Clergyman Suspended By Bishop Of Winchester

A senior Church of England clergyman has been suspended over allegations that a complaint of abuse made by a vulnerable female parishioner was not taken seriously by him.

Dean of Jersey, the Very Rev Robert Key, has had his commission withdrawn by the Bishop of Winchester following a critical independent report into the 2008 complaint by the woman of abusive behaviour by a churchwarden in Jersey.

The report, commissioned by the Diocese of Winchester's Safeguarding Panel, raised concerns that the dean did not take the complaint seriously.

He also showed a perceived lack of neutrality, offered poor communication and failed to act in relation to the parishioner.

The Bishop, Tim Dakin, will now begin an investigation into the conduct of the case by the dean, who is the most senior C of E cleric on the Channel island, and other matters raised by the report.

Bishop Dakin, who is responsible for the Church of England in the Channel Islands said: ''Firstly I want to give my unreserved apologies to the complainant for her treatment.

''Protecting the vulnerable is at the heart of the Church of England's mission. With that comes a duty to ensure those in need are properly looked after.

"It is vital that robust safeguarding policies are in place and, above all, that they are properly implemented.

''This independent report suggests that, put simply, our policies were not implemented as they should have been.

''I am particularly disappointed that the Dean of Jersey refused to co-operate with the review and I have now ordered an immediate and thorough investigation.

''In the wake of the report, difficult but necessary and decisive actions are required to ensure that, in the future, procedures will be followed properly.''

Andrew Robinson, chief executive of the Diocese of Winchester, said:

''The diocese takes its safeguarding duties very seriously. This is why we commissioned the independent report and is why we have taken action to ensure our safeguarding polices are robust and adhered to.

''We are determined to learn from the mistakes made in this particular case and shall be enhancing our safeguarding procedures and policies.''

The States of Jersey Police and Hampshire Constabulary did investigate the allegations in 2008 but found that there was insufficient evidence to proceed.

The Diocese has sent the police a copy of the independent report.