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Christ Church releases full statement on dean dispute

Yesterday, the Christ Church Governing Body released a new statement about its disputes with former dean Dr Martyn Percy, describing the allegations of both parties in extensive detail. In doing this, the College explains its beliefs about how the disputes arose, and the courses of action which were subsequently taken, acknowledging that “there will be no peace until we outline exactly how our dispute with Dr Percy unfolded.”

The College claims that Dr Percy’s campaign revolved around a narrative which is “at best, distorted, and at worst, untrue”. By contrast, it seeks to set out “what actually happened”. Last night, however, Dr Percy responded to this statement in The Times, and continues to disagree with a number of points in the Christ Church account.

The Dispute as We Know It: A Summary

Christ Church claims that the initial falling-out occurred in 2017, when Dr Percy tried to obtain a substantial pay-rise. At the time, he received a salary of £90,000 per annum, which The Telegraph found to be lower than that enjoyed by the heads of other Oxford colleges. While Dr Percy told The Times that he merely “requested a fair method for conducting pay reviews” rather than an actual pay rise, no changes to his pay were granted. Christ Church believes that unpleasantness began at this time, with some members of staff viewing Dr Percy’s behaviour as “rude and bullying”.

Christ Church initiated mediation in 2018, which was ongoing when Dr Percy raised complaints about the College safeguarding policy. This was in response to an incident where he attended to an injured student during the 2016-17 Christmas vacation and alleges to have been given inadequate assistance. Christ Church maintains that Dr Percy had opportunities to seek support from paramedics and need not have dealt with the incident alone as he did, adding that he made no proposals to improve safeguarding in the incident’s aftermath. Mediation broke down alongside this and safeguarding has since been “a major theme of the attacks made on Christ Church by Dr Percy”. 

However, this theme was turned on its head when a PhD student brought claims of sexual harassment against Dr Percy in October 2020. Ms Alannah Jeune, the alleged victim, has recently waived her anonymity to to speak about her experience in the media. Christ Church says she “has shown enormous courage and composure” throughout the process. Her full version events can be found in The Telegraph, where she expresses frustration at Dr Percy for “trampling down a woman who is telling the truth.”

While Christ Church reports that an independent inquiry “found that Ms Jeune’s account was credible and concluded that it was more likely than not that Dr Percy had behaved in an inappropriate manner”, evidence did not meet the high burden of proof needed to bring criminal proceedings. After further mediation, however, Dr Percy stepped down as dean earlier this year.

Christ Church states that it made this report publicly available on the request of numerous stakeholders, adding that “now it is done, we hope to put this traumatic past behind us”. Dr Percy’s swift response in The Times suggests this may not be realised.

The College’s full statement can be accessed on its website.