Grieve to lead Christ Church review

Former Attorney General Dominic Grieve outside the High Court in London.

Gavin Rodgers / Alamy

Former Tory MP Dominic Grieve QC will lead a review of the governance of Christ Church, Oxford, following a vote by its governing body.

Mr Grieve, a former attorney general and shadow home secretary, has received ‘overwhelming’ approval from governors to chair the independent governance review, which follows the dean’s departure in April of the college, Martyn Percy, after a long-running dispute that prompted the Charity Commission to propose the measure.

In a statement, the college said the review will make recommendations “to ensure that Christ Church’s bylaws, policies and governance arrangements meet the needs of this unique 21st century institution.” It should submit its report in 2023.

Mr Grieve, who was a student at Magdalen College, Oxford, said he was “gratified and honoured” by the appointment and said he believed the exam would “help Christ Church maintain its long history of academic excellence and thrive as a modern institution”.

Christ Church is both a college of the university and the Anglican Cathedral of Oxford, with the Dean of the Cathedral also being the head of the college and subject to both its governing body and the Church of England. During Dr Percy’s acrimonious dispute with the governing body, which lasted more than three years, he initially faced disciplinary proceedings under the college’s statutes but was later subject to a investigation under Church of England safeguard rules.

This follows a sexual harassment allegation in 2020 that was settled earlier this year. Dr. Percy has agreed to step down from his post with a seven-figure reward.

The college will carry out a separate review of its sexual harassment procedures under the auspices of the Independent Safeguarding Council of the Church of England. The Anglican Bishop of Oxford, Steven Croft, has been criticized by Dr Percy for his role in the dispute.

The governance review is expected to propose changes to the official relationship between the cathedral and its college, which was first established at the Reformation. Mr Grieve, a practicing Anglican and former member of the London Diocesan Synod, said he was “delighted to play a part in this process”.

Martha J. Finley