Church of England’s safeguarding is not safe.

What does the resignation of the Bishop of Winchester, Dr. Tim Dakin (alleged bully), tell us about the current Church of England’s attitude to bullying? 

Bishop Dakin resigned after the unprecedented no-confidence motion was tabled by clergy and worshippers, “We do not have confidence in the diocesan bishop to set this culture or to lead by example, due to allegations of poor behaviour and mistreatment on his part of a number of individuals.”

It also alleged that the “governance and financial management” of his Diocese had become “unfit for purpose.”

The following is the official statement announcing his resignation. I’ve added comments in red, some a bit sarcastic – due to experience. Almost every bully I’ve had to represent as a union official has sworn they weren’t aware that they were bullying. Later I discover that they are still bullying, only choosing more vulnerable targets and bullying them more carefully.

Resignation announcement

The Right Reverend Dr. Tim Dakin is the 97th Bishop of Winchester (from 14 December 2011.) On 16 July 2021, Bishop Tim announced that he would be retiring as Bishop of Winchester from February 2022. 

The Bishop of Winchester, the Rt Rev Dr. Tim Dakin, has today announced his retirement, having formally notified HM The Queen of his intention to step down. He will retire as Bishop in February Bishop Tim’s decision follows the conclusion of a series of facilitated conversations that have taken (this usually means is that any issues have been swept under the carpet rather than having been dealt with.) 

Bishop Tim said, “I have now received confirmation that Her Majesty the Queen (assertion of status in the first sentence) has accepted my retirement as Bishop of Winchester (interesting choice of words “retirement” sounds softer than resignation.)

Mahatma Gandhi (quoting Gandhi to make what he has done seem more acceptable) said that “unity to be real must stand the severest strain without breaking.” (The problem was with those who were not up to the strain that church unity demands.) I have always been clear that, as your Bishop, I should be there to build and foster (enforce) togetherness across our Diocese, focused upon our life together in Christ, and upon our joint (my) mission to serve Christ in our communities and to sustain Christian witness in daily life. Sadly, it seems it is no longer possible for me to fulfill this role. (No admission that this is his fault.)

The last eighteen months have brought enormous pressures to bear on us all (I was stressed too), individually, as a country, within our families and communities, and as a Diocese. (Issues have been exaggerated; after all, we are fighting a pandemic!) The painfully difficult financial decisions made over the last year have caused real anguish (sounds authentic but doesn’t admit being the cause.) In trying to secure a sustainable future for the growth of the Diocese (I would have saved the Diocese), it is clear that I’ve not done enough to acknowledge what we have lost in this process (I failed to acknowledge people distress.) To those I’ve hurt or let down, I am sorry. (10 authentic words.)

I realise that the steps taken to stabilize the finances continue to cause upset. Bishop’s Council has received full reports in recent weeks from the Diocesan auditors and legal advisers, explaining and corroborating the decisions made by the Diocesan Board of Finance. None of this makes those decisions any easier to take (nevertheless, they were the right decisions.) Nevertheless, I hope there is some comfort in the clarity now provided, and that faith can be restored in the relevant Diocesan staff (Is he trying to spread the blame?) and functions as the pastoral reorganisations proceed (pray my mission is completed!) Please continue to pray for all those involved. Pray too for all serving in the parishes and various projects: that the Church and its witness may grow in the Diocese. (I think those bullied will find it hard to take the Bishop’s direction on prayer.)

I could not have come to my decision, or indeed found a way through this recent period, without the love and support of Sally, my children, and close friends. While I have not seen much of what has been said about me, my family and friends have seen more, and I have seen the effect it has had on them. (He doesn’t take responsibility for the effect them.)They are the people who know me best, of course (I’m NOT a bully) – and I’ve drawn upon their love and their view of me (the correct view of me) during these difficult times.

It has been a privilege to serve a Diocese that has Companion links across the world. I’ve been reminded of (my extensive successful) previous ministry experience: of the need to live on other people’s terms to see the world they see and to know the Christ they follow. (My one failing – to take on board that other people have different perspectives and need to feel that their ideas have been heard .) . . .

I will remain proud of what has been achieved across the Diocese over the past 10 years. (There has been a great deal accomplished.) For there to have been a record number of ordinands at the Cathedral recently is a wonderful achievement for those involved in the School of Mission and in the parishes. I believe each and every one of our new clergy – and the many lay people who’ve received the Bishop’s Commission for Mission – will have a valuable role to play in the next stage of the Diocese as it witnesses to Christ’s mission in this region, in the life of the nation and across the Anglican Communion (Is he archbishop now?) The new national strategy for the Church of England offers an inspirational trajectory for such future developments.

As for me and Sally, we are planning a move to Plymouth, and we’re looking forward to making new friends, as well as to visits from old friends and from our growing family. Thank you for all we have shared. We will miss you. God bless you.

He reminds me of John Birt – once Director-General of the BBC. He had a mission. In April 1993, he introduced Producer Choice, giving programme makers the power to buy services from outside the BBC. This theoretically reduced the cost to licence-payers of the BBC’s historic resource base. Faced with high rental fees from the BBC’s record library, producers found it cheaper to buy records from local record shops. In-house facilities were closed or stood idle. Members of BBC staff had to attend mission-like meetings – to convert us to disciples of Producer choice. Producer choice permanently damaged some unique resources and lowered morale. John Birt’s seemed very arrogant with little effective attempt to take the staff with him. I thought he demonstrated contempt for the expertise he should have harnessed. I actually think producer choice was his means to bypass negotiating with the trade unions.

One critic of Bishop Dakin had previously branded Winchester the ‘North Korean diocese’ because of the allegedly autocratic style imposed.

Jokes aside, this is a big issue for the Church: Bishop Dakin is the fifth most senior Bishop in the Church after the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell, Bishop of London Sarah Mullally, and Bishop of Durham Paul Butler.

Bishop Dakin is the first bishop in history to face a motion of no-confidence motion.

Staff who left their roles under Bishop Dakin’s direction were required to sign legally binding ‘confidentiality clauses’ which banned them from making ‘adverse or derogatory comments about him or the Diocese.

So, just as the BBC did, the Church of England has brushed all the issues involved under the carpet. Meaning they still exist, ready to emerge one day at the least convenient moment for the Church of England. Judge Rose’s report on why BBC Staff did not expose Jimmy Savile found it was due to a culture of bullying & harassment. The Church of England can not claim effective safeguarding when it hides bullying and harassment.

#religiouslyBullying #CofESafeguarding

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