Statement by the Bishop of London on 8 July 2022
I wanted to write to you following what has been an extremely challenging week for everybody in the Diocese of London – one which will continue to shape our lives together into the future. The publication of the Lessons Learned Review into the tragic death of Fr Alan Griffin, now followed by the charging, in relation to allegations of fraud, of an individual who formerly worked in the Diocese, has been an extraordinary confluence of events. I am conscious that you may be asked questions by your congregations about both matters, so please feel free to pass on the pastoral message in italics below as you see fit.
Firstly, let me say that in recent days, I have been especially touched with gratitude for your ministry, your support and your honesty, in the gatherings which some of you have attended. It is clear to me that we stand together in our commitment to confronting homophobia and bias, which can have no place in our Church, and in our commitment to change.
In terms of the fraud case, the Metropolitan Police has today confirmed that Martin Sargeant, former Head of Operations in the Two Cities, has been charged with fraud and money-laundering, dating back to between 2009 and 2019. I am all too conscious that, in our recent meetings, I have not been able to discuss this case but I hope you can appreciate now that, over the past year, the LDF has worked closely to support the Police and to maintain the confidential, sensitive nature of their complex investigation at their request. Trustees of the London Diocesan Fund were first informed on a confidential basis, with permission of the Police, earlier this year. Any church or other organisation known to be relevant to these enquiries has already been approached as part of the investigation.
The fraud is historic in nature, and does not relate to Common Fund or the present day funding of parishes. I would like to underline my gratitude to the LDF Team, who have worked tirelessly with the Police over the past year, on what is an extremely complex case. The total sum of money involved is believed to be in the region of £5m, affecting a number of different organisations.
Should you be affected by either of these issues, do not hesitate to contact my Chaplain, Sandra McCalla, for pastoral support at firstname.lastname@example.org. Despite the challenges we face as a church, set against a wider context of war in Europe, political turmoil at home, and as a cost of living crisis takes hold, your ministry and mission are an enduring source of inspiration. Thank you, all of you, for our collegiality and for what you do in supporting your communities with the love of Christ.
The Rt Revd & Rt Hon Dame Sarah Mullally DBE
Pastoral message to your congregations
You may have seen two matters covered in the media this week which relate to the Diocese of London and which may have shocked and affected you.
Firstly, we have published the Independent Report into the death of Fr Alan Griffin and the Diocese’s Response. I am profoundly sorry for all that Fr Alan Griffin endured and have apologised unreservedly to his family and friends and to all those impacted by what happened to him. There is no place for homophobia, bias or prejudice in our Church or in this Diocese. I am wholly committed to the necessary cultural changes to ensure that we live up to this and I know that my clergy colleagues stand together in facing this challenge.
In respect of the case of fraud relating to an individual who formerly worked in the Diocese, this is historic in nature and does not relate to Common Fund or the present day funding of parishes. We have been working with the Police, on a confidential basis by necessity, to assist them in bringing the process to this stage.
When such things happen in the life of the Church, we are all challenged by family, friends, neighbours and colleagues, asking ‘how can this happen?’ We respond in a spirit of repentance and lament, committing ourselves afresh to living out the Gospel in a way which honours Christ and challenges everything in the life of the Church that falls short of reflecting his glory.
My thoughts are with you all in this sad and perplexing time and I ask that you will pray for your clergy and for me, as I pray for you.