By Democrat reporter
A shelved independent report into allegations of bullying involving Scotland’s first woman bishop contains “substantial” criticism of her conduct, it has been revealed.
The Scottish Episcopal Church commissioned Professor Iain Torrance, an academic and a former moderator of the Church of Scotland, to oversee a review into “turbulence and discontent” in its northeast diocese.
Several Episcopal priests and church employees claimed that the Right Rev Anne Dyer, the bishop of Aberdeen and Orkney, had made their working lives intolerable.
Scottish Episcopal Church issued this statement on its website
Aberdeen & Orkney review to move to second stage. In March this year, the College of Bishops of the Scottish Episcopal Church commissioned Professor Iain Torrance [a former Moderator of the Church of Scotland] to conduct an independent review of difficulties experienced in the Diocese of Aberdeen & Orkney, following a request from Bishop Anne Dyer.
The review process began on 5 April 2021 and it was hoped that a report would be ready by the end of the year. At the beginning of August, the College received a report from Professor Torrance.
The College is grateful to Professor Torrance for all the work he has undertaken in his review and for early delivery of his confidential report, to which it has now been able to give initial consideration.
The report provides very useful information and views for the College. But it also raises a number of additional issues and questions which require further exploration before the College can consider next steps in the process.
The College now intends to move to a second stage of review to take place broadly around the original timeframe, to enable it to decide how best it can help the Diocese of Aberdeen and Orkney as a whole for the future. Specific areas on which the College believes there is a need for additional exploration include the extent of unhappiness in the Diocese, and also the period of the episcopal vacancy between 1 November 2016 and 1 March 2018.
A group of three individuals with relevant experience will be invited to undertake this further exploration. The group will report its findings confidentially to the College, and these will be examined alongside the Torrance Review. The College will then consider how it is able to support everyone in the Diocese of Aberdeen and Orkney in moving forward.
The College had originally hoped and expected that, once received, it would be able to publish a copy of Professor Torrance’s report. However, Professor Torrance has acknowledged in his report that “it may be considered impossible to publish any part of this review”. The College has noted that view and will defer any decision about publication until after completion of stage two of the review. It accepts that it may have been over-optimistic in its expectations regarding release of the report. It recognises that some will be disappointed at this news and apologises for that.
A further statement will be made in due course regarding the composition of the group which will undertake further exploration, and the scope of that exercise.
However, responses included one from Ian Ansdell, a retired journalist, who wrote: The Province’s statement above says: ‘However, Professor Torrance has acknowledged in his report that “it may be considered impossible to publish any part of this review”.’
But mark this from The Telegraph today: ‘In a statement before the Church abruptly announced a second review stage, Prof Torrance said: “It remains my belief that the narrative and conclusions of my review should be made public as the Bishops undertook.
“It remains my belief that an honest acknowledgement of the difficulties faced by the diocese and active steps taken to repair the hurt done to certain individuals are the only way to restore trust and confidence.'”
And Matthew Firth commented: “You didn’t get the result you wanted so you’re trying to suppress it. Disgraceful.”
Elizabeth Gregory concurred: “Oh dear, you didn’t get the result you wanted so you are trying to suppress it. So disgraceful.”
The Rev Stephanie Hunter said: ” It is important for the future of the SEC to make a dedicated effort towards transparency. Secrecy does the church no favours!”
Local arms of the Scottish Episcopal Church include St Augustine’s in Dumbarton; St Mungo’s in Alexandria, and St Michael and All the Angels, Helensburgh, and the chapel at HM Naval Base Clyde.