Bullying claims against first woman bishop ‘should be published’

Mounting calls to publish secret report which makes allegations of bullying by the Right Reverend Anne Dyer.

Bullying claims against first woman bishop ‘should be published’ STV News
The Right Reverend Anne Dyer became Scotland's first woman bishop in 2018.

A secret report which makes allegations of bullying by Scotland’s first female bishop should be published, church figures have said.

The Scottish Episcopal Church ordered an investigation into the Diocese of Aberdeen and Orkney, including claims against the Right Reverend Anne Dyer.

Several people came forward to allege that they had been bullied by the 64-year-old, who became Scotland’s first woman bishop in 2018.

The report, which has been seen by STV News, calls on her to step down, however the findings are yet to be released into the public domain, despite a church promise to do so in March.

There are mounting calls for it to be published, with more than 600 people signing an online petition.

Diocese trustee Reverend Professor David Atkinson said: “It seems to me that the report now needs to be released, so that people can see what’s in the report and so action can begin to sort things out.

“I know that’s a view that’s not just mine.”

‘Systematic dysfunction’

Earlier this year, the Episcopal Church’s College of Bishops announced an independent review into what it described as “difficulties” in the diocese.

It said it had been ordered by Bishop Dyer herself, following “unsubstantiated and anonymous allegations against her”, which included claims of bullying.

The report, by Professor Iain Torrance, found a “systemic dysfunction” within the diocese

In his conclusion, he wrote that did not believe Bishop Dyer had the trust and confidence of a number of priests in the diocese.

“I cannot recommend that continuation of a tenure in which I fear that more people will be made to feel diminished and discouraged,” Prof Torrance wrote.

“Consequently, I recommend that, for the good of the diocese, she be immediately granted a period of sabbatical leave and step back permanently from the diocese.”

The report said there had been a suggestion that the root of Bishop Dyer’s difficulties lay in objections to having a female bishop.

But Prof Torrance said he had not found any evidence for that, and recommended that the church set up a judicial committee to respond to the allegations.

What is the church saying?

The Scottish Episcopal Church said a further review had been ordered by the College of Bishops.

The Most Reverend Mark Strange, Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, said: “The report raises serious issues and concerns and the context of the matters reported on is complex.

“The proposed continuation of the review described last week is an attempt to allow a fair and impartial account to be gathered of what is a very complex conflict and there are matters on which the College has not so far been able to reach consensus.

“However, the Bishops are determined that the Scottish Episcopal Church should be a church where all are valued and can safely minister, work and worship, and wishes to support a process towards healing and reconciliation within the diocese.”