College Statement on Gemma White QC’s Report for Publication
Trinity Hall has today published the Report for Publication of the independent, external Inquiry led by Gemma White QC.
The Governing Body commissioned the independent, external Inquiry in the wake of allegations made in an online news article in February 2020. The confidential Inquiry Report was made available to the Governing Body in February 2021. The Terms of Reference for the Inquiry required Gemma White QC to produce a Report for Publication.
Trinity Hall has also published a College Response, which indicates the actions it has taken directly in response to Ms White QC’s findings and more generally to make improvements to the structures and culture of the institution.
The Governing Body thanks Gemma White QC for her work on the Inquiry and welcomes its thoroughness, range and detail. The Governing Body also wishes to thank those who contributed to the Inquiry. In February 2021, the Governing Body formally voted to welcome the Inquiry Report and to act on its findings and recommendations. The Inquiry process will produce many beneficial outcomes for the College. It has already been and will continue to be a catalyst for review, and where necessary renewal, of our culture and procedures. The Governing Body is committed to taking action in response to Ms White QC’s findings and recommendations in order to promote a safe, welcoming and inclusive environment for all our students, operational staff and Fellows.
The findings of the Inquiry show that errors were made in the handling of allegations of sexual misconduct. Where this was the case, the College apologises unreservedly to the students affected and to the wider College community.
As the College previously reported, the Inquiry Report recommended that the College consider initiating disciplinary action against the former Master, the Reverend Canon Dr Jeremy Morris, in relation to his handling of one allegation made against a former Fellow. The Governing Body determined that there was a prima facie case for disciplinary action. The former Master disputed this recommendation but offered his resignation in August 2021. Read the full statement from August 2021.
As part of her Inquiry, Ms White investigated an allegation made against a now former Fellow of the College by a student named ‘John’ in the article. Due to obligations of confidentiality, the College cannot comment on this investigation or its overall conclusion.
With reference to a recommendation arising in particular from the investigation into the handling of an allegation of sexual misconduct against a former Fellow, a Sexual Misconduct Working Group was established, which included student and alumni representatives. It conducted a cultural survey within Trinity Hall and has reported the results and made recommendations to Governing Body, which are being implemented.
The College wishes students to be assured that support is available to them from multiple sources and that complaints will be handled according to published procedures. Many steps have been taken to improve the processes for handling complaints that are brought to the College’s attention and to improve the processes for any subsequent disciplinary action. These include actively encouraging students to report allegations of sexual misconduct to the Office for Student Conduct, Complaints and Appeals (OSCCA), which is specially resourced to investigate these allegations, providing other options for support and for reporting concerns to staff independent of the Fellowship, and clarifying the College’s procedures for students and Fellows alike.