Appeal to the Archbishop of York, March 2003
B appealed to the Archbishop of York against the summary revocation of his licence by the Bishop of Carlisle on the grounds of sexual harassment, intimidating behaviour, mental abuse and financial irregularities. B argued that the Archbishop’s jurisdiction on the appeal was limited in nature to a review of the justice and propriety of the decision of the Bishop. Rejecting that submission, the Archbishop referred to canon C12(5) and the ‘Elphinstone Rules’ which had been approved by the two archbishops under that canon. He concluded therefrom that he had three main tasks in hearing the appeal:
(i) to review the fairness of the Bishop’s handling of the matter;
(ii) to consider the oral and documentary evidence and submissions in the appeal and decide whether the evidence is sufficient to justify the revocation; and
(iii) in light of the decisions on (i) and (ii) to decide whether to uphold the order for revocation, or to rescind it or vary it.
The Archbishop held that from the date of the lodging of the appeal the jurisdiction in respect of the revocation proceedings passed to himself. Having heard all of the oral evidence, the Archbishop upheld all but one of the complaints made against B.
In relation to requirement (i), the Archbishop held that canon C12(5) did not necessarily require the Bishop to hear oral evidence from and cross-examination of the complainants and that the Bishop discharged his responsibility fairly. In reaching those conclusions he took account of the following facts:
(i) the Bishop was not asked to hold a hearing with oral evidence;
(ii) B’s solicitor was able to make legal submissions to the Bishop, including those arising from the Human Rights Act;
(iii) the Bishop sought and followed independent legal advice about the strength and admissibility of the evidence provided; and
(iv) the Bishop took a three month period between meeting B and reaching his decision in which carefully to consider the appropriate action.
The Archbishop held that in future proceedings under canon C12(5) the minister should be provided with a single document listing the allegations made against him and another document listing the findings made by the Bishop. He further held that the Bishop should have expressly responded to the legal submissions made on behalf of B. Nevertheless, the Archbishop found that B was not prejudiced by the lack of such documents or responses in this case. The Archbishop held that the minister’s opportunity ‘to show reason to the contrary’ before the Bishop under canon C12(5) should be informal and confidential in so far as that is possible. The appeal hearing should have the more formal procedure reflected in the Elphinstone Rules, including oral evidence, cross-examination and submissions. Relying upon Re H and R (Standard of Proof)  AC 563, the Archbishop confirmed that the standard of proof in an appeal under canon C12(5) was the civil standard, such that the more serious the allegation made, the stronger the evidence required to establish that allegation. The Archbishop dismissed the appeal.
(2003) 7 Ecc LJ 239-240