Troubled Oxford dean Martyn Percy steps aside in fight with dons as he faces Church of England probe into his behaviour
- Fresh allegations against the Very Rev Professor Martyn Percy have emerged
- In ‘private’ message to students Christ Church said Prof Percy stepped down
- It’s the latest twist in a four-year battle that has consumed Christ Church college
The controversial dean of an Oxford college stood down last night after the emergence of a fresh allegation against him.
The Very Rev Professor Martyn Percy faces a Church of England probe into his behaviour.
In a ‘private and confidential’ message to students, his college, Christ Church, confirmed that Professor Percy, 58, had ‘voluntarily withdrawn with immediate effect from all duties and pastoral responsibilities’.
The Very Rev Professor Martyn Percy (pictured) faces a Church of England probe into his behaviour
It is the latest twist in a four-year battle that has consumed Christ Church – where he is head of the college and its cathedral.
The clash between Professor Percy and his opponents at the 474-year-old college dates back to 2016, when Christ Church undergraduate Lavinia Woodward stabbed her then boyfriend during an argument. She was spared jail.
In response, the dean sought changes to the college’s safeguarding protocols. However, his proposals met with resistance from academics.
There followed moves to oust Professor Percy from his position. He was suspended in 2018 amid allegations of improper misconduct. However, these claims were rejected by an employment tribunal which found in the dean’s favour and against Christ Church. Professor Percy then complained that his £90,900 salary was less than the average earned by the heads of Oxford colleges.
But last night senior Oxford University sources said the fresh allegation meant Professor Percy now had no choice but to be ‘stand back or be suspended’.
In a message to students, college officials in charge of discipline said they could not shed much light on the matter for legal reasons.
But they added that ‘appropriate measures have been put in place whilst inquiries are under way’ and urged any students who needed to support to contact their welfare offices.
Their formal full statement went on to say: ‘The Dean of Christ Church, the Very Rev Martyn Percy, has voluntarily withdrawn with immediate effect from all duties and pastoral responsibilities in his role as Dean of the College and Cathedral.
The clash between Professor Percy and his opponents at the 474-year-old college dates back to 2016, when Christ Church undergraduate Lavinia Woodward (pictured) stabbed her then boyfriend during an argument. She was spared jail
‘Christ Church will not be commenting further whilst necessary inquiries are under way. The Charity Commission and relevant Church of England authorities are being kept fully informed.’
A Church of England source confirmed it was actively investigating Professor Percy’s behaviour but would not be drawn on the substance of the allegation or the progress of its probe.
Allies of the dean defended him last night, saying the claims against him were ‘not grave’ and he was the victim of a sustained witch-hunt.
One said the allegations were ‘being ruthlessly exploited by his enemies who, once again, are proving the culture of the college has become toxic’.
In a ‘private and confidential’ message to students, his college, Christ Church, (pictured) confirmed that Professor Percy, 58, had ‘voluntarily withdrawn with immediate effect from all duties and pastoral responsibilities’
The source added: ‘But they don’t seem to care: they will do anything to force him out.’
Another said: ‘There is no chance of him going soon – and he will probably be reinstated in the new year.’
In February, leaked emails revealed that Oxford dons had described Professor Percy as a ‘little Hitler’ who was ‘nasty’ and had a ‘personality disorder’.
The dean declined to comment. Then in May, the majority of Christ Church’s trustees wrote to the Charity Commission urging it to insist that he should accept a settlement and leave – or be removed.
Christ Church and Oxford University were contacted for comment. Professor Percy could not be reached for comment last night.
Christ Church, founded by Henry VIII in 1546, is one of the richest Oxford colleges with an endowment approaching £600million.
Its alumni include 13 British prime ministers.