The Scottish Episcopal Church’s procurator, or senior legal officer, has been tasked with investigating complaints of bullying and misconduct lodged against the church’s first woman bishop, the Rt. Rev. Anne Dyer.
On 8 November 2023 the SEC’s Preliminary Proceedings Committee stated the Canon 54 complaints lodged against Bishop Dyer “require further consideration have been referred to the Church’s internal procurator as the next stage of the canonical process. The remainder have been dismissed.”
Under Canon 54 the PPC may refer the accusation for trial to the Procurator, decide no further action is warranted, or refer the accusation and the results of the investigations to the police.
The SEC statement noted the “procurator will now decide whether to take the complaints that have been referred to him to a hearing before the Clergy Disciplinary Tribunal.”
Bishop Dyer was suspended by the College of Bishops after complaints of bullying and misconduct were leveled against her. An investigation by Professor Ian Torrance commissioned by the SEC concluded that Bishop Dyer’s position was “irrecoverable” and that she had created a culture of bullying and dysfunction. Prof. Torrance also revealed that Bishop Dyer had previously resigned from her role as warden of Cranmer Hall, a theological college at Durham University, following bullying accusations made against her.
The College of Bishops declined to act on Prof. Torrance’s recommendations, and pursued a course of mediation. This failed to resolve the disputes, leading to the commencement of canonical disciplinary proceedings.
In 2021 an investigation commissioned by church trustees in Aberdeen also found Bishop Dyer acted in an “unchristian” manner and made unsubstantiated allegations against a colleague whose contract she wanted terminated. The bishop has denied the allegations, accusing a “small cabal of church members” of opposing her due to her support for same-sex marriage and because she is a woman.
The SEC statement noted: “Bishop Anne remains suspended as the Canon 54 process continues. With effect from 1 November 2023, Bishop Dorsey McConnell was appointed by the College of Bishops to take over from Bishop John Armes the role of acting Bishop of Aberdeen and Orkney, which Bishop John had fulfilled since September 2022.”