Dean cleared of adultery blames bishop for trial

Andrew Brown reports on church court case with costs of pounds 200,000

The Dean of Lincoln, the Very Rev Brandon Jackson, who was acquitted yesterday on two charges of improper sexual relations with a former verger, Miss Verity Freestone, has launched an attack on the Bishop of Lincoln.

Cheers, applause and a single cry of "resign, dean" greeted the verdict at the end of a three-day trial at a consistory court sitting in a conference centre on the site of a Victorian lunatic asylum in Lincoln.

Miss Freestone, 32, folded forwards over her knees and sobbed briefly after the verdict and then trudged from the court room with her mother and sister as the Jackson family was embraced by delighted supporters. Mary, the dean's wife, had been in court throughout the hearing.

Dr Jackson, 60, issued a statement saying the case should never have been brought and had done incalculable harm to the Church of England. The case is estimated to have cost pounds 200,000. It is only the second brought on charges of adultery under the Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction measure of 1963 and may be the last. There has been criticism of the cumbersome and expensive procedure.

After the trial, Dr Jackson blamed his court appearance on a "conspiracy" to get rid of him. In a television interview he blamed Robert Hardy, the Bishop of Lincoln, who he said "could have intervened and stopped the proceedings". He added: "It seems that they want to have a public execution of the dean."

Miss Freestone had alleged she had a brief affair with Dr Jackson in 1993, and that they had twice been to bed, once at her house when her mother was away, and once at the deanery when his wife was away. She had told a canon of the cathedral about this in February 1994.

Anne Rafferty QC, for Dr Jackson, described Miss Freestone as "less than stable, less than secure, and determined and relentless and explicit ...". Dr Jackson, she said, had failed to recognise Miss Freestone's developing obsession but had otherwise behaved impeccably.

David Stokes, QC, for the "promoter" or prosecutor, had argued that Miss Freestone lacked the imagination to make up such a detailed story. "A clue to the character of Verity Freestone may be found in her diaries: matter of fact, somewhat mundane documents. You may think she was unsophisticated ... unimaginative," he said.

Judge Richard Hamilton, summing up, said that one side or the other must be telling a pack of lies. Dr Jackson, he said, "is of previous good character; but that probably understates it."

The court had heard six witnesses to Dr Jackson's character, among them the Bishop of Ripon, the Rt Rev David Young, who described him as a person of strong integrity.

The jury of four "assessors", two laymen and two clergymen, deliberated for two hours and five minutes before clearing Dr Jackson on both counts.

Supporters of Dr Jackson said he had been the victim of a vendetta. They pointed to the poisonous history of relations among the chapter at Lincoln Cathedral, where Dr Jackson has been embroiled in bitter struggles since he arrived in 1989.

At one point Dr Jackson called in the fraud squad to investigate a loss- making expedition to Australia, made to exhibit the cathedral's copy of the Magna Carta.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: 3rd Line Virtualisation, Windows & Server Engineer

£40000 - £47000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A 3rd Line Virtualisation / Sto...

Recruitment Genius: Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Service Engineer

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A successful national service f...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Sales - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Fixed Term Contract

£17500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently require an experie...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific