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Dean in Oxford college feud is now accused of stroking a young woman’s hair

The cleric at the centre of a bitter feud at an Oxford University college is being investigated by church authorities following an allegation that he made an inappropriate remark and gesture towards a young woman.

The Very Rev Professor Martyn Percy has stepped down as Dean of Christ Church while claims that he stroked the hair of the woman in the cathedral vestry last month are investigated. 

The Mail on Sunday understands that the woman claims Prof Percy approached her after preaching at a Sunday service and said: ‘I couldn’t take my eyes off you this morning.’

Prof Percy denies the allegation, but the claims have leached into a long-running battle that he has been having with dons at Christ Church – despite a Church of England source last night insisting that it had nothing to do with the dispute at the university.

The Very Rev Professor Martyn Percy (above) has stepped down as Dean of Christ Church while claims that he stroked the hair of the woman in the cathedral vestry last month are investigated

The Very Rev Professor Martyn Percy (above) has stepped down as Dean of Christ Church while claims that he stroked the hair of the woman in the cathedral vestry last month are investigated

The Mail on Sunday understands that the woman claims Prof Percy approached her after preaching at a Sunday service and said: 'I couldn't take my eyes off you this morning.' (File image of Prof Percy)

The Mail on Sunday understands that the woman claims Prof Percy approached her after preaching at a Sunday service and said: ‘I couldn’t take my eyes off you this morning.’ (File image of Prof Percy)

Friends of Prof Percy, who is a married father-of-two, said he was ‘distraught’ at the claims and the use of them as a ‘weapon’ to renew efforts by his critics to oust him from his job at Christ Church.

One ally said: ‘Martyn is in an impossible position of being unable to defend himself while detailed allegations against him are being leaked all round the place.’

According to a source, the woman was ‘quite shaken up’ by Prof Percy’s alleged conduct on October 4. ‘She says Martyn came in and approached her and started stroking her hair and being inappropriate. She says he told her, ‘I couldn’t take my eyes off you this morning’,’ the source said.

After speaking with friends, the woman complained to a cleric at the cathedral who set in motion a Church Disciplinary Measure inquiry to formally investigate the allegations.

Governors at Christ Church were informed and it is understood they hired a former police officer to carry out a separate internal investigation.

Governors at Christ Church have run up an estimated £2 million legal bill trying to remove Prof Percy.

Two years ago, he was suspended amid claims of ‘behaviour of an immoral, scandalous or disgraceful nature’ in a dispute relating to his £90,000 salary. 

Governors at Christ Church were informed and it is understood they hired a former police officer to carry out a separate internal investigation. (File image of Christ Church college)

Governors at Christ Church were informed and it is understood they hired a former police officer to carry out a separate internal investigation. (File image of Christ Church college)

The 58-year-old, who friends say is guilty of nothing more than trying to modernise the 500-year-old institution and improve student safety, refused to resign and a retired High Court judge rejected 27 charges against him after an internal tribunal. Despite being exonerated, Christ Church refused to reimburse his £400,000 legal fees.

The dean is now taking the college to an employment tribunal over claims of disability and religious discrimination. 

Earlier this year, the MoS revealed how a group of Oxford dons opposed to Prof Percy exchanged emails in which they described him as a ‘manipulative little turd’ and as having a ‘personality disorder’.

In one, a don wrote: ‘I’m always ready to think the worst of him. Does anyone know any good poisoners?’

It prompted a colleague to fantasise about ‘the Inspector Morse episode we could make when his wrinkly withered little body’ is found.

Christ Church and the Diocese of Oxford declined to comment.

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