Probably the most ingenious mis-use of the standing orders in the case of Rev Peter Timms was the invention of the “nuisance grievance”. This was created in January 2018 by the senior circuit steward in Bexhill, John Troughton – though the idea for it probably emerged following the disastrous meeting between Peter Timms and the District Chair Rev John Hellyer in October 2017. This was when peace talks were turned into an inquisition and Peter Timms would not bend the knee to injustice.


At the end of that meeting, Peter Timms, who was somewhat aroused at the treatment he had received, defied John Hellyer to invent any further punishment for him. He had already been banned from all Methodist Church activities. It seemed at the time that every possible punishment in the standing orders  had been used to persuade him to accept the false confession as being legitimate. He had already been banned from all church activities – what more could Hellyer do?


In fact he was soon to be banned from talking to all members of the Methodist Church about anything to do with the Church.


You are reading this because of Peter Timms’ determination, after that horrendous meeting, that the ordinary members of the Methodist Church should know of what is being done in their name by people such as Rev John Hellyer.  It was after that meeting when this website was born and the film “The Disciples of John Wesley” was made.


And that produced the ban on him speaking to anyone in the Church.


Peter Timms under-estimated the ingenuity of his opposition. They invented the “nuisance grievance”. It has the same effect as a gagging order.  


The “nuisance grievance”  was first used against Peter Timms in January 2018 when Rev John Hellyer’s friend,  John Troughton,  submitted a grievance against Peter Timms with a dozen or so allegations of misdemeanours in the circuit.


These allegations by the senior circuit steward, included four accusations of a criminal nature against Peter Timms and , defamation of various people in Bexhill.


A ban on speaking to anyone about his objections to the horrendous treatment he had suffered was immediately imposed upon Peter Timms.


Ridiculous as the allegations in the grievance were, they effectively stopped Peter Timms from informing other members of the Methodist Church,  not only of the criminal allegations and the defamation of others – but also of the detail of the complaints procedure that he had gone through in the previous two years.


He was reminded  of the confidentiality clause -  SO 1104 (7):


“ The complainant and the respondent and any person who has brought a complaint under previous Standing Orders relating to complaints and discipline or had such a complaint made against him or her must observe at all times the confidentiality of those proceedings. The provisions of Standing Order 1157 apply if there is any breach of this obligation .”


The criminal allegations in the grievance were the most serious, and Peter Timms immediately questioned them. John Troughton immediately withdrew them. However, those charges that remained -  in particular the defamation of a retired lady in Bexhill -  had to be tackled.


Rev Timms was forced to defend himself.  After weeks of work he submitted his response. John Troughton immediately withdrew the action and sent  in a second grievance.


That is the trick of the “nuisance grievance”. There is nothing in the standing orders to stop anyone doing it. 


This bombardment of accusations went on for some four months. A reconciliation meeting was even held and an agreement reached. John Troughton, having shaken hands on the agreement,  then withdrew from the process -  and sent in yet another  grievance. It was more or less the same as the previous one. 


You may think that one cannot do such a thing. But in fact, you can, though it takes someone with a good knowledge of the standing orders to find the relevant sections that allow it. This suggests that it was not John Troughton's idea originally, for he seems to know little of the standing orders.


With this fourth grievance, John Troughton refused to enter any further reconciliation talks and it went to the connexional level.


There was no false confession sent to Peter Timms this time.  Instead the connexional complaints panel  seem to have regarded Troughton’s complaint as something of a hot potato. After all, it covered the same territory as the earlier ones – and Troughton had already shaken hands on a reconciliation agreement about those.


After a long period of consideration, the connexional panel  decided to “pass the parcel”. They sent the matter to the Connexional Advocate to consider disciplinary proceedings against Peter Timms.


There it has lain ever since, a disciplinary panel is slowly going through the various allegations.


Since the date when it was sent to the disciplinary panel in 2019, Peter Timms has remained gagged by SO 1104 (7). Thus, because of the “nuisance grievances” he  has been banned from talking to members of his church about anything connected with the Church for almost three years. He is effectively "sent to Coventry".


The effect of this extraordinary ban is that he is regarded as a guilty man by the local gossip-mongers. They can only guess at the truth behind what they see. His silence seems to demonstrate proof of his guilt. What is actually his acceptance of the standing order on confidentiality in the complaints system  -  SO 1104 (7) – is regarded by the gossips as the outward sign of the  shame at being found guilty of some unknown but serious misdemeanour.


And meanwhile of course the perpetrator of  this, John Troughton, remains untouched in the bosom of the Methodist Church in Bexhill. There is no stain on him.  That is quite a contrast to the supposed stain on Peter Timms’ character.


Even his supporters are bemused. They note that he does not speak out in his own defence – so they assume that he must be guilty of some heinous crime.


That is the ultimate effect of the nuisance grievance.


Methodist circuit stewards are supposed to advance the Christian faith in accordance with the doctrinal standards and the discipline of the Methodist Church.  


Gagging a minister  for three years seems a strange way of going about it - particularly when his cause is just.







This document is written in line with Standing Order 1100 which demands openness in dealing in the Methodist Church



-Peter Hill



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