Christ Church to Commission Independent Review

17 February 2021

Christ Church’s Governing Body has voted to carry out an independent review regarding the handling of a serious sexual harassment complaint, in order to confirm the disciplinary process it has put in place. The complaint was made last October by a junior member of staff against a senior member. 

Last month, Governing Body addressed the complaint through its internal disciplinary procedures, but these have been questioned repeatedly by some in the media, while the motives of the complainant have been publicly challenged. While it is fully confident of the decisions it has made on this matter, Governing Body agreed that it wanted to respond to the queries that have been raised in a transparent manner. It felt that an external review would be the best way of ensuring that the complaint can be properly and swiftly dealt with for the sake of all those involved.

Governing Body’s decision follows a letter written by Christ Church student representatives to the Charity Commission, which stresses the importance of urgently addressing any allegation of sexual harassment. Christ Church’s internal HR processes are dictated by its statutes, and in this case require a tribunal to be set up to consider any appropriate disciplinary action.

A spokesperson for Christ Church commented: 

“We entirely share our students’ concerns that a complaint of sexual harassment by this young member of staff must be treated with the utmost seriousness. That is exactly why last month we put our formal internal HR processes into action, and we are entirely confident these are the correct and necessary steps. However, we believe that an external, independent review will provide further reassurance about the decisions that were taken, and a way forward for all involved.”

Christ Church has begun the immediate process of identifying and appointing a Chair for the independent review and agreeing its terms of reference. It is expected that the Chair will be a senior figure from the judiciary.

Separately, Christ Church has reiterated its condemnation of attempts, through the press, social media and on a number of blogs, to gaslight and intimidate the complainant, their supporters, and the independent investigator who carried out a preliminary investigation into the allegation. Given the repeated leaking of confidential, personal information, Christ Church has reported a data breach to the Information Commissioner’s Office.