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The case of Peter Timms has dragged on for some six years now. It reached its critical moment during the last months of 2016 when a false confession was sent to him by Mr Chris Kitchin, the leader of a connexional complaints panel - along with a demand that he sign it. Rev Timms knew nothing of the charges of which he had been found guilty in some secret session – so he refused to sign the confession. The wrath of the Methodist Church was turned on him.


Rev Timms asked his friends if they had ever heard of anything of the sort in the Methodist Church. He was shocked to find that the tactic of sending a false confession was known elsewhere in the Church.


He decided to fight this despicable means of settling a complaint. Over the past four years he has devoted his life to correcting the Church’s mistake. The response has been to suspend him from all Church activities and to  harass him with grievances. He is now 90 years of age – and a broken man.


This website was set up in order to help Rev Timms. He has no control over the content. Its genesis is a particular incident when Rev Timms’ District Chair, Rev John Hellyer, refused to look at the false confession document.  


Shocked by the secrecy  that the Church imposes on complaints procedures, and threatened with serious fines and even imprisonment, Peter Timms friend, Peter Hill has nevertheless attempted to tell the members of the Methodist Church what is being done in their name.


The executives of the Church in Methodist House in London have not known what to do about this. In the past their less than ethical actions have been done in secret. They are now exposed to Methodists around the world.  Even during the period of the sex abuse cases they managed to hide behind their rules on confidentiality. It took a special commission to bring those crimes to light.


They ignore the very simple point that no confidentiality clause can be used to cover up a crime – or even a breach of the standing orders of the Church. 


This has been made easier by senior members of the church, such as Graham Danbury, the deputy Coroner of Herefordshire, who have seemed willing to do nothing when told that a friend within the Church has breached  standing orders such as by sending a false confession to a complainant.



Now, after all these years of ignoring the terrible treatment of Rev Timms,  the Church has a means of extrication itself from the mess it is in. It is a golden opportunity that should not be missed.  




In mid 2018, the role of Rev Timms inside the complaints system was changed. Until then he had been listed as a complainant – who, because of the rules, could not lodge an appeal against the perverse decision handed down by the  complaints panel headed by Mr. Chris Kitchin.


But at the start of 2018 the chief circuit steward in Bexhill,  John Troughton,  began to issue a series of “nuisance” complaints. These were largely a mud-sling effort  involving several completely false charges of a criminal nature.  When the mud did not stick, he withdrew swiftly them.


After the third such nuisance grievance, Peter Timms entered into reconciliation with John Troughton – and reached an agreement. The two men shook hands. However, within weeks, John Troughton withdrew his consent to that agreement.


This left the Church and Peter Timms in something of a quandary. John Troughton issued a fourth grievance – very similar to the third. But of course, such matters had largely already gone through the reconciliation process  and agreement had been reached. Why should the Church call upon Rev Timms to answer the charges yet again without being completely hypocritical?


Because of the previous reconciliation agreement, this fourth grievance seemed doomed to fail. The complaints panel chosen to process it took an ingenious way out of the quandary. It “double-downed”.


To get out of the mess, the panel  decided to pass the whole matter upwards – to a disciplinary panel under the Connexional Advocate.


Peter Timms now faced a disciplinary charge.


Although this again seems pointless in the light of the reconciliation over the third grievance, this  new move gives Rev Timms certain advantages that has so far not been available. The rules for respondents are different to those of a complainant.

In general, respondents have more rights in the complaints system than complainants.


According to Standing Order 1100,  a respondent should have an adequate opportunity of responding to the complaint. He should be able to  meet any charge and dealing with the evidence


This is something that Peter Timms has not been able to get granted to him over the past six years.


He has never had an adequate opportunity to respond to such a charge as is now laid against him.


However, in 2017 he was suspended from all church activities – and this was a “trial –run” for the current disciplinary charges. He was suspended because it was alleged that he had initiated the campaign against the decision of the complaints panel in 2016 that John Troughton complained about – and which the Disciplinary panel is now considering.


The outcome of a meeting about the suspension was interesting. Peter Timms attempted to justify any action he had taken about the decision of the complaints panel. But when he presented a copy of the false confession to his District Chair, asking for an opinion, Rev John Hellyer would not even touch it – and said “I am not prepared to answer that question.”


A refusal to even touch the false confession, never mind read it and consider it is not likely to happen with the disciplinary panel.


The rule is that respondents must also  be treated fairly and  receive a fair hearing from any church court which is to decide whether any charge is established.


Peter Timms has never even received a hearing – never mind a fair one. As for fair treatment, the very suggestion of it is a joke. No one would listen to any defence or justification of his actions.


But now that Peter Timms faces a disciplinary charge, he has the rights that were never granted to him as a complainant.


An added advantage now available to him is that disciplinary proceedings involve lawyers – and the system of judgement that they must use the “the balance of probabilities.  This is a system of judgement that lawyers know well. It has specific rules which, unlike Mr. Chris Kitchin, they will stick to religiously.


Included in these rules or standards of the balance of probabilities is that the onus is on the complainant to prove the case with a probability of over 50% . Otherwise the case fails. As  a former senior prison governor, Rev Timms knows the rules of this system very well. The leader of the complaints panel that considered his complaints, seemed less sure of how to operate the rules.


Further, the system of the balance of probabilities is a well-known system used in our  courts. The lawyers on the disciplinary panel cannot change those rules to suit their purposes – as Mr Kitchin did when he led the complaints panel in 2016. They must stick to the rules – and Peter Timms, as a respondent,  has a right to be treated in accordance with the rules.




Peter Timms’ defence no doubt lies in two main areas. The main charge concerns this particular website. He is accused of beginning a campaign against the decision of the complaints panel which considered his complaints against three ministers in the South East district. The main part of this supposed campaign is this website.


His first line of defence is that he has had – and has -  no hand in any part in the production of  website. It was first created  just after the fateful meeting with Rev John Hellyer mentioned above. When he refused to even touch the false confession, never mind consider it, there was only one possible reaction. That was to tell the whole of the Methodist church – all its one hundred and seventy or so members  - what was being done in their name.

As a webmaster, I discussed,   over the four months or so,  an agreement about the website. The agreement precluded Rev Timms from having any say in it at all. This decision was taken for legal reasons. For that reason, I wrote out the agreement between us. This original document has been amended over the years as new aspects of the affair have arisen. It explains however, the separation of powers and responsibilities between Rev Timms and myself.


A film was shot for the website, but, although Rev Timms gave an interview for it, he had no control over the editing, the format, the general content, nor the publication and the distribution.


In order to avoid Rev Timms breaching confidentiality in this interview, he was asked questions about his reactions to matters such as the false confession and the covert surveillance placed upon him in Bexhill which he had written about in his seventh set aside motion.

 Rev Timms’ second line of defence may be that, no matter whether or not he was involved in the so-called campaign, any such action was completely justified because of the serious breaches of Standing Orders that occurred during the complaints inquiry of late 2016 and particularly whn, in October 2017,  Rev Hellyer refused to consider any evidence – including the false confession.


His position may well be that he has stood up to defend the central doctrines of the Methodist Church against certain persons who have sought to bend them to suit their own purposes.


After all, the evidence is that  a senior member of a connexional team first judged and convicted a minister in his absence. This was tantamount to conducting a Star Chamber. He  followed  this up by trying to coerce him into signing  a false confession of guilt. Surely such actions constitute, at the very least,  a breach of the guiding principles of the Methodist Church?


Indeed, Peter Timms might well argue that the treatment he received at the hands of the panel of inquiry in 2016 was entirely contrary to the central doctrines of the Methodist Church. Since he first objected in November 2016, he has written extensive reports and summaries of such breaches of standing orders over the years.

Those who have been harassing Peter Timms for the past four years may find themselves accused  of having committed  a serious breach of the discipline of the Church as contained in the Methodist Church Act 1976, the Deed of Union, the Model Trusts or Standing Orders.

 They may find that the disciplinary panel alleges that they have  shown serious disregard of a resolution of the Conference or the usage of the Church10 as it is generally understood.

 There might be charges that they have seriously impaired the mission, witness or integrity of the Church  by their words, acts or omissions.

 Actions such as Rev John Hellyers’ refusal to even touch, never mind read,  the false confession, may illustrate that he showed little  proper regard to his  office or standing in relation to the Church. That  is the proper responsibility for a District Chair as determined in the Standing Orders.


A further argument for Peter Timms’ defence might be the fact that the Disciplinary Panel has been considering the case for about a year.  This is far in excess of what the standing orders expect of a disciplinary panel. Although there is no specific time limit on such matters, such inquiries are supposed to be expedited as swiftly as possible. Many wonder why it is taking so long. It is now two and a half years since circuit steward John Troughton began this final phase of the affair in April 2018.


Some believe that the Church is delaying in the hope that Peter Timms, whose health has been seriously affected by the stresses of the matter, will die. Such a despicable act can surely not be true. The Methodist Church cannot stoop to such low tactics.




It is difficult to determine what is happening inside the disciplinary process. There is no open court in the Methodist Church, nor is there any means by which a member of the Church may discover what has happened inside the hearing.


However, much can be deduced from actions that took place before the disciplinary charge was issued. In particular, the meeting between Rev Hellyer and Peter Timms in October 2017, at which I was present, shed much light on the possible current discussions.


A glance around this website shows that Peter Timms will  have  a lot of evidence to present in order to justify the campaign that I have run.  The Church has simply refused to listen to his objections about the false confession and other matters.


Peter Timms will no doubt point out that the chief legal adviser in Methodist Church House, Louise Wilkins, told him that any further letters he sent in would not be answered, but instead placed in a file unread.


Now that the Church will have to listen to him, it presents them with  a quandary. They have not listened to him for four years, what  will be their reaction when they must finally consider  the outrageous  treatment he has been subjected to?  Will they continue to stubbornly refuse any independent investigation into what the members of the complaints panel in 2016 got up to? Will they investigate how information from their spies in Bexhill managed to get onto their desk? Will they review the system of hearing witnesses  -  so that a biased complaints panel cannot choose who to hear from?  


There are also other matters which can only become mentioned if the decision of the disciplinary panel goes one way or the other.


Peter Timms and I discussed certain of my future plans for the website before we divided our responsibilities for it – cutting him out altogether. In those days we expected a final decision imminent.

I recently mentioned some of these plans to him – so that I might start preparations, for one always fears the worst when dealing with the Methodist Church on this matter.  Peter  said that nothing of that nature could be discussed until the disciplinary panel reached a decision. From this I deduce that there is no immediate hope of a decision. The hope therefore is that the panel may well be coming out in his favour.


The Church executives - in particular Rev Jonathan Hustler, has been handed a golden opportunity to do the right thing and settle the Timms affair. We must hope that they do not throw away their chance yet again.


This website will bring you the latest news on this as it happens.




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