Bishop puts pressure on Dean to resign


Religious Affairs Correspondent

The Bishop of Lincoln, the Rt Rev Robert Hardy, suggested yesterday that the Dean, the Very Rev Brandon Jackson, should resign because of the "fear and the sense of intimidation" which many members of the cathedral staff had experienced.

The civil war in Lincoln Cathedral had been dormant since July, when the Dean was acquitted on charges of adultery after a three-day trial. But after the annual meetings of the paid staff of the cathedral, and of its governing body, the Greater Chapter, the Sub-Dean, Canon Rex Davis, issued a statement which read: "I, for one, cannot any longer maintain an ethical spinelessness which colludes with his manifest contempt for the Bishop, for this cathedral, for his colleagues and for the staff which so loyally and silently make the life of this cathedral possible."

The Sub-Dean has long been an implacable enemy of Dean Jackson's, even though the two men once spent a year in counselling sessions with other members of the chapter in an attempt to overcome their mutual loathing.

Bishop Hardy's personal assistant, Canon Raymond Rodger, said: "There is considerable ill-feeling among the staff, and the Dean has lost their confidence. The matter has gone too far, and it is down to the Dean to take whatever steps are appropriate. That could well be his resignation."

The Dean, 60, cannot be sacked and was apointed by the Prime Minister, then Margaret Thatcher, rather than the Bishop. But Canon Rodger said that discussions would take place between all the parties involved.

Bishop Hardy told BBC Radio Lincoln: "It is a matter for the Dean to decide whether he wishes to resign. It is certainly very difficult to see a positive way forward.

"I have tried personally to make a bridge towards the Dean and I have failed. If there is a continuing failure I should feel it my responsibility to discuss the matter once more with the Archbishop and the Crown. That will be sooner rather than later."

After his acquittal in the summer, Dean Jackson had suggested that the Bishop resign. Bishop Hardy refused then, and added yesterday: "I feel that I have got to stay with it and resolve the situation."

The struggle in Lincoln goes back at least as far as Dean Jackson's arrival in 1989, on a mission from God and the Prime Minister, as he conceived it, to break the power of the other four canons of the cathedral chapter, headed by Canon Davis. He tried to force Canon Davis's resignation for exhibiting the cathedral's copy of the Magna Carta in Australia for six months on a fund-raising trip which ended up losing pounds 56,000. Eventually, the Bishop demanded that all parties, including the Dean and Sub- Dean resign. All refused.