of the kind which the member of the academic staff was appointed or employed to do”. The reasons include at 5(a)(i) conviction for an offence making the person unfit to perform the role and at 5(a)(ii) “conduct of an immoral, scandalous or disgraceful nature incompatible with the duties of the office or employment”. 5(a)(iii) then deals with “conduct constituting failure or persistent refusal or neglect or inability to perform the duties or comply with the conditions of office or employment and 5.(iv) with “physical or mental incapacity”.
  8. In his judgment in the Tribunal set up to consider the allegations made against the former Dean, Sir Andrew Smith found that the definition of “good cause” is exhaustive. If there is not ‘good cause” within the meaning of the definition within the Statutes, then there is no basis for dismissal. He noted that although based on the statutory regime for unfair dismissal set out in the Employment Rights Act 1996, it did not have the same flexibility as it left out an alternative ground of “some other substantial reason”. He saw this as not in any way surprising given that the Dean as Head of House is a Crown appointment. He also alluded to the fact that many see a public interest in academics enjoying security of tenure. He therefore rejected the submission that a major breakdown in confidence of the GB in the Dean was relevant to the existence of “good cause”, as defined, unless the reason for that loss of confidence came from matters that fell strictly within the definition and had been proved.
  9. In the course of this review, Sir Andrew Smith’s ruling on Statute XXXIX was advanced to me as a reason to provide an added ground for dismissal of a Head of House i.e. if they forfeited the confidence of a weighted majority of the GB and a figure of two thirds of the GB was suggested as appropriate. This suggestion has understandable attractions as a means of resolving a breakdown in the relationship between the Head of House and the GB. It ensures the departure of the Head of House in such circumstances, while leaving them the right to pursue employment law remedies if they consider the dismissal unfair. However, I have concluded on careful reflection that I cannot recommend it. The Head of House is not a CEO with extensive executive powers. Without the consent of the GB they can do little or nothing, as governance is collective. There is no analogous power to treat any other member of GB in this fashion under disciplinary proceedings and indeed such a power would be entirely contrary to the principles of academic freedom which are there to protect members of the academic community from the personal dislike of others. These protections are expressly set out in XXXIX Part 1(a) to (c). They are as relevant in my view to the Head of House as to anyone else on the Academic Staff. There are, I know, a number of occasions when heads of houses in Oxford have resigned with compensation after it became clear that there was a serious breakdown in their relationships with their governing bodies and irrespective of whether there was any basis for their dismissal. Such outcomes are good examples of individuals putting the interests of the charitable institution they are serving at the forefront of their personal thinking and actions. But to turn such informal procedures into a formal power for the GB, when no basis for dismissal under the Statute exists, would raise such problems in prospectively achieving fair outcomes that I cannot recommend it be attempted.
  10. In the course of this review, Sir Andrew Smith’s ruling on Statute XXXIX was advanced to me as a reason to provide an added ground for dismissal of a Head of House i.e. if they forfeited the confidence of a weighted majority of the GB and a figure of two thirds of the GB was suggested as appropriate. This suggestion has understandable attractions as a means of resolving a breakdown in the relationship between the Head of House and the GB. It ensures the departure of the Head of House in such circumstances, while leaving them the right to pursue employment law remedies if they consider the dismissal unfair. However, I have concluded on careful reflection that I cannot recommend it. The Head of House is not a CEO with extensive executive powers. Without the consent of the GB they can do little or nothing, as governance is collective. There is no analogous power to treat any other member of GB in this fashion under disciplinary proceedings and indeed such a power would be entirely contrary to the principles of academic freedom which are there to protect members of the academic community from the personal dislike of others. These protections are expressly set out in XXXIX Part 1(a) to (c). They are as relevant in my view to the Head of House as to anyone else on the Academic Staff. There are, I know, a number of occasions when heads of houses in Oxford have resigned with compensation after it became clear that there was a serious breakdown in their relationships with their governing bodies and irrespective of whether there was any basis for their dismissal. Such outcomes are good examples of individuals putting the interests of the charitable institution they are serving at the forefront of their personal thinking and actions. But to turn such informal procedures into a formal power for the GB, when no basis for dismissal under the Statute exists, would raise such problems in prospectively achieving fair outcomes that I cannot recommend it be attempted.
  11. In the course of this review, Sir Andrew Smith’s ruling on Statute XXXIX was advanced to me as a reason to provide an added ground for dismissal of a Head of House i.e. if they forfeited the confidence of a weighted majority of the GB and a figure of two thirds of the GB was suggested as appropriate. This suggestion has understandable attractions as a means of resolving a breakdown in the relationship between the Head of House and the GB. It ensures the departure of the Head of House in such circumstances, while leaving them the right to pursue employment law remedies if they consider the dismissal unfair. However, I have concluded on careful reflection that I cannot recommend it. The Head of House is not a CEO with extensive executive powers. Without the consent of the GB they can do little or nothing, as governance is collective. There is no analogous power to treat any other member of GB in this fashion under disciplinary proceedings and indeed such a power would be entirely contrary to the principles of academic freedom which are there to protect members of the academic community from the personal dislike of others. These protections are expressly set out in XXXIX Part 1(a) to (c). They are as relevant in my view to the Head of House as to anyone else on the Academic Staff. There are, I know, a number of occasions when heads of houses in Oxford have resigned with compensation after it became clear that there was a serious breakdown in their relationships with their governing bodies and irrespective of whether there was any basis for their dismissal. Such outcomes are good examples of individuals putting the interests of the charitable institution they are serving at the forefront of their personal thinking and actions. But to turn such informal procedures into a formal power for the GB, when no basis for dismissal under the Statute exists, would raise such problems in prospectively achieving fair outcomes that I cannot recommend it be attempted.
  12. Statute XXXIX Part VI of the Christ Church Statutes provides a mechanism for a Grievance procedure for members of the Academic Staff, both in respect “to matters affecting them as individuals 33.(a)” and “(b) to matters affecting their personal dealings or relationships with other staff of the House”. This procedure does not however extend to the Head of House or other non-academic members of GB. The position of the Head of House seems to follow the practice in other Oxford College statutes and may well reflect the fact that heads of house have not been seen as employees. But in the light of the recent Tribunal decision relating to Christ Church on this point, I would recommend that the Statutes be amended accordingly. A future Head of House should have that right and I would suggest it should be added to the Statutes. The amendment will obviously have to enable the relevant decisions to be taken by another person other than the Head of House. The obvious choice would be a deputy head of the House. At present this is the Censor Theologiae. I only note here that I have suggested changes to this role in this report.
  13. Any new Head of House is obviously going to require suitable accommodation, a salary commensurate with the importance of the role and allowances for official entertainment and support as provided to the Dean in that role at present. The matter of accommodation came up a number of times during conversations in the course of my Review and I will address this issue further in this report.

Summary and Recommendations:

  • Christ Church’s current structure for its Head of House needs reform to provide a wider pool than at present from which selection is made. The Statutes should be amended to allow for the GB to select a Head of House to be recommended for appointment by the Visitor without the restriction of that person being a clerk in Holy Orders of at least seven years standing and the Dean of the Cathedral should cease to be the head of the Foundation. It will be important that the person appointed understands and accepts their responsibility under the joint Foundation to both the Cathedral and the College.
  • The appointment of the Head of House should be for a renewable fixed term of five years or something similar. A probationary period could also be considered but may deter applicants. The Head of House should be provided with and enter into a written contract setting out in broad terms the role and what is expected of them.
  • The disciplinary and grievance code in Statute XXXIX should be revised and amended. It should include “wilful disruption of the life of the College” and “wilful disobedience of any of the Statutes or By-Laws of the House in force for the time being” as grounds for dismissal. The grievance code should be amended to enable the Head of House to bring a complaint under it. A complaint against the Head of House under Statute XXXIX should be brought to the Censor Theologiae as deputy head of house. The double lock of requiring the vote of the Chapter as well as of GB to approve proceedings should be removed and the matter left to the GB inclusive of its Chapter members.
  • The Head of House will require a suitable salary and allowances, support and accommodation.


  1. The GB is, as is currently the position in all other Oxford colleges, the collective source of authority and governance. At present it numbers around 65 members who are the charitable trustees of the Foundation. It usually meets three times a term, on dates well publicised in advance, bringing together the Students, (Official, Ordinary and Fixed Term and Research), the Canons (including when in post the Dean and Sub-Dean) and the Archdeacon. They receive the reports of the many committees of the House and its Officers and note, approve or reject recommendations made to them. The GB can also be brought together to deal with extraordinary business if required. In the period of the disputes with the former Dean, such extraordinary meetings happened very frequently. There are also items of Open Business at the start of most GB meetings which are open to attendance and participation by representatives of the JCR and GCR.
  2. A look at past minutes suggests that the number of trustees in attendance at the GB in the period from 2018 to late 2021 has usually been in the forties or at best in the low fifties and on some occasions in late 2021 when frequent meetings were taking place to discuss the continuing litigation with the former Dean, only around 30 were present. Over the last six months of 2022 the attendance records show: 16/2/22 37 members with eight apologies, 20/7/22 32 members with 13 apologies, 21/9/22 31 members with 16 apologies, 19/10/22 41 members with 12 apologies, 9/11/22 43 members with 13 apologies and its continuation on 16/12/22 having 33 members present. The formal quorum besides the Chair is required only to be five.
  3. The volume of documents generated for each meeting varies but, from what I have seen, can be considerable. Some reports of committees are routine and just for noting but others require decisions to be made or are otherwise of importance. Meetings can take several hours and, during the disputes with the former Dean, some continued for nearly five hours before being adjourned to another date. The meeting I attended in October 2022 when some business of importance was being considered took well over three hours. It was well conducted and, as with others of which I have the minutes, started with notices of the need to declare conflicts of interest and to keep in mind the Public Sector Equality duty. I saw no evidence of anyone being excluded from the discussions who wished to participate. Inevitably, however, in a gathering of this size many do not do so.
  4. Documents are normally made available electronically in good time before meetings. On occasion documents of high confidentiality have only been made available to be read in hard copy in the Senior Censor’s office. As noted in the Official Warning issued by the Charity Commission there were instances during the disputes with the former Dean when decisions were taken by the GB without members of GB being given certain information relating to the disputes; apparently out of concern that material and discussions were being leaked. As a result, a fully informed discussion of the costs of the disputes and of any limits on costs did not take place. The Charity Commission considers that this made the reporting of the litigation to the trustee board inadequate as it is accepted, as was confirmed to me by some members of GB in the meetings I have held with them, that many on the GB were unaware of the full costs that were being incurred. The Charity Commission has also made separate criticism of the way the accounts were drawn up and passed by the GB in a form that did not render the litigation expenditure transparent and identifiable.
  5. A key question for me in this review has to be whether the current governance model, relying as it does on the actual participation and scrutiny of as many as 65 Trustees, is fit for purpose. If it is not so at present (and the Official Warning suggests that it was not during periods of the litigation with the former Dean), then the consequential question arises whether or not the problems are remediable while retaining GB in its present form and size or whether the adoption of some other model of governance is necessary.
  6. It is worth noting that although Christ Church has 65 trustees, there are other Oxbridge colleges that have as many and sometimes more of them. In Oxford, St John’s has 61, Merton 64, New College 69 and Magdalen 68 (and can have up to 75). While 15 Cambridge colleges have moved to a model where the trustees are confined to a Governing Council, there are still colleges that retain large governing bodies that have all members as trustees, including Peterhouse with 67, Selwyn 64 and Pembroke 62. Interestingly these are small colleges for Cambridge. Informal conversations with several heads of house in Oxford suggest that, although a large number of trustees presents challenges in terms of effective charitable governance, they consider this to be manageable. Their current structures are a reflection of settled practice and of the continuing wishes of their current trustees.
  7. As mentioned in paragraph 20 above, opinion on the best structure for the governance of Christ Church amongst members of GB is mixed; although I should make clear that I have not sought to carry out any sort of poll. Some, particularly amongst younger Official Fellows and Fixed Term Research Fellows, would favour a Governing Council model with fewer members. They are concerned at the time that has to be devoted to the meetings of the GB and by a sense of not having the necessary skills or knowledge to participate fully in its deliberations and anxiety at having a trustee’s responsibility for the affairs of a complex institution. Some are from abroad and find the concept of academic institutional self governance unfamiliar. A few are hostile to the idea that they should be obliged to become trustees of a Cathedral as part of their wider trusteeship. Other members of GB feel very strongly that having the entire membership of GB as trustees reflects the essence of collegiate governance and that, if this were to go, a key component of what makes an Oxford college both a successful and exceptional academic community would be lost. There are also a significant number whose views are much less settled on the subject but would wish to give the various options more detailed and careful consideration.


  1. If Christ Church were to move to a Governing Council model, then there are plenty of “worked” examples at Cambridge to provide information for consideration. It is also important to understand that there is no single model, as each college that has chosen to follow this route has made adaptations to suit its own requirements and traditions. In the course of this review, I have had the opportunity to discuss the models at Christ’s, St John’s and Girton colleges, and Christ Church’s sister foundation, Trinity College. It was apparent to me that all have taken this path in the manner that works for them, although, as has to be accepted in relation to all human constructs, no one lays claim to perfection for any one of them.
  2. One feature that emerges from these examples is that the creation of a “Governing Council” does not necessarily mean the transfer of all authority to a small group of trustees with the body of Fellows (as such still referred to as the “governing body”), relegated to being just employees of the institution with certain privileges. At Girton, for example, where the trustees are the “College Council” the “governing body” comprises around 110 fellows - a size that reflects that it includes junior research fellows and retired “life fellows” as well as Professorial and Official Fellows. The governing body has the power to elect honorary fellows, elect fellows to the College Council and to a few committees and, in particular, to disciplinary panels. In exceptional circumstances this large body has the power to strike down a decision of the College Council. This was described as the “nuclear” option as it would almost certainly lead to the resignation of the trustees.
  3. In addition, there is an “Augmented Council” (in reality a smaller governing body) of around 60 Fellows, that excludes the research fellows, non stipendiaries and life fellows, but includes any trustee on the Governing Council. These have the power to elect the Mistress, Vice-Mistress, Bursar and Senior Tutor; approve accounts and audits; approve major changes to the college grounds and buildings; dismiss or make redundant an academic member of staff; or deal with complaints against the Mistress.
  4. The College Council itself is made up of the 18 charity trustees. The Mistress, Vice-Mistress, Bursar and Senior Tutor are ex-officio members. There are then nine elected fellows from the larger governing body and five from students ex officio from the JCR and MCR. The Council sets strategic direction; introduces or amends ordinances (in Christ Church nomenclature by-laws); approves policies; budgets and charges; initiates and monitors projects; ensures compliance with legal obligations; elects fellows; awards prizes and makes grants and receives the reports of college committees. The fixed term for an elected member is three years.
  5. In contrast, the governing council model at Trinity, which is much the oldest, is simpler. The governing body of Fellows has become the “College Meeting” of the Master and Fellows. But it too under their Statutes (XXXIX), has ultimate power over all questions affecting Trinity, with the exception of any right to interfere in an election or an appointment or the presentation to a benefice or in any case of discipline or dismissal. This larger group has to meet at least twice a year. It approves the annual accounts. It can also be summoned by six members of the Council or 12 Fellows. Any resolution passed at a College Meeting by a majority of the whole body of Master and Fellows or by a two thirds majority of those present and voting is binding, provided 50 Fellows are present out of the approximately 180 in all. However, a mechanism exists for the Council to decide by a majority to reject the motion and thus require the motion to be put again when, if passed, it is permanently binding unless subsequently changed or revoked by another College Meeting. The “College Meeting” has responsibility for the procedure for the removal of any Master from office.
  6. Day to day management and the administration of all property and income are however in the hands of the College Council, which makes its own rules by ordinance for its governance. The Council consists of 14 members; The Master, Vice-Master, Senior Bursar and Junior Bursar ex officio; together with nine other members elected each year at a College Meeting who serve three year terms. The Council members are the Trustees. The Council meets weekly in term and can do so virtually. There are no independent members.
  7. At St John’s the Statutes are similar. The Council consists of the Master and twelve elected members from the Governing Body who together are the trustee body. But apart from the Master there are no ex-officio members. The governing body has a power to override the Council as at Trinity and to elect the Master.
  8. At Christ’s the Council consists of the Master, Senior Tutor and Bursar and ten elected members from the larger Governing Body of the college, holding office for only two years each, with half the elected members being elected annually. But again, ultimate authority can be exercised by the Governing Body by resolution passed at a College meeting.
  9. The advantages of a Governing Council system are that the burden of (a) trusteeship and (b) most decision making is in the hands of a relatively small group dedicated both to running a college and taking an overview of the impact of trusteeship duties on that task. It also allows for greater confidentiality and better management of sensitive information where needed. I was told by Trinity that the success and workability of their system is dependent on frequent informal College Meetings to discuss important issues; briefing sessions for Fellows conducted by college officers, informal advisory ballots for Fellows on any major issue; circulation of minutes of the Council to all Fellows; ability of Fellows to get a reply to any query and the invited presence, by custom, at any meeting of the Council of the Committee chair whose report is being considered if they are not on the Council. These are the advantages of trust built on good communications.
  10. As against those advantages, it is clear that service on a Council, particularly for elected members, can be a burden in terms of time and energy even for a short period and finding those willing to give it difficult. This may be particularly so in those colleges where the Council meets frequently and has both policy development and in practice quasi-executive functions, as at Trinity. But where a Council has no ex officio members and appears more policy orientated, as at St John’s, executive co-ordination has to happen by more informal meetings of and with key officers.
  11. In my view, moving to a Governance Council model does have advantages for Christ Church. This is particularly so because of the added complexity that comes from its being a joint Foundation of College and Cathedral. Ensuring that proper standards of charity trusteeship are maintained will be easier with a smaller group of trustees. The examples from Cambridge colleges do not suggest that adopting this model would render the GB insignificant or powerless. On the contrary the rotation onto a Governing Council of elected members from the GB would, over time, build a group within it with the knowledge and experience to help influence the development of the House without trustee responsibilities continuing at all times and for all. Members of GB would continue to serve on committees of the House and feed policy ideas to the Governing Council. I think there may be a danger in conflating participation in governance with trusteeship when the two roles may well overlap but are distinct.
  12. If Christ Church were to proceed with setting up a Governing Council, then the scale of its operation and the nature of the joint Foundation would necessitate having ex officio members as well as elected members. Apart from the Head of House, these I suggest should be:
    • The Dean because of their role with the Cathedral;
    • The Censor Theologiae, acting as the Deputy to the Head of House. The Censor Theologiae should be elected by the GB as Deputy, rather than just a substitute chair chosen as previously, by the Dean (with consequences I will address further on in this report, along with suggested changes for other office holders);
    • The Senior Censor, in their effective capacity as senior tutor;
    • Treasurer;
    • Steward
  13. There could then be an additional nine trustees elected by GB from amongst its members each serving three years and ineligible for re-election without having been off the Council for a three year period. This would make a total Council of 16. One of the nine elected memberships of the Council should be reserved to a member of the Chapter to ensure it has adequate representation at all times.
  14. During conversations concerning this review with members of GB, suggestions were made about others who might be on a Governing Council ex officio. Other possible candidates include the Director of Development and the Head of HR (an additional officer whose appointment has now followed on the recent decision to implement the HR report of Rosalyn Green). There was also discussion of whether a member or several members might be independents not employed or otherwise formally associated with the House.
  15. If a Governing Council is to function in a manner similar to that at Trinity, then I consider that it would be difficult to have independents on it as it would be meeting frequently in term (once a week at Trinity) and concerned in part with administrative co-ordination. The better use of independents would be in specific areas of committee work, being particularly appropriate if appointed to the Audit Committee and the Salaries Board where the risks of conflicts of interest are most likely to occur. The question of what other ex officio members should be included in any Governing Council from the officers of the House is a matter for Christ Church to decide for itself. Clearly if a Council includes a large number of ex officio members then this is likely to have undesirable consequences in terms of employed professionals dominating it. The system at Trinity aims to pair elected members of the Council with a professional employee who is delivering a particular area of college activity. Requesting the presence of a senior office holder or employee at any discussion on their area of business should in any event be routine as a matter of good practice as should the presence of the Presidents of the JCR or GCR for relevant open business.
  16. If a Council model for the trustee body were to be adopted, Christ Church will wish to define what powers remain with GB. On the Trinity and other models which I have examined, the GB fellows remain the ultimate source of authority. Being collective and exercised in relation to the assets and affairs of a charity, it is also an authority that has to be exercised in a fiduciary capacity by each member even if they are not the charity trustees. The GB would still participate in the selection of the Head of House and have control of the process, subject to the wishes of the Crown. But at Trinity the key office holders such as the Senior Tutor are appointed by the Council Members. At Girton it will be noted that it is the “Augmented Council” who elect the Mistress, Vice Mistress, Bursar and Senior Tutor. For reasons I will set out in more detail when looking at the Office holders of the House, it is my opinion that Christ Church would benefit from having a deputy Head of House elected by the members of GB. It is also my opinion that it is open to Christ Church to consider all these choices for itself. But the key, if a Council system is adopted, is that the Council members as charity trustees have day to day management of the Foundation, whilst being answerable to the scrutiny of the GB and consulting with its members to inform their decisions whenever necessary.
  17. If a Council model is adopted, then Christ Church may wish to consider what the qualifications should be for membership of GB. The pressure to keep numbers down will be substantially eased. Consideration might be given to whether other Fellows, who are doing research and participating in the life of the House should be on GB and participants in any College Meeting. I have also previously noted that Statute XVI envisages as potential candidates for election to Ordinary Studentships and therefore as GB members, the professional Librarian and the Curator of Pictures and the College Chaplain, who is also the Welfare Co-ordinator. However, this has not happened. Yet all three carry out important professional roles. It has been explained to me that in the case of the Librarian and the Curator, the absence of election is because these titular offices have been given to Official Students who supervise these areas for GB and chair the relevant Committees. But if the GB’s role alters with the creation of a Council, I would suggest this may be the right time to reconsider the position. I will also return later to the role of the Welfare Co-ordinator, who ought in my view to be a member of GB in any event.
  18. All those serving on a Governing Council should receive proper training for and induction into their roles and as to their duties and responsibilities of being charity trustees. In my experience after induction and the provision of initial information this is best organised as periodic “away sessions” for Council members. The smaller numbers also make it possible to have some periodic external review of how effectively the Council is functioning.


  1. If Christ Church wishes to keep its current model of governance through having all members of GB continuing as charity trustees, then it has to demonstrate that its current model can be made to work effectively despite its size. The central criticism which can be and is directed at this approach is that, while this model may be working elsewhere, it did not work for Christ Church during the prolonged and highly disruptive disputes with the former Dean. In other words, it did not work well under pressure. Further, the reality is that only a limited number of Trustees are really active participants. While 100% attendance at GB meetings cannot be expected, the most recent figures support the views that were expressed to me by some members of GB during this review, that the trusteeship was a burden they would prefer not to have or which at the least clashes with other priorities. As will be seen from the figures, attendance is usually around 65% of the total number of trustees, just under two thirds.
  2. It must follow from this lived reality that, if Christ Church wishes to maintain its current system of governance by the members of GB being the trustees, some greater assurance needs to be provided that there is a willingness of all to shoulder that role and that all have received the proper training to do this. There is at present no formal induction into being a trustee of Christ Church. Training is available through the University, organised by the Estates Bursars’ Committee and the Secretariat of the Conference of Colleges. This is provided by a variety of firms of solicitors delivering a three hour training session. As trustee duties evolve it would be useful if even long standing members were to attend for a refresher and some have done. But the record of attendance of recent training by GB members suggests that most members of GB have not taken advantage of this.
  3. It is noteworthy that at some Oxbridge colleges in-house training, not just in trusteeship but also in how the college functions, is highly developed. Thus, at Merton there is a designated Fellow with legal qualifications with the title of Dean and Keeper of the Statutes and By-laws (Statutes of Merton 5.2 (h) and Bylaw IV.1.(b)),who is paid a stipend for the role. It is their duty to chair a committee keeping the Statutes and Bylaws under review and advising the Warden and others on their functioning. This includes a key role in inducting new Fellows into both the duties of trusteeship and the workings of the college and its legal framework and conflicts of interest. I was informed that this system worked very well for them.
  4. At some colleges considerable effort is made to ensure attendance at GB meetings. At Magdalene in Cambridge, there is express provision in its statutes (IV.11) that a member of its governing body “who has not attended at least one half of the meetings to which he or she was duly summoned in the academic year last, shall not be entitled to vote on any business other than the appointment or removal of a Master or the making or repeal of the Statutes of the College”. An exception is made for those on leave with the consent of the governing body. Ewan McKendrick KC, in his review of governance of a number of Oxford colleges carried out in 2021, mentions unnamed colleges where personal attendance records are circulated to all governing body members every three years and even one which sends a record of attendance to the Charity Commission.
  5. In the course of this review, some members of GB have suggested that, in the light of the evidence of lack of interest by some in taking on this responsibility, a solution to the issue of trustee participation could lie in reducing the size of the GB down to the Official Students, with the possible addition of a few independents. This would bring numbers down to under 50. The rationale for this proposal would be that it is the Official Students who historically have had the greatest involvement in the governance of the House. The senior non academic officers would still attend GB but would not vote and the Fixed Term and Research Students would be removed as would the Canon professors, other Ordinary Students and the Archdeacon but not the Dean and Sub-Dean.
  6. While I accept that it is possible that such an approach might improve the percentage of attendance and participation levels, I am not persuaded that it would improve governance. One merit of the GB system is that it does allow for persons with diverse but important roles within the House to participate in and provide direct information relevant to its collective governance, which is one strength of the present system. A restriction essentially to the Official Students will much reduce that diversity, whereas a Governing Council would for practical reasons seek to maintain diversity but with smaller numbers. I am not therefore attracted to simply shrinking the size of GB as a solution.
  7. I do however consider that the current quorum of five plus the Chair for a meeting of GB is very low. In view of the current size of GB, and in the absence of any cogent reason to the contrary, I would consider 15-20 to be a more appropriate figure.


  1. There is provision in the current Statutes of Christ Church (I. 4 (b)) for the GB to set up an Executive Council consisting of such ex officio members and elected members of the GB and with such powers as may from time to time be determined by the GB through By-Laws made for the purpose. But none has ever been set up. It has been explained to me that its origin lies at the end of World War I when the GB was concerned that, in the event of another conflict, the absence of Student Fellows would make ordinary governance impossible. In my opinion this could possibly serve as the basis of a group to manage the day to day affairs of the House. But careful attention would be needed to its powers and how it communicated with the GB.


  1. A committee that does exist at present in the Statutes, is designated as the General Purposes and Strategy Committee. It was set up under the former Dean. As set out in By-Law 16A, the committee is to consist of the Dean, Senior Censor, Treasurer and six members of GB elected annually, four of whom are Official Students nominated by the Tutor’s Meeting (that is to say exclusively by the Official Students who teach), of whom one must be of under seven years appointment, one a Canon nominated by the Chapter and one an Ordinary or Research Student nominated by the Ordinary (non teaching) or Research Students. Elected members are to serve for three years and then are required to have at least one year off the committee. The Committee also has the permission to invite a list of officers of the House to attend for items of business concerning their respective areas of responsibility, but they have no vote. It was expected to meet at least once a term. But in practice this recent initiative has not lasted and is at the moment dormant by resolution of GB despite its continuing presence in the By-laws. From my conversations there was clearly concern amongst some GB members about the remit of the committee and, indeed, whether it was needed at all and about the impact of its operations on the authority of GB. It had ceased to function prior to the period of conflict with the former Dean.
  2. In my view, however, a body of some sort with a similar remit is needed at Christ Church. It ought perhaps to be better termed a General Purposes, Governance and Strategy Committee. If a Governing Council model of governance is not to be adopted then there has to be some mechanism by which the leadership of the House and its most senior officers can consult with a smaller group of elected GB members, bringing in other officers of the House to keep a general oversight of the governance of the House and to feed ideas into its committees and into the GB itself, as well as dealing with the immediate matters that may arise between GB meetings if necessary. It might, of course, over time have more powers devolved to it by the GB than are conferred on it by the existing By-laws and it should in my opinion be given the specific task of keeping standards of Charity Law compliance under review. At present the “collegiate” system of governance leaves a significant gap in obtaining any overview of how well Christ Church is functioning. The reality is that a lot of informal discussions between key individuals are taking place to fill this real gap in governance. That this must be so is clear from the formally but very generally expressed duties of the Censors, whose role is stated to be to “work with the Dean in all matters pertaining to the academic life and administration of the college” (By-Law 33 (i)). But what that means in practice is rather opaque, although it is established practice for a Dean to meet frequently with the Senior and Junior Censors with the Treasurer sometimes being present. Greater transparency and a formal structure of bringing key members of GB and staff together would undoubtedly help ensure that the GB, as a whole, has the information and advice it needs when it meets and takes decisions. It can also help reduce the instances of departmental and committee silos operating in this or any other area. It will also preclude the development of parallel governance structures (whether formal or informal) which can only lead to confusion and lack of trust.
  3. If such a Committee were set up, it should have on it the Head of House, the Dean, the Censor Theologiae, the Senior Censor, and Treasurer and a number of members elected from GB. These could be as provided for in the existing By-Law 16 A in relation to the General Purposes and Strategy Committee. The one substantive change I would suggest is that elected members should not be allowed to stand again for three years after the end of their three year term on it. It should continue to be able to ask other officers of the House to join it as non-voting members where business relevant to them is being considered. It should be convened by the Head of House with the assistance of the Secretary of the GB. If, as detailed further on in this report, Christ Church appoints a General Counsel to help on a number of legal issues then their attendance could be secured if required. Its minutes must be circulated to all on GB.
  4. Irrespective of which governance model is adopted, it would be desirable for all members of GB to be brought within the disciplinary and grievance proceeding of Statute XXXIX. I deal below with how this should be done in respect of the Canons. But it’s my understanding that there are also a small number of non-academic members of GB in the same position. Because of the terms of Section 34 of the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge Act 1923 it will be necessary to have the consent of those affected or for the change to occur only in future after they have ceased to be members of GB.
  5. Whether or not Christ Church decides to adopt a Governing Council model of governance or reform its existing system, I recommend that there should be a review of the effectiveness of the model chosen after five years have elapsed from its commencement. The review should include some independent element of evaluation of how it is functioning.

Summary and recommendations:

  • The current system of governance delivered through the GB needs significant improvement. There is a lack of interest by some members in taking on trustee responsibilities. Levels of attendance at GB are usually at best at two thirds of those eligible to attend and ought to be better. Training of all GB members as charity trustees is not adequate to meet current requirements of charity trusteeship and the size of the GB makes the discharge of charity trustee responsibilities more difficult. There is a gap in governance resulting from the practical gap between what a GB of 65 members can do when normally meeting three times a term and what is needed to oversee a complex organisation with no CEO.
  • Because of the complexity of running the joint Foundation and the size of the Governing Body, there are, in my view, strong arguments for moving to a Governing Council model, similar to those that exist at some Cambridge colleges. It would be my preferred solution. But I consider that the existing system, where the charity trusteeships are identical with all the members of GB, could be made to work sufficiently well so as to meet the requirements of the Charity Commission and effective governance management and administration, but only if significant changes are made.
  • If a Governing Council is set up, authority should still rest with the GB in a “College Meeting” as in the Cambridge models I have cited. The GB should meet at least twice a year and more frequently if summoned either by a set number of the Governing Council or a number of members of the GB. I would recommend that the same or a similar system should be adopted as at Trinity College, Cambridge, where a resolution passed at a College Meeting by a two thirds majority of those present, subject to a quorum (I would suggest 40), or by a majority of the whole of GB is binding, subject to the Governing Council being able to require the motion to be put again. The GB would manage the process of the selection of a Head of House and if necessary, their removal. The GB should elect the Censor Theologiae as a deputy to the Head of House and elect members to serve on the Governing Council who would act as the charity trustees alongside the ex officio members. The elected trustees should form the majority of the Council (inclusive of the Censor Theologiae). The GB should approve the accounts and the Audit. It should be consulted on any major policy change or initiative by the Council and on any issue of controversy. It should elect Honorary Students. It should receive the minutes of the Governing Council.
  • As the GB members will no longer be trustees, consideration should be given to whether the GB should be expanded to include individuals within the House holding key roles or participating in its life and work through Fellowships.
  • The Governing Council should comprise the members elected by the GB and, ex officio, the Head of House, the Censor Theologiae, the Dean, the Senior Censor, the Treasurer and the Steward. Consideration can be given to whether any other officers of the House should be members. But in any event, it should be required that the regular practice would be to invite non-Council members of GB who are committee chairs as well as senior staff and officers to attend any item of business relevant to their area of work.
  • Elected members should be in place for a maximum of three years and not renewable, with a three year interval before any further service on it. If there are nine elected members, apart from the Censor Theologiae, three should retire each year and the places be filled by annual elections. For the first period of three years, four of the initially elected members will therefore serve short terms. One place must be reserved for a member of Chapter.
  • All trustees on the Governing Council should receive formal induction and training on appointment and some periodic collective review of performance. Members of GB not on the Council should also receive some induction on their role and on the discharge of their fiduciary duties.
  • If Christ Church wishes to keep the existing structure of the charity trustees being identical with the members of GB, then both the level of attendance at GB meetings must be high and all members as charity trustees must receive proper training in the role before or on taking up their place. It must ensure that all are able and encouraged to participate and to actively challenge proposals and decisions in its deliberations.
  • Consideration should be given to raising the quorum of a meeting of GB, to 15 plus the Chair.
  • Non attendance at GB should be recorded, with reasons where relevant and a rule in the By-Laws should be introduced depriving any member of the GB of a vote at the GB if they have not attended at least half of its meetings in the previous academic year-those with formal leave of absence excepted. Provision could be made to allow voting rights to continue in respect of any change in the Statutes.
  • Induction and in house training should be provided to all members of GB on appointment and refreshers and updates made available afterwards. Attendance should be recorded and be considered compulsory. Voting rights should also be lost for the next academic year if participation in training has not taken place without some good reason.
  • Consideration should be given to finding a suitably qualified person to be an adviser of GB on charitable governance and to induct members of GB into the requirements of the Statutes and By-laws.
  • If overall governance and trusteeship remains with GB, a Governance and Strategy Committee should be set up to replace the General Purposes and Strategy Committee provided for in By-law16A. The Committee should be chaired by the Head of House, include the Dean, Censor Theologiae, Senior Censor, Treasurer and six elected members of GB. The system set out in By-law 16A of nomination as Committee members of two Official Students by the Official Students and a Canon, nominated by the Chapter and an Ordinary or Research Student by those groups on GB could continue and it is important the Chapter has representation. The Committee should be able and encouraged to invite any other officer to attend. The Committee should be tasked with keeping governance issues under review, promoting good governance practice and co-ordinating the resolution of day to day issues of running the House and also developing strategy for the future of Christ Church that can then be put to GB either directly or through one of the other committees.
  • All members of GB should be subject to the disciplinary and grievance procedures of Statute XXXIX. The particular position of the Canons is addressed later in this report.
  • Whichever model of governance Christ Church decides to adopt, it should carry out a review of its functioning with independent input after five years from the date of its commencement, in order to evaluate its effectiveness.


  1. As with all Oxbridge colleges, it is in the participation in committees working alongside staff of the House that members of the GB gain insight and experience and make some of their most active contributions to its governance and its effective operation and the welfare of the institution and its members and staff as a whole. In the course of this review, I have seen and heard little that suggests that this system does not in general function well. The only critical comments I received were that there was a propensity to set up more of them, and also of sub committees, than were needed. As this can add to the burden of work on members of GB and others, it may be sensible to keep this under review, particularly when new governance structures are in place.
  2. The other point that was raised by some senior staff members who attend committees, but are not members of GB, was that they sometimes felt marginalised in the decision making when their roles were vital to the delivery of the matters decided upon. Some suggested it might be better if they were full voting members of committees rather than just, as at present, invited to speak. Their argument is that, as the committees feed into GB their recommendations, any decisions are ultimately for the Trustees there and that such a change would not affect principles of governance. Their argument might be even more strongly urged if a Governing Council were to be set up, as many members of GB serving on a committee would no longer be trustees. On the other hand, it is understandable that decision making at present on committees should be in the hands of the Trustee members of GB only.
  3. It is clearly important for good governance that staff who are essential to the operation of Christ Church should feel fully involved in their areas of responsibility and able to provide their professional input to it. The fact that this issue has been raised with me by several of them independently suggests that there is a degree of frustration in their experience of the relationship and this is a matter to which I will return further in this report when dealing with the position of staff more generally. I don’t consider that this is an issue on which I should be prescriptive, but I do recommend that Christ Church should review these structures in the light of these comments. If a Governing Council were to be adopted, the arguments for having all committee attendees including professional staff as decision makers in making recommendations to the trustees on the Governing Council becomes stronger. But there may well be other ways in which a perception of senior staff of being on the margins might be addressed. Entitlement to attend, even if there is no power to vote, might address this issue. I understand that this is already the case on some committees, such as the Computing Committee.


  1. In the course of this review, there are two issues concerning individual committees which have had some prominence in discussion. The first concerns the Salaries Board and linked to it the Shared Equity Purchase Panel.
  2. As set up in Statute VIII and By-law 24, the Salaries Board has the responsibility for considering salaries and expenses relating to those engaged in teaching members of the House, those engaged in research and the salaries and expenses of members of GB or paid to persons connected with them. The Board can also, on request from GB, consider the remuneration of College Officers who are not a member of GB.
  3. The Board currently consists of the Dean, the Senior Censor, the Secretary of the Board, who is an elected Official Student, two further Official Students elected annually and three persons who are not members of GB and who must be persons who receive no remuneration from Christ Church. The Board’s purpose is to make recommendations to GB and the Statutes provide at VIII (f) and (g) that no recommendation to GB shall be made concerning the remuneration of a member of GB that has not the approval of a majority of members of the Board who are not members of GB. When recommendations are passed on to GB it can then only go below and not above any recommendation made by the Board in relation to its own members.
  4. These safeguards are properly there to deal with the inherent conflict of interest in members of GB reviewing their own salaries. But this still leaves an important role in the process to members of GB who sit on the Board and are members of it. The issue arises whether the Salaries Board should have independent members only. This point is examined in considerable detail by Ewan McKendrick KC in his report (Question 3) on the approach adopted by other Oxford colleges. It is clear that, while there are colleges that have the same model as Christ Church, in others membership consists only of individuals who are neither trustees, nor employees of the college. The purpose of this is to ensure that the Board is not just independent but seen to be independent.
  5. In the consultation for this review the point was made to me by those who have been on the Board that some of its work is complex and technical and does require a close understanding of academic salaries and comparables elsewhere and of the salary structure within Christ Church. Some concern was expressed that if the Board was to become entirely made up of independents it might have difficulty dealing with this. This is an entirely valid point, but it ought to be capable of being met by ensuring that the Head of House, Dean, Senior Censor, Censor Theologiae and two elected members of the Official Students should still be able to attend, speak but not vote. The Secretary to the Board could also continue to be an elected Official Student but with no vote. But alternatively, the Head of HR could be the Secretary, but again with no vote but with the duty of preparing the agenda and collating the materials needed for decisions to be made. There would be provision for the Board to discuss in private and an ability for them to request the presence of any other person within the House able to assist them.
  6. I also note that under By-law 24A there is provision for a panel to make recommendations to the GB in respect of a Shared Equity Purchase Scheme and Academic Accommodation. The panel consists of the Treasurer, Secretary to the Salaries Board and one other member of GB elected annually with a maximum period of five years of service. There are mechanisms in place to try to deal with any conflicts of interest including the provision of alternates and restrictions on the circumstance in which some grants can be made. It was explained to me that in practise the role of this panel is very limited, as very few cases come up for consideration and changes to tax law make this scheme appear redundant for the future.
  7. In his report (Question 8) Ewan McKendrick KC expresses concern that “the approval of any loan is given by individuals who will not benefit in any way from the loan and who will have no conflict of interest. For this purpose, a trustee who could apply for a loan of the same type as that under consideration would appear to have a potential conflict of interest. To avoid any appearance of conflict, approval should be given by individuals who are not eligible to benefit from the loan scheme.” I agree with this analysis and the Panel as presently constituted appears therefore to be conflicted despite the safeguards provided. This suggests that the better course would be to transfer this task to the wholly independent Salaries Board with appropriate input and attendance of the Treasurer, Secretary of the Board and elected member.


  1. The existence and operation of an effective Finance Committee at Christ Church lies at the heart of ensuring sound financial management, accountability and transparency. The current members are the Dean (at present the Censor Theologiae), the Senior Censor, the Junior Censor, the Treasurer, the Chapter Treasurer, the Steward, the Secretary to the Salaries Board, the Development Director, five other members of the GB and two persons who are not members of GB, but who have financial responsibilities in the House and attend but do not have a vote. I was able to attend one of its meetings and I saw nothing to suggest it did not function properly.
  2. The Charity Commission has however criticised the manner in which the costs of the litigation with the former Dean were reported in the annual accounts of Christ Church and this criticism has subsequently formed part of its Official Warning. Christ Church has however in the meantime moved from simply submitting accounts to its independent Auditor, to setting up an internal Audit Committee of its own. In By-law 7B (i) it is stated that the Audit Committee is to “meet with the Auditor before the meeting of the Finance Committee in the sixth week of Michaelmas Term, discuss the draft annual report and accounts and the management letter from the Auditor, consider any matters raised and report to the GB in the eighth week of Michaelmas Term”. The Committee consists of the same members as the Finance Committee but excludes the Treasurer, the Chapter Treasurer and the Steward and includes the addition of another member of GB to be elected annually. At present this additional member is one of two people who have been appointed independent members of GB. This member has a career in finance. The other independent member also serves on the Audit Committee.
  3. The creation of the Audit Committee is clearly a significant improvement on the previous situation for ensuring scrutiny and transparency. But as currently constituted it is my opinion that, while it may be independent of the financial officers of the House who have drafted the accounts and are not on it, it is not independent of the GB. Only one member is not on the Finance Committee and he is currently the chair of a sub-committee of the Finance Committee advising on investments, where he plays an important role, as well as being on GB itself.
  4. An examination of practises in other Oxford colleges shows that All Souls, Corpus, Jesus, Linacre, Nuffield, St Peter’s, University, Wadham, Wolfson and Worcester all now have Audit committees. Some are, as at Christ Church, entirely made up of internal members. At University College, the chair is internal but there are two independent members. At all the others the chair is external. Apart from at Linacre and University, the external members are in a majority. At Corpus and Nuffield all the members of their Audit committee are externals and at Oriel only one out of five is internal to the college. Where details are available, it is apparent that the externals are usually professionals in finance and management and in two cases the former bursars of other colleges.
  5. Another feature of these Audit committees is, that in some cases, their remit extends beyond the scrutiny of the annual accounts and the Audit to take in the Risk register, risk management and general governance, compliance with policies on conflicts of interest and, at All Souls, health and safety compliance. The committees report to the governing bodies of the colleges and have access to the head of house. In many cases the head of house, bursar and other key officers attend the meetings and can participate in discussion of the issues being examined.
  6. I am strongly of the view that Christ Church would benefit from creating such a model for itself. The starting point is that the Audit Committee should be chaired by an independent person and have a majority of independents on it. The minority can be members elected from GB, but I think it would be better if they were not members of the Finance Committee but have past financial experience or have served on the Finance Committee. The Head of House, Dean and Treasurer should attend, and the possibility exists of holding a joint meeting with the Finance Committee on the annual accounts if needed. They should also meet with the Auditor and report to GB. I would suggest the Audit Committee needs three independents, including the Chair and two members of GB.
  7. I also consider that widening the scope of the Audit Committee to take an overview of the Risk register and general governance and be able to make recommendations to GB and, if set up, any Governing Council would be very valuable. The role of such a committee would of course be advisory, but its existence would, I consider, help to provide some external and supportive oversight of governance. It ought to be possible to find suitably qualified alumni of Christ Church willing to serve on such an Audit and Risk Committee. If the House were to move to a Governing Council model, then I would suggest that while the relevant members of the Governing Council should attend, internal elected members of the Audit Committee should not be Trustees on the Council but chosen from the wider GB.
  8. Summary and Recommendations:
    • The Committee system at Christ Church in the main appears to function well. But a review of the number and purpose of committees and sub committees might help in streamlining administration.
    • Some staff attending Committees feel that they are unable to have as strong an input as they would wish. Consideration should be given to how their contribution might be enhanced. If Christ Church is moving to a Governing Council model, consideration should be given to senior staff currently attending committees being made full committee members as appropriate. Alternatively, attendance for key staff should be automatic and not just by invitation for all committees.
    • The Salaries Board should be made up wholly of independent persons for the purpose of decision making, which if determined to be necessary, should take place in private. It should be attended by the Head of House, Dean, Censor Theologiae, the Secretary to the Board and two elected Official Students able to participate in discussions but with no vote. Consideration should be given to the possibility of the head of HR being the Secretary. The Board should be able to request the attendance of others to help them if needed.
    • Consideration should be given to absorbing the Panel dealing with the Shared Equity House Purchase Scheme into the Salaries Board. Alternatively, steps need to be taken to ensure the decision makers on the panel are persons who cannot be beneficiaries under the Scheme.
    • The newly created Audit Committee, whilst a significant improvement in governance, is not independent. I recommend that an Audit and Risk Committee should be set up to replace it. It should comprise three persons independent of the GB, but appointed by GB, including an independent chair and two elected members of GB to serve terms of five years. The Head of House, Dean and Treasurer should be in attendance with other officers invited if needed. The Committee should consult with the Auditor on the independent audit and produce an annual report for GB on the accounts. In addition, the Committee should be a Risk Committee with the ability to review the Risk Register, risk management and general governance issues. If Christ Church moves to a Governing Council model the elected members of the Council should not be members of the Committee.


  1. During the review it has become clear that change is desired and necessary in a variety of ways, including in the roles of some officers of the House other than the Head of House. This discussion follows on from other changes in governance structures and processes I am recommending. I shall deal first with the roles that need significant change and then with the more general administrative issues that need attention.

The Junior and Senior Censors

  1. As explained in paragraph 13 of this report, the current functioning of Christ Church and in particular of the academic community is dependent on the work of the Senior and Junior Censors as well as other college officers. The posts of Senior and Junior Censor are expressly provided for in Statute XVI 1(a). A further description of their roles is in By-Law 33(i). There it is stated that they are to assist the Dean, be responsible to the GB for the welfare and discipline of members of the House in Statu Pupillari and for the Academic Account, which covers the projected and actual expenditure of the academic side of the House’s operations. They are to consult the Academic Committee, Finance Committee and other committees where appropriate in the discharge of their duties.
  2. Until recently neither Senior nor Junior Censor had any other job description, as both roles have evolved over time through custom and practice. The job descriptions now created show the extensive responsibilities that have been placed upon them.
  3. The Senior Censor is described as “having to be au fait with what is happening on all fronts in the College, and to be able to see how one area may affect another….”. They must “keep a close watch on the quality of governance, to ensure that all business is carried forward properly, that conflicts of interest are avoided and that procedures are understood and followed appropriately”.
  4. There are then 18 separate key functions identified as the Senior Censor’s responsibility which stretch across the whole of Christ Church’s collegiate operation. In summary they include:
    • advising and supporting the Dean on every aspect of College business and difficult welfare and discipline issues,
    • oversight and line management of the Academic Registrar and of the entire academic operation of the House, also of the Welfare Co-ordinator and overall responsibility for HR, for the Library, Picture Gallery and Welfare teams. This includes GDPR compliance and working with the Academic Registrar and academic HR manager, adherence to current legislation, statutory obligations and best practice,
    • the overall responsibility for the discipline of junior members delegating non academic discipline to the Junior Censor,
    • the preparation of the Academic Budget for the Finance Committee,
    • liaison with other college officers and the University,
    • ensuring that the Harassment Code and Students complaint policy is understood and applied by all academic administrative staff and Lecturers line managed by them,
    • oversight of the Disability and Prevent leads,
    • oversight of the website and all social media,
    • allocation of rooms to Senior Members,
    • appointing GB members on the College committees most suitable for them,
  5. The job description also details that the Senior Censor is a member of all major standing committees of the House and has an executive role in relation to all committees in preparing documents for presentation to the GB and being able to speak to them at GB meetings. They also attend a wide range of meetings on every aspect of collegiate governance and a host of House events and House related events in a representative capacity.
  6. The Junior Censor’s role is to deputise for the Senior, learn the skills necessary to do the Senior Censor’s role and to take the lead and the burden off the Senior Censor on the welfare and non-academic discipline of junior members. They too are a member of most Standing Committees, attend a wide range of other meetings including the termly meetings of the College Deans of the University and the twice termly welfare forum as well as representing the House at events.
  7. It is noteworthy that, for both the Senior and Junior Censor, the job description recommends training. For the Junior Censor this includes training in safeguarding, welfare, harassment, recruitment and implicit bias and equality and diversity. For the Senior Censor training is recommended in management and finance as well. But these are not compulsory acquired skills for their roles. The assumption is that they will be able to pick them up “on the job” themselves before or while they carry out their duties.
  8. The Senior Censor is assisted in the discharge of their “senior tutor” duties by the Academic Registrar and an academic staff team. But even with this professional assistance the workload for both Censors is extremely heavy. During the course of this review, it was represented to me from multiple sources including some past Censors, that the responsibilities of the office of Senior Censor are now extremely onerous and very hard to perform satisfactorily in all their aspects. These views are supported by the fact that it is reportedly increasingly difficult to find Official Students prepared to take the office on, despite their getting remission from teaching obligations in order to do it and some extra pay. For those heavily involved in research in their faculties the role will be even more unattractive. The skill sets for the two roles are also very different and suitability to do one does not guarantee suitability to do both successively. Yet the historic assumption has been that the person recruited as Junior Censor will do both roles in succession.
  9. It was also represented to me that the two year period as Senior Censor is really inadequate for the person selected to be able play an influential role at a University level and that the role of Senior Tutor in other colleges is being increasingly professionalised as the regulatory requirements around the work increase. Senior Tutors are typically in post for a period of at least four or five years. There are now fewer Oxbridge colleges with Senior Tutors drawn from the ranks of the academic fellows. In some cases, the role is going to a career professional in the management of the delivery of academic teaching, although sometimes working to and supervised by an academic Fellow.
  10. Concerns were raised with me by members of the academic staff and others, that the current system in place concentrates so much authority in the Senior Censor that it tends to push even quite routine decision making up to them. This adds to their burden, even though many of these decisions ought to be capable of being dealt with elsewhere. The frequent turnover of Censors was another reason for this, as it creates an inevitable degree of disruption and uncertainty. It was difficult for staff to administer policies and practices because they were sometimes unsure what would or would not be authorised or approved. Lines of devolved authority were sometimes blurred. As one illustration of the consequences of this, a Junior Research Fellow described to me having to write over ten emails to get his electronic fob programmed to open the door to a room he had been allocated for a seminar. The matter was only resolved satisfactorily by a direct personal approach to the Senior Censor.
  11. Historically the role of the Censors has evolved in part so that there was a head of the academic community as a counterweight to the actual or perceived institutionalised power of the Dean and Chapter and in recognition of the Dean’s duties in the Cathedral. The extensive responsibilities I have outlined, particularly for the Senior Censor, appear to flow from this.
  12. The Senior Censor is not only fulfilling the role of Senior Tutor, as in other colleges, but is performing a leadership role for the entire academic community and the House more generally. A decision to make the change proposed to the role of the Head of House provides an important opportunity to review the existence and roles of the Censors. In my view this is necessary if an effective leadership structure is to be put in place which can devolve all executive decision making to the right level of authority and expertise.
  13. Whatever title it is given, the multiple roles of the Senior Censor need to be changed and consolidated to create the equivalent to a Senior Tutor role as in other colleges. This needs to be focused on the successful delivery of academic teaching and holding ultimate responsibility for pastoral care of junior members and without the wider governance roles taken on currently by the Senior Censor. The selection and appointment process should be through a Nomination Committee and not, as now, by a consultative process that is managed by the ex-Censors and makes the selection from a shrinking pool of those willing and able to do the role.
  14. While there was considerable support for such a change in principle during my consultation for this review, there was also concern expressed that, were Christ Church to follow the example of other colleges, the creation of a dedicated “Senior Tutor” role would mean the professionalisation of the teaching system with the input of the Official Students, who do much of the teaching, reduced. It was feared that this could damage the unique features of the tutorial system and the ethos and the collegiality of Christ Church.
  15. I consider this concern to be legitimate, although it may be excessive. Examples from other colleges also show that this need not be the case. Christ Church has a number of options as to how to proceed. It could recruit for the role through its Nominations Committee both externally and internally and look to secure the services of a person who has had a career in university collegiate teaching and not solely in administration, as has happened at St Hugh’s. It could adopt the system at Trinity College, Cambridge where a member of the academic body takes on the role whilst still doing some teaching and doing research, twinned with a full time professional administrator as deputy Senior Tutor. But in such a case the deputy needs to be in a position and to have the status to contribute properly to the formulation of policies in this area and to be trusted to deliver them. They must not to be treated as just an executive. There needs to be consistency and certainty in decision making in such a model. The academic “Senior Tutor” needs to be appointed for a sufficient period to make an impact at University level. The key requirement must be the ability to deliver an efficient and effective programme, that meets the needs of all those teaching at the House and those being taught and which, with the assistance of a new HR department, can ensure good line management of the academic, administrative and teaching staff who are essential to the successful delivery of the teaching and learning.
  16. This change would then offer the opportunity to reform the role of the Junior Censor and the structures for welfare and junior member discipline. At present the Junior Censor does both welfare and non-academic discipline. This is a system which has been changed in many Oxbridge colleges to separate the two functions and to create a separate and professionalised welfare function to meet the growing need for welfare support for students. The argument for this is that, if the two elements are combined, it acts as an inhibition on students seeking help when they need it. At the same time there does have to be some crossover as disciplinary, academic and welfare issues are often mixed together.
  17. Again, I consider that there are a number of ways in which Christ Church might choose to proceed and it needs to match the structure it creates to its own needs. At Trinity College, Cambridge, for example, the ultimate responsibility for welfare lies with the Senior Tutor. The professional leadership of the welfare team is through the Wellbeing and Mental Health Advisor working with the two college chaplains, an Academic Skills Tutor and the College Nurse. Christ Church is already operating a welfare team with a Welfare Co-ordinator and I heard a lot of praise of their work. The only point expressed at JCR level was the view that welfare should be under the oversight of a professional in the field, although it was also made clear that the current Chaplain was regarded as outstanding in this role. She also has, I understand, the professional qualifications. I did also note that the College Nurse is treated as an employee of the Steward’s department, despite her role being important with undergraduate students. While she also has a wider role for staff health, it might be sensible to bring the College Nurse into the line management arrangements for welfare provision at Christ Church. But again, these are details which I think do not require an outsider’s guidance beyond pointing out the need. The key point on this, is that the Welfare Co-ordinator is a senior role, reporting to the Senior Censor and on the relevant committees and able to attend the GB when required and in charge of the welfare team. If the Welfare Co-ordinator were in future to cease also to be the Chaplain, then any Chaplain should be part of the team.
  18. Summary and recommendations:
    • The office of Senior Censor requires fundamental change, both because its duties are too wide and because they do not fit with a leadership model for Christ Church under a new Head of House who will be more focussed on the leadership of the academic community as I have proposed.
    • Both the Senior and Junior Censor should be selected and appointed through a Nomination Committee and the role of the Senior ex-Censor and the Ex-Censors in the By-laws in this respect brought to an end. There should be no automatic move from the “Junior” to the “Senior” role. The Senior role should be externally advertised.
    • What is currently the Senior Censor role should be limited to and fulfil the role of Senior Tutor in charge of the delivery of the teaching and the overall welfare of undergraduate students and the Statutes and By-laws altered to reflect this. If this role is to be undertaken by a member of the academic body with other responsibilities (whether in teaching or research) then it should be twinned with a professional deputy with the autonomy and authority to carry out the administration of the system, with the “Senior Censor” able to supervise the delivery of the teaching and focus on policy issues, co-ordination at University level, academic discipline and the supervision of Welfare provision.
    • The Junior Censor should perform the role of a Dean for undergraduate non- academic discipline.
    • The Welfare Team should be operated separately from the Junior Censor under the supervision and control of the Welfare Co-ordinator. The Welfare Co-ordinator must have appropriate qualifications, skills and experience to co-ordinate mental health and wellbeing throughout the House. If in future the role of Welfare Co-ordinator and Chaplain were to become separated, any Chaplain should remain part of the welfare team.

The Censor Theologiae

  1. Most Oxford and Cambridge colleges have a deputy to the Head of House. They play a vital role in supporting the Head of House in the performance of their functions, sharing some of the burden of the work and standing in for them when needed. But a key role is acting as a friendly advisor, being able to represent the concerns and ideas of members of the academic body to the Head of House. The deputy head is usually elected by the governing body and enjoys their confidence as well as that of the Head of House.
  2. At Christ Church the role of the Censor Theologiae under the Statutes has evolved somewhat differently. Statute XII 2(a) provides that “the Dean shall appoint a Censor Theologiae from among the members of GB. (b) The Censor Theologiae shall act as the Dean’s deputy in all matters relating to order and discipline and the general superintendence of the House, in case of the Dean’s absence…” I am informed that, at one time, the person selected was usually a Canon but that more recently Deans have appointed members of the academic body as well. With a Dean in post, the role was described to me a having negligible duties and this is reflected in the fact that the Statutes and By-Laws give the Censor Theologiae no other formal role.
  3. By way of comparison, at Merton, the Sub-Warden would be the point of reference for any disciplinary complaint against the Warden. But at Christ Church this role is performed by the Senior ex-Censor (Statute XXXIX part VII). The Censor Theologiae is not ex-officio a member of Committees unless the Dean is unavailable, whereas in many colleges they serve on Committees alongside the Head of House and sometimes chair some of them. This again is a reflection of the fact that at Christ Church the Senior Censor really fulfils this role as well as being senior tutor. At present, however, in the long term absence of a Dean, the Censor Theologiae has become responsible along with the Senior Censor for leadership at Christ Church and is the effective Head of House.
  4. In my view the office of Censor Theologiae, whether or not it keeps this name, should change to become that of a deputy head of house and the key support of the Head of House and link with the GB. The office should be elected by the members of GB and a set period of years placed on doing it. It should be remunerated by an increased stipend and take on those wider non academic roles within the governance of the House that have previously fallen largely to the Senior Censor. They should be a member of all main committees. The role might also include chairing some of the committees of the House where appropriate where this can relieve the burden on the Head of House without compromising the Head of House’s role.
  5. Summary and recommendation:
    The role of Censor Theologiae should be turned into that of a deputy to the Head of House, present on key committees not as a substitute for the Head of House, but able to work alongside them and help them with the delivery of good governance. The Statutes and in particular XII and XVI will require amendment to do this. The Censor Theologiae should be elected by the GB to hold the office for a period of no more than two years.


  1. During the course of the review, I have noted the substantial sums Christ Church has been spending on getting legal advice. Although exceptionally high costs were incurred in the highly litigious disputes with the former Dean and its consequences, a trend has developed in which lots of relatively minor issues end up requiring the involvement of external lawyers. I am aware that steps are being taken to try to reduce this dependency and the issue features in Rosalyn Green’s review. The presence of a fully professional HR department may in itself reduce the need for external legal advice.
  2. It seems to me, however, that the volume of work involving legal input at Christ Church is likely to continue sufficiently high for the House to consider retaining a General Counsel on a part time, or even full time, basis as it should save a considerable amount of money compared with current arrangements. With competencies in Employment, Education, Equality and Charity Law and general governance they would be able to provide advice and help the work of the various departments of the House as well as GB. If on the Solicitor’s Roll they would be able to instruct counsel directly or to identify the right firm of solicitors for particular work and negotiate terms with them to keep costs down as much as possible. They should not be a member of GB or, if set up, a Governing Council. But they could and should be invited to attend at any meeting where advice is needed.
  3. Summary and recommendation: 
    The volume of legal work at Christ Church justifies recruiting a part or full time General Counsel to provide legal advice.


  1. In the course of this review, I received representations from some members of GB and from academic and other staff that the general administration of Christ Church could be improved along with staff participation and satisfaction with their roles.
  2. In her Human Resources Review, Rosalyn Green has made a series of recommendations for significant change in the way Christ Church is run. As Christ Church has decided to adopt her report, it will in the near future have a Director of HR and will have brought the entirety of both college and Cathedral under a single HR structure that should help both overcome the rather siloed administrative structures that exist at present and provide much more opportunity for staff concerns to be satisfactorily addressed. In the context of this report I entirely endorse what she has proposed.
  3. While the report of INEQE on Safeguarding is not yet available, I understand that significant recommendations will be made for improving its functioning. An issue may arise as to where responsibility for Safeguarding should lie. I understand that Rosalyn Green is of the opinion that its best location would be within the HR Department and I agree with this suggestion.
  4. The restructuring that may take place when Rosalyn Green’s report is implemented and, if the recommendations I have made are actioned, will also offer scope for looking at other aspects of administration, in consultation with those staff who may be affected. Without wishing to be prescriptive as to remedies there were a number of matters I have picked up that I consider need attention.


  1. In the course of the review, it was represented to me from within the Treasurer’s office that there is a need for the role of Treasurer to be readjusted and the department structure changed. At present the department has responsibility for a multiplicity of areas of financial management. These include oversight of the management of property holdings and bringing in revenue from agricultural land, commercial buildings and housing as a landlord and the development, where appropriate, of Foundation land and property and responsibility for Christ Church’s significant investment portfolio of assets other than land and buildings. The recent substantial increase in the value of the Endowment is impressive. But there is also the need to manage expenditure in all areas to ensure efficiency and transparency. These are issues that form part of the Charity Commission’s areas of concern. The Treasurer needs of course to be in overall control and answerable to and a member of the GB (or a Governing Council if one is set up pursuant to my recommendations). But there is also a need for senior staff acting as deputies with the right specialisms to cover these individual areas of work. Some progress has already been made in that an independent trustee, with external financial experience, has been appointed, chairing the Investment sub-Committee. As previously discussed, the work of the Treasurer’s Department needs to be both supported and challenged, where necessary, by adequate internal oversight from the Finance Committee and external from the Audit and Risk Committee.
  2. As an example, another matter raised by the Charity Commission was that the name of the former Dean remained on registers as director of Christ Church subsidiaries for some months after it should have been removed when he resigned. Enquiry shows that this was an oversight and appears to have had no adverse consequences whatever. The failure is however illustrative of the fact that the Treasurer’s Office is operating under considerable pressure and it emphasises the need for some fresh thinking as to its organisation and management.
    1. 154. The Steward’s Department which oversees the provision of domestic services and catering within the House has not featured much in the conversations that have taken place during this review. It appears to operate efficiently and effectively and will be greatly assisted by the arrival of professional HR to support it. But several consultees raised with me the SCR, for which the Steward’s Department has the responsibility to provide services, but which enjoys a high level of autonomy in how it operates with its own elected officers. That autonomy must not be at the expense of accountability for the way it functions. Responsibility for ensuring this, lies not just with the Steward as officer with responsibility for its staff, but with GB as a whole, as the source of authority within the House, particularly as all are members of the SCR.
  3. The delivery of teaching, welfare and support and maintaining a discipline structure for undergraduate and graduate members of the House cannot be done successfully without the support of both the Academic Secretariat and the particular role of Lecturers who do a significant proportion of the teaching.
  4. As previously noted, there is a sense amongst academic management staff that they are not fully valued as professionals or used to best advantage in the delivery of the teaching programmes and other areas of work.
  5. In the case of Lecturers, the concern was that they were unable to provide as much input as they would wish into the teaching. They were not invited automatically to Tutors Meetings. This is despite the fact that four of the Stipendiary Lecturers on permanent contracts are teaching more than six hours a week, as are another 12 on fixed term contracts. This is a total of hours which is assessed as a “substantial tutorial responsibility”. In the case of those on permanent contracts the teaching is often ancillary to research at a high level in their faculties. In some cases, the absence of an Official Student tutor on sabbatical has meant that they are handling most of the teaching themselves. But I understand this has now been addressed and that certain permanent lecturers are automatically being invited to attend.
  6. If Christ Church implements the changes I have recommended to the role of the Senior Censor in order to focus that role on the “Senior Tutor” element in partnership with a senior professional, I would therefore recommend that an early area of focus should be discussing these and similar issues with these groups with the aim of examining how their sense of involvement might be increased and how they can best contribute to the areas of work in which they are involved.
    1. As mentioned at the start of this report, I found during this review that Christ Church generates a strong sense of loyalty amongst staff and a willingness to provide the work and mutual support needed to deliver its charitable objects at all levels.
    2. But it is also a feature of collegiate institutions that they are hierarchical. Members of GB and those others who enjoy the benefits of membership of the SCR and, for some the common table, are in a privileged position. That position is one which is also important in providing a setting for gatherings which assist them in their work.
    3. But there are many members of staff without which Christ Church could not function who fall outside this category. An issue that emerged during this review was that the dining room for lunchtime meals for staff, located in the kitchen yard, was cramped and inadequate. Having seen this facility for myself I considered this criticism to be valid. Seeing that the Hall used by undergraduate and graduate students at lunchtime has spare capacity, it seemed to me that this issue could be easily addressed in term time by identifying dedicated table space within it for staff taking lunchtime meals. I am very pleased that this has now been done.
    4. Summary and recommendation:
      In the course of the review issues of administration in the Treasurer’s, Steward’s and Academic departments and in relation to staff wellbeing came up. As Christ Church embarks on a process of governance change, they are areas which should have priority for attention once those changes have been decided upon, in order to ensure that all staff are informed, consulted and willing participants in them.


  1. Although the Dean may not any longer be the Head of House under the proposals for change I have made, the activities of the Cathedral will continue as a very important part of the charitable purposes of the joint Foundation. Christ Church Cathedral is more than a large college chapel, even if that is one of its uses. As was explained to me in detail by those I consulted who are connected with the Church of England, the Diocese of Oxford, the University, the City and the County, it is one of the focal points of religious, civic and community life for all of them. As well as its daily services, it hosts services for special events, an example being those around the death of the Queen Elizabeth II and also an annual cycle of services including the Judges Glove Service and Sermon and the St Frideswide service as well as carol services in Advent and Christmastide. It has regular worshippers at both its Sunday services and daily evensong and is the focus of pilgrimages, liturgical, missional and charitable activities. Many of these activities also include welcome and hospitality and the Deanery, when available is used as well as other parts of Christ Church and its gardens for a wide range of entertainment and other functions and is sometimes made available to the Lord Lieutenant and High Sheriff for award ceremonies recognising volunteers and others in the community. The Cathedral is also the setting for concerts, lectures, exhibitions, dance and drama. It has a world class traditional cathedral choir including boys as well as a girls’ choir, the Frideswide Voices. There is also a voluntary choir of Cathedral Singers and a College choir. The Cathedral is supported by the work of several hundred volunteers and by the Friends of the Cathedral who raise funds to help it with its work, but do not have any separate charitable status. There are also 52 Honorary Canons and Honorary lay Canons, who meet once a year and are invited to services, and four Ecumenical Canons.
  2. The governance for all matters reserved under Statute I.5 lies with the Dean and Chapter.
  3. In normal times, the Cathedral Chapter comprises, as well as the Dean, six residentiary canonries of which three are held by the Canons who are also Regius Professors within the University and one by the Lady Margaret Professor who is a University appointment. They automatically become members of GB on appointment. Two others are held by the Sub-Dean and the Archdeacon who are also on GB. The Diocesan Canon is not a GB member, is provided with a residence paid for by the Diocese elsewhere and is a member of Chapter. In attendance at Chapter meetings are the Organist who is a member of GB and an Official Student in his role as a Tutor in Music and the College Chaplain, the Precentor and the Registrar and other staff when relevant. The Cathedral also employs an assistant organist, six lay clerks and two full time and two half time vergers. The total staff numbers currently 24 people. Undergraduate students at the House provide the academical clerks in the choir and also one Junior and one Senior Organ scholar, all of whom are essential for the Cathedral’s operations.
  4. Under Statute I.6, it is the Dean and Canons only and not the Dean and Chapter, that have reserved responsibility for the “Schoolteacher and choristers provided for under the Statutes”. This is a reflection of the fact that the Diocesan Canon is an episcopal appointment and not on GB. The Choir aspires to having twenty boys as a full complement. In practice, and for some considerable time, the way of providing a boys’ choir is through the existence of Christ Church Cathedral Choir School. This currently has around 145 pupils and is a mixed nursery but boys only pre-prep and prep school, that also provides the choirs for Pembroke and Worcester colleges. With a maximum possible complement of about 160 it can break even financially and pay for itself, but this is not the position at present post the Covid pandemic which reduced entries, although they are now rising again. Places are fee paying but there is a reduction for the choristers, and scholarships and financial support for children whose parents cannot afford the full fees. The School Governors are the Dean and Canons, but their work is supplemented by a group of “advisory governors” drawn from parents and education professionals. But as the School of itself is not a reserved matter for the Dean and Canons, its funding and operation comes into the sphere of responsibility of the GB, which has responsibility for staff salaries and pensions. This is set out in Statute VII. 2. There is a committee of GB that has a general oversight of the operation of the School. When last inspected by an Independent Schools’ Inspectorate inspection in 2017 it was rated “Excellent” for academic and other achievements and for pupils’ personal development. Since then, some minor regulatory compliance issues have been satisfactorily addressed.
  5. Finally, in considering the ecclesiastical roles of the Foundation, it needs noting that Christ Church is the patron of 79 parish livings with rights of presentation. The superintendence of this is in the hands of its Benefices Committee under Statute 5, which consists of the Dean and Chapter and two members of GB elected annually. There is also under By-Law 7A the Archdeacon’s Committee consisting of the Archdeacon, the Sub-Dean, the Treasurer, a Canon and an annually elected member of GB. This committee makes grants from reserved funds to support incumbents of benefices in the gift of Christ Church and to support persons in holy orders employed by the House on Church salary scales.
  6. During the course of my review, I have received a wide range of representations, other than those relating to replacing the Dean as Head of House, concerning the current structure of the Cathedral’s governance and organisation and its relationship with the rest of the governance and organisation of Christ Church. The key representations can be briefly set out as follows:
  7. The Diocese of Oxford and the wider Church were concerned to ensure that in making any change to the requirement that the Head of House be the Dean, the Cathedral should be enabled to continue to develop its work as a place of mission at the heart of the Diocese, while respecting its exceptional location and the needs of the academic community around it. There was a desire expressed for alignment more closely with the changes envisaged in the Cathedrals Measure 2021 and to enable its governance to include lay representation, although it was recognised that the Cathedral is expressly excluded from the 2021 Measure. It was suggested that some form of episcopal oversight of the Cathedral might be considered such as exists in other Cathedrals. Some concern was expressed that if the Dean should cease to be Head of House, that might leave the Dean and Chapter exposed to undue and unwanted pressure from the GB as to how the Cathedral functions, undermining the express reservations of governance to the Dean and Chapter/Canons in the Statutes.
    • Some non-Chapter members of GB were concerned about the future evolution of the Cathedral and wished for a greater say by GB in its functioning. It was argued that, as trustees of the Foundation, non-Chapter members were unable to discharge their trusteeship responsibilities properly in this regard, as the areas of the operation of the Cathedral reserved to the Dean and Chapter in the Statutes made this impossible. It was also advanced that the Cathedral might in its work promote controversy that could damage the Foundation and in particular be at variance with the principles of equality and diversity with which the academic body of Christ Church identifies. It was suggested that undergraduate students might be put off coming to Christ Church by the presence of the Cathedral which could be seen as at variance with the ethos of Christ Church as an academic institution of the University.
    • Concerns were raised by some members of GB that the Dean and Chapter could be conflicted in their own role as trustees of the joint Foundation by their duty of canonical obedience when at meetings of the GB of which they are members. This was principally put forward as an argument for splitting the joint Foundation. But on the basis it was kept together, it was raised as a governance issue on which my view was sought.
    • Concerns were raised by some members of GB that if the Dean ceased to be Head of House, it was unclear whether or not they could still be subject to the disciplinary provisions of Statute XXXIX as their role in the academic community would cease and the Statutes make the Dean and Chapter or Dean and Canons answerable only to the Visitor for the powers they exercise under Statutes I.5 and I.6 in respect of the Cathedral, Chapter House, Canonries, Cloister House and the Cathedral staff.
    • Concerns were also raised about the position of the Canon professors. Although made members of GB on appointment by the University, their appointments are made by the University and not by Christ Church and disciplinary issues, if they arise, would have to be dealt with by the University, with Christ Church unable to take action and yet having the responsibility of providing them with housing and that part of their stipend which reflects their duties as a Canon of Christ Church. Similar concerns were also raised about the position of the Sub-Dean and the Archdeacon in that they have no contract with Christ Church despite working in the Cathedral and residing within the House.
    • It was suggested by some members of GB that this review ought to be an opportunity to reconsider the physical buildings and appurtenances of Christ Church, other than the Cathedral, Chapter House and Cloister House which are under the control of the Dean and Chapter. The reconsideration was proposed particularly in relation to the Canonries which take up a significant part of Tom Quad and were thought to be too large as modern domestic quarters and might usefully be put to collegiate use. It was also argued that the Deanery ought to become the residence of the new Head of House and the Dean moved elsewhere within Christ Church.
    • Some issues were raised concerning the School. The duty to maintain a Choir for the Cathedral was accepted as was the excellence of the School in what it did, particularly in the field of Music. But there were differences of view as to how the provision of a world class choir might best be maintained and developed in future and about the fee paying nature of the School and how this fitted with the ethos of the House as an academic community.
  8. In my view, the broad terms and intentions of the 1867 Act that protects the Cathedral from interference in its operations, whilst keeping it within the joint Foundation for its funding, cannot be interfered with without the risk of upsetting a carefully crafted compromise. There is also no readily discernible alternative, if the Foundation is not to be split. I also do not see that compromise as being difficult to maintain, let alone unviable in today’s circumstances. In saying this I am mindful of the concerns expressed by some members of GB that they are worried about being trustees of the Foundation without complete control over part of its operation. But I see this anxiety as misplaced. The duty as a trustee has to be limited by the terms of the Statute and the Statute makes clear that the non-Chapter trustees are not responsible for the areas of governance reserved to the Dean and Chapter who answer directly to the Visitor for them. I accept that this could still, at least in theory, mean that activities in connection with reserved matters at the Cathedral might have a reputational impact on Christ Church generally, but this is a risk inherent in the joint Foundation and to date it has not produced significant difficulties. From my own observations the governance by the Dean and Chapter of the affairs of the Cathedral appears to be competently discharged and I heard no complaint from the Chapter side of any failure by the GB to provide adequate funds to meet the Cathedral’s needs even if there was anxiety that this might happen in future and the Cathedral thus be held back in its mission.
  9. I also do not accept that there is some inherent conflict of interest between being a member of the Chapter and a member of GB, through the duty of canonical obedience of those who are ordained. All trustees have to have the best interests of the entire Foundation in mind in all their decisions. If a person considers that a specific conflict arises on a particular decision, then they withdraw from the decision making. My general conclusion is that, despite the recent problems between the former Dean and the GB, the intersection of the two elements of the joint Foundation functions well. Further, my discussions with undergraduate and graduate students and my request for their written submissions on their experience of coming to or being at Christ Church raised no assertions of anyone being put off by the presence of a Cathedral at its heart.
  10. It is, however, in my opinion, essential that the principles of autonomy and protection from interference for the Dean and Chapter or Dean and Canons in the management of the Cathedral and its associated functions, provided for in the current Statutes be maintained, while also maintaining an effective operation throughout Christ Church with common standards. If it were not, then the loss of that autonomy would undermine the Cathedral’s ability to fulfil one part of the charitable objects of the Foundation to provide the Cathedral of the Diocese of Oxford.
  11. It is noteworthy in this regard that the parallel reviews that have been taking place into HR, Safeguarding and Sexual Harassment will all impact both the Cathedral and the rest of Christ Church. The HR recommendations are being implemented and it is likely that those that come out of the other reviews will be as well. As any changes will apply across the whole Foundation (apart from Safeguarding having to have an internal lead in the School), it should help ensure common standards in these areas being supervised and implemented by the same professional staff. Other key support services being provided, in relation to the buildings and the state of the physical environment, are shared as well. This should all help provide some assurance to all GB members of the soundness of the Cathedral’s operations and that future changes in these areas will be undertaken in common.
  12. Just as part of the aim of this review is to assist in enabling the academic community of the House to evolve to meet current challenges, so it also has to be accepted that the Cathedral too must be enabled to evolve to meet some of the needs of being a working Cathedral in the 21st century. At the same time the Dean and Chapter should act in a manner that is mindful of the Cathedral’s presence within an academic community and in a joint Foundation. The issue of the Dean and Chapter being able to create a wider Board with non executive participation to assist them in the operation of the Cathedral and to build links with the wider community in line with the intentions expressed in the Cathedrals Measure 2021, is therefore pertinent and ought to be facilitated.
  13. On the basis that the “reserved powers of the Dean and Chapter” are formally delegated from GB, the creation of a board to manage the operations of the Cathedral could only be done by a change to the Statutes, as otherwise it would infringe the principle of delegatus non potest delegare. My own reading, however, of Statutes I. 4 and I.5 leaves me of the view that the powers “reserved” to the Dean and Chapter in the Statutes are arguably not “delegated” from GB but come directly from the Crown in the Statute. As long as their powers are not alienated, this would mean that the Dean and Chapter would have the power to set up a Board even without a change to the Statutes. Any Board, however, could not have a role for any aspect of the financing of the operation of the Cathedral by the Foundation, for which the Dean and Chapter negotiate directly with the GB and have to provide an annual account to GB, under Statute 1.5 (b).
  14. Whichever view may be correct, the opportunity of a change to the Statutes, ought to involve giving to the Dean and Chapter of the Cathedral an express power to set up, if they wish, a Board as a Committee of the Chapter to assist with its operations and strategy. As Christ Church is not subject to the Cathedrals Measure there is no requirement that such a Board should mirror its intentions exactly and indeed it would be impossible to do so without interfering in its independence. Such a Board could also allow for a direct Diocesan input in building the connections the Cathedral needs for its wider mission to the Diocese. There will still be the continuing duty of an annual account to GB by the Dean and Chapter of all monies received from the Foundation for the Cathedral. But there is and should be nothing to prevent the Dean and Chapter having externals on any such Board who can help with financial management and strategy or in other respects. Even if only advisory the need for the Dean and Chapter to state reasons from departing from any advice given by such a Board can help introduce improved rigour into decision making.
  15. I consider, however, the Diocesan suggestions of greater formal episcopal oversight over the Cathedral in line with the Cathedrals Measure 2021 as being difficult in practice to implement without undermining the independence that the joint Foundation enjoys, subject always to the Visitor’s authority. I understand that if the Bishop of Oxford became the Ordinary and/or the Visitor, then Christ Church would cease to be a “Peculiar Royal Foundation” free of episcopal authority which has been hitherto its essence. There is, however, no reason why the Dean cannot continue to be the Ordinary and a Crown appointment even if the Dean is no longer the Head of the Foundation and the chair of GB. While I can see that the Bishop becoming Visitor of the Cathedral might have some advantages in the event of problems in and discrete to the Cathedral, to formally give the Bishop this role would be incompatible with the role of the Crown as Visitor of the entire Foundation which includes the Cathedral. There is also nothing to suggest that having the Dean as the Ordinary in his own church has caused problems in the past, even if current practice is that the diocesan Bishop usually has this role in cathedrals as well as parishes. In this respect the Cathedral is no different from some Oxbridge college chapels. I do not therefore recommend any change in this area which could impact on the independence of the Foundation under the supervision of the Crown.
  16. There is, however, nothing to prevent the Crown, in the event of a problem occurring exclusively within the Cathedral, which required the intervention of the Visitor, appointing the Bishop of Oxford as its delegate in order to address it. Provided there is consent from the Crown, such a provision (including some other alternate) could even be explicitly stated in the Statutes as being the process envisaged in such a case, to provide some assurance of regularity. This preserves the status of the Crown as Visitor and allows for flexibility in the event that the issues involved might make the appointment of some other delegate than the Bishop of Oxford more appropriate. I understand that this approach is seen as being possible under ecclesiastical law.
  17. While as I explained earlier, the broad terms and intentions of the 1867 Act needs to be maintained, the wording of Statute I.5 and I.6, that reserves the powers of the Dean and Chapter and Dean and Canons from the powers assigned to GB, is archaic and lacks clarity. Reference is made at I5(a) to “all powers hitherto lawfully exercised by the Dean and Canons or the Dean and Chapter in respect of…” This begs the question of what those powers were and to what date in the past they are being referenced. Similarly, the phrase “The Dean and Chapter shall have in respect of such things and persons, all the powers now vested in them, or ordinarily vested in the Dean and Chapter of a Cathedral Church, subject only to the provision of Statute IV” begs the question as to which powers ordinarily vested in Deans and Chapters are being referenced and to what date. My own conclusion based on the rules of statutory interpretation and purpose is that both statements are about the position as it existed immediately prior to the passing of the Act of 1867, save where Christ Church has since been included in any part of a Cathedrals Measure-something which has only rarely occurred. This also seems to be the way it has been interpreted at Christ Church ever since. The ambiguity in the wording is however obvious and the preparation of new Statutes offers an opportunity for redrafting those clauses to better define the powers reserved to the Dean and Chapter and Dean and Canons.
  18. It needs to be emphasised however that the purpose of such a redrafting is to produce greater clarity, not to change the balance of the central governance relationship between the Cathedral and GB.
  19. The Cathedral does need to be able to build its relationship and engagement with the outside community in the City<, County and Diocese. This is not disadvantageous to the Foundation generally or the academic community in particular. In this regard I have also considered the position of the Friends of the Cathedral. This organisation provides volunteers to help the Cathedral in its work and raises funds which have historically been allocated to discreet projects in the Cathedral such as setting up its Live Streaming and audio/video facilities. In the past its principal source of fundraising was through the Christ Church shop which was located in the Chapter House. The removal of the shop to the Thatched Barn has led to the direct income being lost, although the Cathedral is receiving more funds from the Foundation to reflect the income being generated for Christ Church collectively from the shop. The Friends have no separate status and all funds raised are paid to Christ Church although the Friends have discretion as to their use. Some amongst the Friends have indicated a desire to have a separate charitable status, so as to be able to reflect the Cathedral’s role and support in the wider community. By virtue of the Foundation’s duties to the Cathedral, the latter enjoys considerable financial security and this is added to by the existence of the Christ Church Music Trust, which is a fund of the main Foundation which supports the Choir and music. But there is a sentiment that it lacks any financial autonomy and an independent fundraising and support arrangement would be helpful to it.
  20. I agree with this sentiment and see no reason why the Friends should not be constituted as an independent charity to support the Cathedral, with appropriate representation from the Chapter and the Diocese on its board. Nothing in its work and remit will be interfering with the Foundation’s key role in providing for the Cathedral. It may provide some greater autonomy for projects at the Cathedral which can supplement the funds the Foundation provides and provide a vehicle for participation by the wider community.
  21. It is my understanding that the Christ Church Cathedral (Ecclesiastical Exemption Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Order 2010 art 8, exempts the Cathedral from listed building consent. But it also the case that the Cathedral is not subject to the faculty jurisdiction of the Diocese or of that for cathedrals. It does have a Fabric Advisory Committee, but this is an informal body whose recommendations can be disregarded. An exemption from all formal scrutiny systems cannot be justified and risks reputational problems for the Cathedral if works or changes to its historic fabric need no independent scrutiny and permission. Seeing its Cathedral status, it should in preference be subject either to the Faculty jurisdiction of the Church of England as a cathedral or, as a Peculiar, it should have a Fabric Advisory Committee of its own with power to make a reference to the Cathedral Fabric Commission. It has been suggested that Christ Church could seek to submit to the Cathedrals Fabric Commission on a voluntary basis. This seems a sensible approach. Discussions should be initiated with the Church of England to see how this issue might be resolved.


  1. As explained in paragraph 49, the Dean will remain head of the Cathedral even if, as I have proposed, the Dean is no longer Head of House. The Dean will no longer be responsible for “order and discipline and the general superintendence of the House” but will continue to have to be so responsible for the Cathedral or its ability to function independently as a part of the joint Foundation and independently as a cathedral will be undermined. The Dean as such must both be a member ex officio of GB and their work in and in relation to the Cathedral protected from interference. The Dean will remain a Crown appointment and unless the terms of the Cathedral Measures Act 2021 are ever extended to them, will be the beneficiary of an ecclesiastical freehold and entitled to remain in office to the age of 70.
  2. One of the concerns expressed by some members of GB is what mechanism would exist to bring a disciplinary matter against the Dean when the Dean ceases to be head of house. It is argued that there can then be no basis for the Dean being subject to Statute XXXIX as they will no longer be an employee of Christ Church but a Church of England Office holder and this would leave the Dean only subject to the Clergy Discipline Measure (CDM). But the answer should be to change Statute XXXIX to make explicit that the Dean is subject to it by being included as “any person holding a full time Office designated by the Governing Body to which this Statute applies”. They will then be dismissible for “good cause” as defined in the amended XXXIX 5 (a) which I set out in paragraphs 55-58 above. Part VII as currently drafted deals with the Dean as Head of House. But in view of the fact that the position of the Dean under the new arrangements would still be exceptional in having independent ecclesiastical functions, I consider that the “double lock” of consent to proceedings having to be given by both a majority of GB and of the Chapter needs to be retained. The complaint should be made to the new Head of House.
  3. It has been suggested that the mechanism I have just set out might not be possible, because the Dean is answerable only to the Visitor for powers reserved to the Dean and Chapter and will no longer have any role outside of them. But I think this is a misreading of the Statutes. The former Dean did not seek to argue that an alleged incident of misconduct in the Cathedral Sacristy was a matter concerning a reserved area of which the GB and Chapter could not make a complaint under Statute XXXIX. The reservation is there to protect the independent operation of the Cathedral as a place of Christian worship. It should not extend to personal misconduct that applies to a GB member in Holy Orders as much as to anyone else on GB. In saying this I note from my discussions that it has not been suggested by the Church of England that such a provision would be unacceptable to it, provided the parallel jurisdiction of the CDM is maintained as well. I would hope therefore that this provision could be made with consent from all parties.
  4. The potential also exists for friction between the Dean’s role and that of the new Head of House. But careful amendment of the Statutes ought to be able to address this and advice on its drafting will be required. In my view Statute XII 1. relating to the powers and responsibilities of the Dean at present, needs to be transferred to the new Head of House. But a new provision then has to be included in the powers reserved to the Dean and Chapter, to state that “subject to the provisions of these statutes and the powers and responsibilities of the Head of House under them, the Dean shall be responsible for the order, discipline and general superintendence and operation of the Cathedral and of all matters reserved under these statutes to the Dean and Chapter and Dean and Canons”. This should still ensure that any disciplinary measures against Cathedral staff follow the same processes as for other staff of the House as the Statutes or By-laws are going to need to be updated to reflect common HR, Safeguarding and Harassment policies.
  5. In order to carry out their role, the Dean, like the new Head of House, is going to require a stipend and allowances for entertainment, expenses and establishment. The stipend, with the Head of House role removed, may be closer to that of other cathedral deans. But careful consideration is going to need to be given, when it comes to allowances and accommodation, to the extensive responsibilities that the Dean will continue to have as the outward face to the wider community of a key part of the Foundation. The Dean is also going to need at least a PA to provide support.
  6. In the course of this review, it was suggested to me that, on the Dean ceasing to be Head of House, the Deanery should in its entirety be relinquished by the Dean and Chapter, handed over to the control of GB for occupation by the new Head of House as their residence and the Dean accommodated elsewhere. This is to misunderstand the Dean’s role. While I have no doubt that a new Head of House will soon develop extensive responsibilities in the entertainment of members of the House, alumni and academic and other guests and visitors, the reality is that many of the functions of hospitality to City, University, County and Diocese will remain with the Dean, as it is owing to the existence of the Cathedral and that of the Dean and Deanery that those hospitable functions take place at Christ Church. It is important that the Deanery is close to the Cathedral and has the capacity for this type of entertainment and this will remain the case even if the current common sense proposal to reduce some of its size, creating new accommodation out of a part of its private quarters, were to be carried out. At present, therefore, I cannot and do not recommend any change to the accommodation of the Dean in the Deanery or their use of it, or any transfer of the powers reserved to the Dean and Chapter over it. It may be that at some point, other agreement is reached, to suit all parties. But there is no basis for this to happen at present.
  7. The Dean needs to be provided with a written document on appointment, setting out in broad terms the role they will perform in relation to the Foundation and what is expected of them. Irrespective of whether or not the Dean’s new status means they are to be treated as an employee with a contract with Christ Church, or as an independent office holder and member of GB by virtue of that office, the Dean just as any other member of GB should be entitled to bring a grievance under Statute XXXIX part VI.


  1. Currently the Canon Regius Professors and the Lady Margaret Professor are all dependent on a contract with the University. I have seen no sample contractual document. But the Job Description for a past Lady Margaret Professor makes clear that there will be duties to be carried out as a Canon of the Cathedral with responsibilities to GB, as a member of it. The document also makes clear that “6. The contribution of Christ Church to a canon professor’s total stipend is equal to the stipend fixed annually by the Church Commissioners for a residentiary canon. The rest of the professorial salary is paid by the University”. At 7 it is stated “a canon professor is required to live in one of the canonical houses of Christ Church which are provided free of rent, council tax and the cost of structural maintenance”.
  2. But no contract exists with Christ Church either for the Lady Margaret Professor or I am told the Regius Canon Professors roles as Canons and no agreement for their occupation of the canonries or in relation to their wider obligations to the House. The view at Christ Church is that the House has no express powers over them, notwithstanding their membership of GB and the existence of a monetary relationship, as Christ Church is paying part of their stipend and housing them. The same might be said of the Archdeacon and the Sub-Dean. The Diocesan Canon, on the other hand, has no such connection to the House.
  3. I find it hard to see why these members of both Chapter and of GB ought not come within the ambit of Statute XXXIX, at least for discipline and grievance procedures but not, obviously, redundancy. I note that Appendix IV of the Appendices to the By-laws of 2021 for the Officers of the House includes the College Chaplain under them. It would in my view be desirable and ought to be possible to craft a provision explicitly covering the residentiary Canons, which protects their ecclesiastical roles and leaves that aspect to the Clergy Discipline Measure. In relation to their other conduct, they should be subject to Statute XXXIX, but provided with the protection of the double lock mechanism, so that no action can be initiated against them by GB, for removal for “good cause”, without a majority of the Chapter first agreeing that this should happen. But I am conscious that change in this area is only going to be possible with the agreement of the University and the Church of England and, in the case of the Regius Professors, of the Crown as well. There is also the problem that any change to the Statutes to do this could only be prospective, as Section 34 of the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge Act 1923 provides that any Statute made under the Act “…shall operate without prejudice to any interest possessed by any person by virtue of his having, before the statute comes into operation become a member of a College…”. This would operate to protect the existing rights of the residentiary canons, so that change could only apply to those appointed after the Statutes are altered unless they consented. I recommend that, at the least, discussions should take place with the University to ensure that the terms of the Canon Professors’ employment include provisions to safeguard the position of the House as the host and that thought be given to bringing all who work, and are paid, at least in part, by the House and are members of GB, within its disciplinary processes, adapted to their circumstances.
  4. Questions have been raised in the course of the review as to the extent to which any Canon of the Cathedral in holy orders might require a license from the Bishop of Oxford to exercise ministry within the diocese. I am told that at present no license appears to be required. This has raised concerns as to the lack of control a Bishop has over Cathedral Canons on matters which could touch on Safeguarding within the diocese. It is suggested that the Statutes could be altered to require any Canon in holy orders to have a licence from the Bishop in order to be appointed to Christ Church. This will require discussion with the Crown and the University but I recommend this is pursued.
  5. The canonries for the occupation of the residentiary Canons are of differing sizes. They are considered by many on GB and by some of the Canons themselves to be too large for modern living. But any change to their status and their ceasing to be reserved to the Dean and Chapter and potentially made available for the wider purposes of the House can only occur if suitable alternative accommodation is available and reserved for them. At the moment there is none identifiable. There is therefore no reasonable basis for a general transfer of responsibility for the canonries to the GB being made.
  6. There is however the possibility of some further physical sub-division of accommodation, perhaps at least of the Deanery to produce another small residential canonry. The new Head of House will also require suitable accommodation. It should therefore be considered how one canonry might be released for the occupation of the Head of House. The obvious choice for this is the South West Canonry, which is currently vacant. It is also the largest and has accommodation, including reception rooms and a garden of a size likely to be suitable for entertainment on a substantial scale.
  7. The Diocesan Canon is not a member of GB, has no contract with Christ Church and is appointed by the Bishop and housed by the Diocese some distance from the Cathedral. The office is important. At present they are the Canon, who having no academic duties, is most closely concerned, along with the Sub-Dean, with the day to day operation of the Cathedral. They are present to support staff, greet worshippers and visitors, officiate at many services, as well as having the task of helping strengthen links between Christ Church and the Diocese.
  8. In practice, however, as became clear during my review, the role of Diocesan Canon is not working as intended. The Canon’s residential accommodation is too far away for what is, usually, a start time in the Cathedral of 7.00 am. Until provided with a temporary room in a vacant canonry, there was no desk or private place for them to work or rest during working hours, which can extend into the early evening. Although the Diocesan Canon has SCR rights, the fact they are not on GB makes contact with members of GB and participation in the life of the House difficult. My enquiries suggest past holders of this office have faced similar problems.
  9. If the role of Diocesan Canon is to be worth continuing, these issues need to be addressed. This is going to require discussion between the Diocese and Christ Church as to how the role can evolve to benefit both. An invitation to attend GB and get a better understanding of the life of the community in which their work has been placed along with accommodation closer to work, look like essential prerequisites for the success of this role.


  1. There are at present two committees of GB which deal with church matters. The first is the Benefices Committee which appoints clergy to vacant benefices of Christ Church and consists of the Dean and Chapter, the Treasurer and two members of the GB elected annually. The second is the Archdeacon’s Committee, provided for in By-law 7A and consisting of the Archdeacon, Sub-Dean, Treasurer, a Canon and one other member of GB, elected annually, who make grants to incumbents and persons in holy orders employed by Christ Church who are paid on Church of England scales. The monies for this come from a fixed share of Dr South’s Trust and from the Stratford Trust that cannot be used for another purpose. This committee makes recommendations to GB for its approval.
  2. As a consequence of the changes that will be made to the Statutes, if my proposal is accepted, the question arises of whether the GB wishes to retain participation in these allocations of funds or hand them over as a reserved area to be performed exclusively by the Dean and Chapter. My consultation on this has suggested that all might be happy with keeping the status quo as the participation of lay members of the GB was appreciated. If so, then nothing need be done. But if there were a desire for change it could be included in the process.
    1. As explained earlier, the provision of a choir and a Schoolteacher are reserved to the Dean and Canons who are the governors of the present School, helped by a group of advisory governors drawn from parents and education professionals. They therefore deal with its general superintendence. But the provision of buildings and/or land for the occupation of any Choir School is the responsibility of GB, as is its maintenance. Oversight of the School is provided by the Cathedral School’s Committee consisting of the Dean, Sub-Dean, the Chapter Treasurer, the Treasurer, two other members of the GB elected annually, who can serve for a maximum of three years each and the Organist. This reports to the GB. The “Schoolteacher” as head of the School and School Bursar also normally attend but have no vote.
    2. This split structure of governance reflects the reality of the split in responsibilities for the operation and oversight of the School in the Statutes and it does not hitherto appear to have caused problems. But this review revealed some differences of view over the School’s future development amongst members of GB and concomitant concerns from school staff and others at the lack of certainty about its future direction. The School is delivering education of a very high quality. The School occupies a small site and the need to pass through its play area by graduate students accessing their accommodation may be the subject of safeguarding recommendations by INEQE in its own review. It is likely that some focus on the School’s future functioning is going to be required.
    3. It would be much better if Christ Church were more settled on how its tradition of choral excellence in the Cathedral can best be maintained. It is a requirement in its Statutes, essential for the functioning of the Cathedral and is a responsibility that cannot be abandoned. This is a policy issue outside the scope of this review. Different options and models are possible. It would be better in my view if there were a single governance structure for any school, able to oversee all aspects of its governance, both operationally and financially. But in all the circumstances I cannot make a recommendation for governance change as this may depend on any model chosen. I doubt however that the status quo is a good way of managing and developing the School in the long term.
  3. The proposal that the Dean ceases to be Head of House has raised concerns during this review as to whether in future the new Head of House and GB trustees will always be willing to support the Cathedral, notwithstanding the Statutory provisions. The same could apply to the use of the Cathedral for college purposes. For the Cathedral to function successfully at present it needs the support of the House outside of those matters reserved to the Dean and Chapter. Examples of this include use of the Hall and McKenna Room for dinners linked to the Cathedral, use of the grounds and gardens for larger functions, access to the bells in the Wolsey Tower and to Tom Tower and its bell in connection with ringing to mark church festivals and events. Conversely, the Cathedral is the college chapel and the Cathedral building is used for non liturgical gatherings by the college and events by the academic community as is the Chapter House. Although none of these uses have produced difficulties in the past, it would be sensible to set out mutual responsibilities where possible. Thus, Statute IV on Use of the Cathedral as the College chapel needs to be retained. But to this should be added in a new statute a general obligation on the Head of House and GB and the Dean and Chapter “to facilitate together the operation of the Cathedral and the collegiate life of the House and to ensure that the appurtenances of the House are made available to the Dean and Chapter in support of the work of the Cathedral and those of the Cathedral made available to the House for the benefit of the collegiate body, when reasonably required and reasonably possible”.
  4. Secondly, I recommend that a Liaison Committee between the Head of House and GB and the Dean and Chapter should be set up. It should be co-chaired by the Head of House and the Dean and two members elected by the Chapter and two elected by the GB to discuss matters of shared interest and help to resolve any issues that might arise operationally from the work of the Cathedral or the collegiate body. Officers of the House should attend when required.
  5. In addition, I consider that it would be sensible to make provision for a possible breakdown in the relationship between the Head of House and the GB and Dean and Chapter. This can be done by including two new provisions in the statutes. The first would be to the effect that where any irreconcilable difference arises between the two bodies on the rights of either under the statutes, application could be made on a resolution of either the GB or the Chapter for the appointment by the Visitor of a mediator to help resolve the matter. The second would be that if the mediation were unsuccessful, the Visitor would be required to appoint an arbitrator whose decision on any matter referred would be final.
  6. Summary and recommendations:
    • The compromise in the 1867 Act, between the governance of the Cathedral as an area reserved to the Dean and Chapter/Canons and that of the rest of the Foundation under any new Head of House and GB, should be respected. I see no inherent conflict of interest in a person being a member of the Chapter and a member of GB. Nor do I consider there to be any issue in relation to their obligation as charitable trustees in non-Chapter members of GB being limited in the scope of their duties as far as the operation of the Cathedral is concerned. I do not see how they can be held responsible for acts that are outside of their responsibilities under the Statutes.
    • The fact that there will soon be a common set of HR, Safeguarding and Harassment policies in place for all of Christ Church including the Cathedral should help ensure that these key areas are covered uniformly across the Foundation. All recommendations accepted should be implemented as soon as possible.
    • Just as the Academic body needs to be able to evolve, so does the Cathedral. The Statutes should be amended to provide for the Dean and Chapter to set up a Board as a Committee of Chapter to help with the operation of the Cathedral and bringing in non executive members in line with the principles in the Cathedrals Measure 2021. Any Board set up should have some Diocesan representation. Any change should also make clear that it is confined to those areas hitherto reserved to the Dean and Chapter and does not alter the rights and obligations of the Head of House and GB in respect of the Foundation’s financial support of the Cathedral or the duty of the Dean and Chapter to submit an annual account of expenditure.
    • The Friends of Christ Church Cathedral should be constituted as a separate charity with appropriate representation of Chapter and Diocese on its Board.
    • Because of Christ Church’s status as a “Peculiar Royal Foundation”, I do not see how the introduction of some form of formal episcopal oversight of the Cathedral either by the Bishop becoming the Ordinary or the Visitor can be easily introduced, compatible with this status, as long as the joint Foundation exists. The Dean should be the Ordinary of the Cathedral and the Crown the Visitor to the entire Foundation. But there would be good reason for the Crown to delegate any matter in the Cathedral requiring intervention to the Bishop of Oxford if appropriate and the Statutes could state this explicitly. The Dean should remain the Ordinary of the Cathedral if a new Head of House is appointed under my proposals.
    • The wording of Statute I.5 and I.6 defining the reserved powers of the Dean and Chapter and Dean and Canons is archaic and lacks clarity. The revision of the Statutes offers an opportunity to rewrite them so as to more clearly express the areas of reserved powers. But in doing so the balance of the central governance relationship between the Cathedral and GB must not be changed.
    • The office of Dean should remain a Crown appointment made by the Visitor in consultation with the Chapter, Head of House and GB, the Church and other interested parties. The Dean should be a member of GB. They will have to have an ecclesiastical freehold as now and be subject to the Foundation’s disciplinary and grievance code as amended and therefore removable only for “good cause” and by a process involving the consent of the Chapter as well as that of GB. The Dean will require a stipend fixed at a figure reflective of but not less than that of other Deans and be provided with accommodation, and an appropriate allowance for entertainment and the performance of their functions. Because of the volume and nature of the hospitality that falls to the Dean and will continue after the creation of the office of Head of House, the Dean should remain in occupation of the Deanery.
    • The Dean should be provided with a written document setting out the terms of the office and the duties expected of them.
    • The Regius Canon Professors and the Lady Margaret Professor should, at the least, have a written contract of employment with the University that includes their responsibilities to Christ Church. There should also be a separate document with Christ Church detailing their responsibilities to the Cathedral as ecclesiastical office holders. Similar issues of the need for a document detailing responsibilities arise in respect of the Sub-Dean and the Archdeacon who, as ecclesiastical office holders have no contract with Christ Church despite being on GB and being paid or part paid by the House. All the residentiary Canons should be subject to the Foundation’s disciplinary and grievance code, with the safeguard of no disciplinary process being possible without the agreement of a majority of the Chapter. Discussions should be initiated with the University and the Church of England to bring about change on this.
    • While the Canonries are increasingly seen as oversized accommodation for the residentiary Canons, no change to their status as a reserved matter for the Dean and Chapter can be considered, unless suitable alternative accommodation is made available, which is acceptable to the Dean and Chapter and then placed under their control. The residentiary Canons should be provided with written agreements detailing their rights and obligations as occupiers of the Canonries.
    • The role of the Diocesan Canon, their place within the House and their accommodation all require review.
    • The possible creation of a new residence out of part of the Deanery, offers an opportunity to reconsider the allocation of accommodation for the residentiary Canons. It may be possible therefore for the South West Canonry to be transferred to the GB for the use of the new Head of House, who will be in need of suitable accommodation.
    • The Benefices Committee and Archdeacon’s Committee of the House both deal with matters which are ancillary to Christ Church’s ecclesiastical functions. Consideration could be given to the transfer of these powers and responsibilities to the Dean and Chapter as reserved matters and the removal of GB involvement if that is what is wanted by both GB and the Chapter. If not, the status quo can be maintained.
    • The Governance structures for the Choir School, with responsibility split between the Dean and Canons for oversight of its operation with the help of advisory governors and the GB and its Cathedral School Committee for the financing of the School and policy making in relation to any changes to its size, premises or existence is not generating a clear strategy for the School’s future. But it reflects the division of responsibility in the Statutes and any change raises policy issues on how the Choir for the Cathedral, required under the Statutes, is properly to be provided and maintained. This is outside the scope of this review to determine. The issue needs however to be addressed collectively as a priority.
    • In order to facilitate the best co-operation in the running of the Cathedral alongside the collegiate life of the House, a Liaison Committee should be set up and provided for in the Statutes, co-chaired by the new Head of House and the Dean and with two elected representatives from the Chapter and the Non-Chapter members of the GB or if there is a Governing Council from the Governing Council.
    • A new statute should be added to impose a general obligation for the Head of House and the Dean and Chapter to mutually facilitate and support the operation of Cathedral and the collegiate life of the House.
    • A further addition to the Statutes should be made to cover the potential for a major difference arising between the Head of House and GB and the Dean and Chapter over their relationship under the Statutes. It should provide for one or other party to ask for the appointment of a mediator that the Visitor is required to choose and, if mediation fails, an Arbitrator again appointed by the Visitor, the decision of which arbitrator will be final.


  1. If the GB decides to adopt all, or any of the recommendations I have made, then it will need to initiate a process of implementation. As I have made clear in the course of this report there will also be areas of detail, where the GB will have choices to make on how it wishes to proceed.
  2. Notwithstanding that the current governance structure at Christ Church is still essentially the product of the 1867 Act, the terms of the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge Act 1877 and of the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge Act 1923, make clear that a change to the Statutes of Christ Church does not require primary legislation. Section 7(2) of the 1923 Act states “ …a statute for a college made by the Commissioners and any statute ordinance or regulation made by or in relation to a college under any authority other than that of this Act, shall be subject to alteration from time to time by statute made by the college under this Act and passed at a general meeting of the governing body of the college specially summoned for the purpose by the votes of not less than two thirds of the number of persons present and voting: 
    Provided that-
    • Notice of any proposed statute for a college shall be given to the University before the statute is submitted to His Majesty in Council; and
    • A statute made for a college which affects the University shall not be altered except with the consent of the University”.
  3. It follows from this that Christ Church will need to set up a special committee or instruct its existing Statutes and By-laws committee to commence the revision of the Statutes and consult with those instructed to do the drafting on the content of the amendments to implement the changes desired. It will also need to consult with the University on the consequences of those changes prior to voting on them so as to be assured they are acceptable to the University. Any change to who is Head of House must affect the University.
  4. It is also clear that the GB must have regard as required by section 14 and 15 of the 1923 Act to the “main design of the founder of any institution or emolument which will be affected by the statute…” and to “the interests of education, religion, learning and research and in the case of statute which affects a College or a Hall shall have regard in the first instance to the maintenance of the College of Hall for those purposes”. In my view the proposals for change I have put forward should meet both requirements without difficulty as they preserve the joint Foundation, to act both as a Cathedral and a college of the University, even if they change how this end is achieved.
  5. Another issue, is that under Section 34 of the 1923 Act “any statute made….shall operate without prejudice to any interest possessed by any person by virtue of his having, before the statute came into operation, become a member of a College or the Hall, or been elected or appointed to a University or College emolument, or acquired a vested right to be elected or appointed thereto.” This must mean that any Dean in office at the date of any change as to who is Head of House has a potential veto over that change until the time of their retirement. Alternatively, they might either wish to resign at that point to allow the change to take place or consent to the change in their status. The newly nominated Dean has made clear their intention to step down once new governance arrangements have been instituted. Otherwise, the alteration in the Statutes in this respect could be delayed. Any change to the lack of disciplinary provisions of the Canon Professors currently in office would raise the same issues.
  6. I do not think however that any other members of the GB could be affected by the changes I have recommended in a way that might create any similar problem. The wording of Section 34 and the definition of “The Governing Body” in the Schedule to the 1877 Act as applied to the 1923 Act, does not suggest that the creation of a “Governing Council” makes any change to the status of a Student Fellow being a member of GB. I am also not aware of this having been an issue in any of the changes that have taken place in Cambridge colleges to create “governing councils”.
  7. Once the amendments to the Statutes have been made and approved by the GB and the University, they have, within one month to be submitted to the King in Council (Section 45 Act of 1923) and the draft Statutes are then gazetted and for a period of eight weeks thereafter may be petitioned against in whole or in part, by any person or body directly affected by the changes. (Section 46), in which case the matter has to be referred to the Universities Committee of the Privy Council to hear the case of the petitioners (Section 47) and with power to remit the draft Statute for reconsideration (Section 48) or as soon a convenient after consideration to lay the draft Statute before Parliament. If the draft Statutes are not petitioned against, they are within one month of the limit date for a petition to be made laid before Parliament, if sitting. In both cases each House then has four weeks to present an address praying the King in Council to withhold his consent. If they are not, it is then lawful for the King in Council to approve the draft Statutes (Section 49).
  8. It follows from the above that the process of changing the Statutes will take some time. But provided the GB, by the necessary majority there, has a settled desire to bring about the changes, then I have little doubt from the work I have done on the review, that there will be goodwill in all relevant quarters to try and move the matter forward as fast as possible. I will be pleased to assist in any way I can to bring about the changes desired and chosen.


  1. As I have had the opportunity of seeing for myself during the course of the review, Christ Church has many strengths. A lively sense of collegiality and the size of its endowment, gives it a unique opportunity for being a centre of academic excellence in higher education and research and the opportunity of breaking down barriers to wider participation in it. The presence of a Cathedral and of the Canon Professors, in the midst of a vibrant academic environment, is of great value for the Church of England in maintaining and developing critical thinking and in contributing to the development of studies in Christian theology, history and ethics. The Cathedral also provides a link into the wider civic, county and diocesan community outside of the University and is the centre of an exceptional musical tradition with benefits well beyond the Cathedral itself. The joint Foundation can and should be a strength for all its parts.
  2. But, to make progress, Christ Church needs to change. The current structure of governance is holding it back. It has to be able to further its historic objects in an environment that is both much more dynamic and yet much more regulated, demanding and subject to scrutiny than hitherto. This needs both greater professionalisation of service delivery and clearer leadership structures and accountability. It means accepting that the duties of charitable trusteeship are now much more than an add on to being a Fellow of a college and that seeking to achieve good charity governance with 65 trustees may in practice be less satisfactory than setting up a much smaller “governing council” on whom rests the principal trusteeship responsibilities. It means reforming the existing 156 years old governance compromise of the House to ensure that the Cathedral and the academic body can work together with mutual respect and harmony. There must never be a return of the unmanageable, costly and damaging disagreements that have marred recent years.
  3. I very much hope that the proposals I have put forward in this report will help to achieve these aims. I am reassured by the goodwill that has been shown to me from all sides in the process of my review and in the many conversations with members and former members of the House that have taken place. As Christ Church approaches the 500th anniversary of its Foundation, I am confident that embracing needed change, whilst preserving its unique and distinctive features, will enable it to prosper in all its works in the years to come.

Rt Hon Dominic Grieve KC
May 2023