Safeguarding case review: Revd Michael Hall, Tylers Green

Rev. Michael Hall, St Margaret’s, Tylers Green

Safeguarding case review for the period 1981 to 2000

The Diocese of Oxford has commissioned a safeguarding case review into allegations of spiritual abuse connected with St Margaret’s, Tylers Green, High Wycombe between 1981 and 2000. The review is ongoing and a confidential helpline has been set up for anyone wishing to come forward with further information. The information provided to date includes allegations of spiritual abuse, possible coercive behaviour and adult sexual activity which was witnessed by children and young people.

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Trigger warning

The content on this page includes references to suicide, sexual behaviour, spiritual and financial abuse. Sources of help and support are provided immediately below. 

If you would like to talk to someone

If you or anyone you are in contact with are affected by the information shared on this page and want to talk to someone independently, please call the Safe Spaces helpline on 0300 303 1056 or email safespaces@victimsupport.org.uk

To come forward with further information, please contact Thirtyone:eight 0303 003 1111 (option #3). Please use the phrase "Tylers Green" to be directed to a specialist. You do not have to give your name and anything you share will be treated with the utmost care and compassion.

If you would prefer to contact the diocesan safeguarding team directly, please email safeguardingreferrals@oxford.anglican.org Your message will only be seen by trained safeguarding professionals.

Advice and other sources of support are listed at the bottom of this page.

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In January 2020 a former member of the congregation at St Margaret’s Tylers Green tragically took their own life. On learning of the death, the current vicar raised serious concerns with the diocesan safeguarding team about the past behaviour of the previous incumbent, Rev. Michael Hall, towards members of the congregation including the deceased.

The subsequent safeguarding investigation, which is ongoing, has secured statements from a number of witnesses over a prolonged period and included a comprehensive file review of archived documents.

In the context of the focus to date of the safeguarding review and the information provided it is the opinion of the  diocesan safeguarding team that Revd Hall’s behaviour towards those who have raised concerns was not appropriate. The members of the review team believe that Revd Hall’s behaviour would, if it occurred today, be described as spiritual abuse which is now  understood to include coercion and control, manipulation and pressuring of individuals, through the misuse of religious texts and scripture and providing a ‘divine’ rationale for behaviour.

Statements provided to the diocese during the course of the investigation also suggest adult sexual activity between some members of the congregation took place during the same period, which was possibly coercive and, according to survivor accounts, witnessed by children and young people. We have also looked into a further claim of financial abuse involving a significant sum of money.

Further interviews and statements will now be sought by the diocese ahead of an independent Lessons Learned Review to be commissioned later this year. We want to properly understand the circumstances behind what happened and the actions of senior clergy at the time, and we want to listen to people’s experiences of Michael Hall.

We now invite anyone who came into contact with Michael Hall, and also the partners and children of those who encountered him, to come forward with information.  A confidential independent helpline is available.

The Rt Revd Alan Wilson, Bishop of Buckingham, has met with those who have come forward during the investigation so far and has apologised to each of them on behalf of the Church for what Michael Hall did.

Comments from the Bishop of Buckingham

Reflecting on the safeguarding investigation and his meetings with the victims, Bishop Alan comments;

“I have heard stories that books weren’t allowed in the church, it was only the word of Michael Hall that carried weight. Anyone who didn't fit in was apparently bullied and cajoled by him until they did, or they walked away.

Sexualised behaviour between some members of the congregation and Hall appears to have been witnessed by children and young people and then spiritualised by him as acceptable.

The people I spoke to described feelings of being trapped and experiencing distorted family lives that persist to this day. I am in no doubt that what happened was wrong and I think that there can be no excuse for Halls actions. I am truly sorry for what happened here in Tyler’s Green and encourage anyone with further information to come forward."

The Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham

The Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham has confirmed its support for the investigation and learning review: “We deplore all forms of abuse and would urge anyone who has information relating to Revd Michael Hall to assist the Diocese of Oxford in this process”.

 

Further information

  • Revd Michael Edward Hall (b. 1932) was deaconed in June 1969 and served his curacy at St. Margaret Aspley until c. 1973 when he became incumbent of St John the Divine, Bulwell. He was Priest in Charge of St Margaret’s Tyler’s Green from 1981 (later becoming incumbent) until his retirement on 13 April 2000 (see picture). Michael Hall died in June 2021.
  • The invitation to come forward with information has been shared with all three parishes and the diocese has been in contact Michael Hall’s family to offer appropriate pastoral support. Please respect the privacy of his family members at this time.
  • The allegations made against Michael Hall relate to spiritual abuse, nakedness and sexual activity with some adult members of the congregation, which took place at St Margaret’s church, in the parish rooms and also in people’s homes, where according to survivor accounts, it was witnessed by children and young people.  
  • Archive correspondence also indicates “belligerent and unreasonable” behaviour by Revd Hall towards many individuals, including members of the Parish Council and the Residents’ Association. “[Hall] ruled congregants with a rod of iron and a flaming temper”
  • Victims of abuse sometimes experience guilt or shame if they did not immediately challenge the behaviour or report it right away. The “freeze response” is a common response to trauma. It is never too late to report abuse or inappropriate behaviour of any kind.

To come forward with information about Revd Michael E. Hall

  • To come forward with further information, please contact Thirtyone:eight by telephone 0303 003 1111 (option #3). You do not have to give your name and anything you share will be treated with the utmost care and compassion. Please use the phrase ‘Tylers Green’ to be directed to a specialist. This specialist helpline is available for three months.
    • Thirtyone:eight is an independent charity which helps individuals, organisations, charities, faith and community groups to protect vulnerable people from abuse.
    • Thirtyone:eight is commissioned by the Diocese of Oxford but the charity is entirely independent of the diocese.
  • If you would prefer to contact the Oxford diocesan safeguarding team directly, please email safeguardingreferrals@oxford.anglican.org. Your message will only be seen by trained safeguarding professionals.  
  • If you have experienced church based abuse in the Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham and would prefer to contact the diocesan safeguarding team there, please call 01636 817200 or use this confidential contact form.

Advice and other sources of support

  • When life is difficult, Samaritans are available – day or night, 365 days a year. You can call them for free on 116 123, email them at jo@samaritans.org, or visit www.samaritans.org to find your nearest branch
  • If you or anyone you are in contact with are affected by the information shared on this page and want to talk to someone independently, please call the Safe Spaces helpline on 0300 303 1056 or email safespaces@victimsupport.org.uk

About this investigation

  • The January 2020 letter to the diocesan safeguarding team followed the Church of England Past Cases Review 2 (PCR2) reporting guidelines. PCR2 aims to ensure that any file that could contain information regarding a concern, allegation or conviction in relation to abusive behaviour by a living member of the clergy or church officer, (whether still in that position or not) will have been identified, read and analysed by independent safeguarding professionals.  
  • This investigation is led by a former police detective. His investigation included reviews of documentation sent to Thames Valley Police and to the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO). Both have confirmed that no further action is being taken by them. The reasons why the police decide to take no further action in particular cases are many and varied. 
  • The Diocesan Safeguarding Panel supports the use of Learning Reviews within the diocese. This page outlines the process for agreeing and undertaking a learning review and includes links to reviews published by the Diocese of Oxford.

About safeguarding in the Diocese of Oxford

Safeguarding is part of the mission of the church, and part of who we are. During the last five years the Diocese of Oxford has…

  • Grown the safeguarding team to 5.8 full time equivalent staff.
  • Ensured the independent chair of the safeguarding panel can, and does, hold the Diocese to account.
  • Systematically trained clergy and church officers in safeguarding, including training for the senior team. In 2021, the team trained 4,901 participants, through the delivery of 96 training modules and the completion of online training, supported 20 volunteer trainers and provided guidance to 423 parish safeguarding officers.
  • Delivered a culture change in the handling of safeguarding disclosures.
  • Increased our corporate understanding of the nature of abuse and increased awareness of those who are isolated or lonely being at risk of abuse.
  • There is always more to be done. We see learning as central to the culture of a safe church, which includes learning from the review that is planned for this case.
Page last updated: Sunday 3rd April 2022 11:22 AM
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