A bishop at the centre of bullying allegations is facing the threat of legal action after she made “baseless and damaging” claims that a cathedral organist had threatened to attack her.
The Scottish Episcopal Church, which has close links to but is independent from the Church of England, has been handed the findings of two independent reports, including one by Professor Iain Torrance, a former chaplain to the Queen, which were commissioned amid growing discontent.
Dyer gave evidence that Christopher Cromar, then the director of music at St Andrew’s Cathedral in Aberdeen, became “agitated and angry” during a service after being told by email that his services were no longer required. She said she locked herself in the vestry, convinced that she was about to be attacked. Both investigations found there was no evidence to suggest Cromar posed any threat of violence.
In response Cromar, who has given recitals at Westminster Abbey and St Paul’s Cathedral, has told the Most Rev Mark Strange, primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, that he is now considering taking legal action.
“On the advice of counsel I am writing to request, respectfully, that you instruct Anne Dyer to substantiate her claim that I threatened her physically,” he said. “Please instruct her to withdraw this defamatory remark, in writing, as a matter of urgency.”
Strange responded: “I am unable to instruct the Bishop of Aberdeen and Orkney, or in fact any bishop, to do anything. The authority within each diocese rests with each diocesan bishop.”
Cromar insisted that he would seek restitution for the damage done to his career and reputation. “I am looking forward to the [church] making the ‘just resolution’ with me that the Torrance report recommends so I can start rebuilding my life after a year of immense trauma,” he said. “Anne Dyer’s immediate departure is the only way the church and College of Bishops can salvage any shred of credibility.”
Dyer, 64, who is due to retire early next year, sent an email on October 12 last year that said: “Cromar’s intimidating and threatening manner to me at communion was unforgivable. He has made written threats to me.”
However, a report compiled by Sarah Grey, an independent human resources specialist, concluded: “I have found no evidence of any actions or behaviours by Mr Cromar that would have posed a threat to Bishop Anne personally.”
When Cromar raised this directly with Dyer she responded: “The HR report you refer to says what it says.”
Torrance, a former moderator of the Church of Scotland who carried out a wider investigation, said: “The Grey report found no evidence of [threatened violence]. Nor did I. It is a baseless and damaging allegation. Mr Cromar simply threatened to speak to a journalist.”
Strange, speaking for Dyer, said: “If Mr Cromar feels the need to take legal advice over comments he alleges have been made, then that is a matter for him to explore with his lawyer.”
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