Grieve leads review of Percy line by Christ Church

A former attorney general has been appointed to lead an independent review of the governance of an Oxford University college which was embroiled in a bitter row with its dean.

Christ Church, Oxford, said Dominic Grieve would chair the review announced following the resignation of Dean Martyn Percy in April.

Reverend Percy had been locked in a battle with college scholars that dated back four years. Under the terms of his departure, disciplinary proceedings have been dropped and the college will pay his legal costs and compensation, which are believed to total more than £1million.

Reverend Percy was initially suspended in 2018 over a dispute over his salary and his efforts to reform college governance. The following summer, a university tribunal presided over by a retired High Court judge cleared the Dean of his “immoral, scandalous and disgraceful” behavior, but efforts to impeach him continued.

Reverend Percy was suspended again in 2020 when a woman accused him of sexual harassment, claiming he stroked her hair – allegations he denied and that police and the Church of England refused to continue.

The row led Lord Patten, Chancellor of Oxford, to worry about the impact on the university’s reputation, and the Charity Commission to warn that the acrimony was damaging the college’s ability to govern itself.

Announcing the appointment of Mr Grieve, the former MP for Beaconsfield, the college said it would “make recommendations which the governing body will carefully consider, to ensure that the statutes, by-laws and governance arrangements of Christ Church meet the needs of this unique institution in the 21st century.”

As well as being a college of the University of Oxford, the college chapel of Christ Church serves as the cathedral church of the city’s Anglican diocese.

The Percy line drew attention to how the dean of Christ Church is the head of the cathedral and the college, and how the college’s 60 or so fellows are also its trustees.

Mr Grieve, a practicing Anglican and former member of the Church of England’s London Diocesan Synod, said he was “delighted to play a part in this process”.

“I am both pleased and honored to chair this review, which I believe will help Christ Church maintain its long history of academic excellence and thrive as a modern institution,” Mr. Grieve said.

At the time of the settlement with Reverend Percy, Christ Church said the woman who accused him of harassment had “settled her claim with the Dean, on terms which, at his request, are confidential”.

[email protected]

Martha J. Finley