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Independent review published


The Diocese of Oxford has published a summary briefing and recommendations, along with the full report, from the independent review into events in the parishes of Stowe and Maids Moreton.

In 2017 Peter Farquhar was murdered. His need for an emotionally close relationship had been exploited, and an intelligent, talented man was made vulnerable. Peter was a member of his local church; his strong personal faith featured in the abusive relationship, and his murderer, Ben Field, also had roles within the church.

This was an extraordinary and unusual case. Everyone who came into contact with the murderer, Ben Field, was manipulated by him. He made a pretence of being a committed Christian and gained the confidence of the people of Stowe Parish Church.

The Church and wider society need to be ever more vigilant of those who can be made vulnerable by the likes of Ben Field, simply because they are elderly or lonely. For this reason, the Diocese of Oxford commissioned an independent review to establish lessons learnt from the events in the parishes of Stowe and Maids Moreton.

The review, commissioned by the Diocese of Oxford Safeguarding Panel, was carried out by Dr Adi Cooper, OBE, an independent consultant in adult safeguarding and adult social care. Dr Cooper makes 13 recommendations for improving safeguarding awareness and prevention as well as supporting a shift to a more open culture within the Church of England around safeguarding in all its complexity for parishes.

“Although the events in the Parishes of Stowe and Maids Moreton were unusual, there is learning from them that can inform improvement in safeguarding policy and practice,” writes Dr Cooper. “The lessons from the harm done by Ben Field presents a challenge for the Church regarding specific themes: the abuse of trust in a religious paradigm, attitudes towards sex and sexuality, and safe recruitment both of clergy and volunteers.”

Responding to the report, the Rt Revd Dr Steven Croft, Bishop of Oxford, said: “I welcome the report and the recommendations it contains. The events to which it relates have caused immense distress to many. Following the trial and conviction of Ben Field, the Diocese was determined to learn what further action was required to ensure that potentially vulnerable adults attending church are adequately protected from harm. This review helps to challenge the commonly-held view that safeguarding is solely about preventing child abuse, and it is a clarion call for further improvements to our work on LGBTI+ inclusivity, our selection processes for clergy and volunteers, and the training and support the Church provides.”

23 October 2020


Notes for editors:

  • The independent report and recommendations were published in full on 23 October. The Diocese will report progress against each of the recommendations during 2021.
  • We believe this to be the first independent review concerning the Ben Field case. A Domestic Homicide Review is due to report in 2021
  • The report and recommendations are published at
  • For media enquiries, call Steven Buckley 07824 906839 or Liz Hudson on 07702 563211

Independent review published


The Diocese of Oxford has published a summary briefing and recommendations, along with the full report, from the independent review into the circumstances surrounding the complaint under CDM against the Revd Tim Davis.

In December 2017, the Revd Tim Davis was found guilty of conduct unbecoming or inappropriate to the office and work of a clerk in Holy Orders through the abuse of spiritual power and authority over a person then aged 15-16. A penalty imposed under the Clergy Disciplinary Measure (CDM) was immediate cessation of office and prohibition from the exercise of holy orders for a period of two years.

The Diocese of Oxford subsequently commissioned an independent review relating to the reporting, investigation and management of allegations and concerns about the conduct of Revd Davis. The review published today considers the timeline of concerns from within the parish about Revd Davis, delays and frustrations to achieving an acceptable disciplinary outcome, and the ongoing impact of CDM proceedings ‘which were less than satisfactory’.

The review, commissioned by the Bishop of Oxford, was carried out by Amanda Lamb, a specialist in service review and redesign of Children’s Social Care services, and Timothy Briden, barrister and Vicar General of the Province of Canterbury. The reviewers highlight considerable upset, suffering and delays incurred in bringing the matter before the Tribunal and make 11 recommendations for the Diocese and National Church. The recommendations encompass improved communications and pastoral care, appropriate assistance and support both to people pursuing a complaint and the respondent, and suggestions for changes to CDM practice and process.

Responding to the report, the Rt Revd Dr Steven Croft, Bishop of Oxford, said: “On behalf of the Diocese of Oxford, I am very sorry indeed for the shortcomings identified in this case review review and the harm these shortcoming have caused to a number of people. They have contributed to the distress of the survivors and the many people affected in Christ Church Abingdon. Though they had no bearing on the penalty, I also recognise the additional emotional toll that these shortcomings placed on Revd Tim Davis.

As a Diocese, we are deeply committed to learning from these events and to the safeguarding of children, young people and vulnerable adults. During the last four years, we have invested heavily in our safeguarding team, in training and safer processes of support, review and oversight. This report also contains lessons for the whole Church of England that are already being considered through greater awareness of spiritual abuse, the development of better safeguarding processes and the planned revision of the Clergy Discipline Measure (CDM). In the meantime, the Diocese will be working to increase awareness of the CDM, and the advice and support people can expect to receive.”

Notes for editors

New Independent Safeguarding Chairman for the Diocese of Oxford


PETER Hay, CBE, is the new independent chairman of the Diocese of Oxford’s Safeguarding Panel. Read more

Diocese welcomes findings of Serious Case Review


The Diocese of Oxford has welcomed the publication of the Serious Case Review published on Wednesday 1 February by the West Berkshire Local Safeguarding Children Board.

The report was commissioned by the Local Safeguarding Children Board last year to look into how organisations handled allegations of sexual offences against children, which were committed by people in positions of trust. It followed the sentencing of two men earlier that year for separately committing sexual offences against children. One of those was Robert Neill, a teacher sentenced to 21 years for offences between 1986 and 2003, and the other was the Revd Peter Jarvis, who was sentenced to 15 months for offences committed between 2008 and 2012.

The Bishop of Reading, the Rt Revd Andrew Proud, said: “We welcome the findings of the Serious Case Review. We have created an action plan in response to the findings in the report and have already begun to implement the recommendations.

“The Diocese of Oxford takes safeguarding extremely seriously and we are investing more resource in training, following new national guidelines.”

Referring to the case of Mr Jarvis, he added: “Any case like this is a matter of sorrow and regret for the Church of England. We recognise that the suffering of survivors of sexual abuse is profound and long lasting.

“The Church of England will not tolerate abusive behaviour in its clergy or anyone else for whom we have pastoral responsibility. We take allegations of abuse extremely seriously and always work with the statutory authorities to ensure abusers are brought to justice and that pastoral care is offered to those directly affected.”