This story may prove to be about a good, hard-working woman who was led astray by a highly-reputable man who was much older than she. That is for the reader to decide. The woman in question is a  minister dedicated to Jesus. It seems that she was so busy with her work for the Church, that she failed to see the danger signs in what was going on in her name behind her back. Too late, she found that could not extricate herself from the situation. She had perhaps to choose  between honesty and expediency -  but it was too late. She ended up in a conspiracy for which she is eternally shamed.  

This article examines how and when Rev Val Reid may have reached the conclusion that she had been deceived about the fact that Rev Peter Timms had been sent a false confession to sign.





At the Methodist Conference in Birmingham,  there were informal conversations about a complaint that had been received from an aged minister, Peter Timms, against three of his fellow ministers in Bexhill.

The senior Methodist complaints worker, Rev Alan Bolton, already had in mind Mr. Christopher Kitchin

Chris was a friend of Graham Danbury, an eminent Methodist who sat on the very influential Law and Polity Committee. And Chris, as all knew him, was also a magistrate. He was  obviously reliable and trustworthy.


The question was – who should sit beside Chris on the complaints panel? Bolton’s eyes lighted upon a well-known energetic woman who was currently serving on the committee of scrutineers  at Conference - Revd Valerie Reid.


Val Reid was well-known in the Methodist Church. She was not only a minister in Hinde street – just down the road from Methodist Church House – but she was also one the most energetic and dedicated ministers  in the whole of London.


Rev Val Reid is a lady of strong views -  of the Donald Soper school. She has been known to take on politicians such as Boris Johnson in her sermons. Her mission is to serve the poor, the needy, and the downtrodden. She was also, ironically, on record as believing that:


“The trouble with ministry is that all our mistakes are very public ones.”

This was ironic because in September 2016, Val was about to make a big mistake.

Hinde Street Church is well-known for its thinkers. The ministers there love evaluating ideas, they  love discussions, they  love exploring the Bible, politics and social issues.


Val Reid’s interests were demonstrated by her good works in Hinde Street.  She ran a drop-in for homeless people. She was a part of the Westminster Winter Night Shelter project.  She was on the Faith committee of the Westminster Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education. Doing things to help people was, and is,  an integral part of Val Reid’s expression of her  faith.


Perhaps her most interesting innovation was the Hinde Street meditation group which she ran with her good friend  Rev Sue Keegan von Allmen. It involved  25 minutes of  meditation in absolute silence. Group members were then invited to share any thoughts or insights which had occurred to them during their  meditation. This was a great success.


Rev Val Reid was also very interested in Mediation in settling disputes. This may have prompted Alan Bolton into thinking that she was  ideal for the job of handling a complaint within the Church.


Val Reid was active in the  “Public Law Project”. The PLP is  an important  national  charity which aims  to improve access to justice when it is denied to the poor and the disadvantaged -  perhaps even when it is denied to a ninety year old Methodist minister.


The fairness, and transparency of decisions of public bodies is of particular concern to the PLP  - and this led it to publish a report in 2009   entitled  “Mediation and Judicial Review”. Val Reid was a member of the team that drew up this report.


The objective of the review was to investigate the value of mediation. One of its conclusions, of particular relevance to the Rev Timms case, was that mediation can, and often does, provide long-lasting benefits in disputes.  Val Reid put her signature to the PLP report which stated that:


“It could therefore be said that, rather than being the ‘cheap justice’ that mediation providers promote and that practitioners have objected to, mediation might in fact be a Rolls Royce option.”


Alan Bolton was a serious well-meaning man who was no doubt,  attracted by the idea of having a “Rolls Royce option” on the complaints panel.

And so Val Reid was approached to join the panel considering Rev Peter Timms’ complaints.  


Unfortunately, late 2016 was a very busy period for Val Reid. She was preparing a report for the Church Council on the Inclusive Church Group, which Hinde Street was thinking of joining. She was also deeply involved in the preparation of an exciting  exhibition about injustice.






When the complaints procedure was due to start, Val Reid had a major problem on her mind. Hinde Street had hit the headlines in a big way – causing serious complaints being sent to Methodist Church House.


On September 19th 2016, Val Reid, along with the other ministers at Hinde Street, opened an exhibition called “You cannot pass today”.


The exhibition was based on ‘Checkpoint 300’, a crossing between Bethlehem and Jerusalem.  Val Reid had a big hand in this exhibition, for she is very keen on Palestinian issues. The exhibition in Hinde Street was the cause of  serious criticisms,  particularly from the Jewish community. Methodist Church House had to take these complaints serioiusly.


Jonathan Hoffman, a blogger who wrote primarily for “United with Israel” complained that the exhibition has been a complete disaster and was a catalyst for anti-Semitism. One visitor had labeled Israeli soldiers as ‘scum’. Another visitor called for Israelis to be burned. Another complainant – apparently a Methodist – said that he had emailed Val Reid expressing his disquiet and asking that she host another exhibition showing positive aspects of Israel.

This was the kind of controversy that Val Reid's overtly political views tended to raise. However, being so conscientious, she did not consider herself blind to the opinion of others. So she spent a lot of time in September 2016 answering the charges that came into her office.

With the Israeli-Palestine conflict weighing so heavily on her mind, it would not be surprising if  Val failed to stay in close contact with Chris Kitchin when he began consideration of the complaints by Peter Timms.

Was it merely coincidence that it was at this point that the Timms case began to go so wrong? It is quite conceivable Val Reid may not have learned about what Chris Kitchin  was doing in the name of the complaints panel – and therefore in her name. No doubt she thought that if anything important came up, he would email her.

While Val Reid was fending off criticism of the Israel exhibition, she may not have learned that Chris Kitchin was demanding that Rev Timms sign a false confession.  It is unclear whether, at this point, he was duty-bound to reveal this to his two fellow panel members, but given the heinous nature of what he was doing, it might have been wise to do so.

As the leader of the panel, Chris Kitchin was telling the hapless minister Rev Timms, that he was guilty of quite a different misdeed  -  and that he had to admit his guilt before he could received any help from the panel of inquiry about his complaints.

Peter Timms had been found guilty in “secret session” of having  breached confidence by reminding a colleague, in an email, that his   complaints against the three ministers had gone to the national level. Most Methodists  in Bexhill were aware of this of course – but Chris Kitchin seemed to think that this reminder was a breach of standing orders. He demanded that Peter  Timms should confess his guilt immediately - in writing.

Down in Hinde Street, just a short walk from Church House, the ministers were all busy with the outcry about the Israel exhibition. One of them, Rev  Katherine Fox ,was due to give a sermon. It was an opportunity  to help quell the uproar. She wrote  a kind of manifesto that set out the Hinde Street view.   And of course, it echoed much of Val Reid’s views on justice.

Whilst Val Reid was concerning herself with justice for Palestinians, justice for Rev Peter Timms seemed to be of little concern to her. Considering her dedication to justice, this deserves an explanation.


The Hinde Street manifesto had several pertinent points  that should have influenced Val Reid's judgment as a complaints panel member.

From the  pulpit in the venerable Hinde Street Church, Katherine Fox said:

“We all have those moments where we see something that brings us up short, makes us say “hang on a minute, this can’t be right”, that makes us squirm, precisely because we know it is both real and unjust.”

Anyone who reads the pages of this website or watches the film about the case, will surely have this very same reaction to the story of Peter Timms. A false confession with threats – followed by systematic spying on the person making the complaint – that can’t be right can it?  Yet it is both real – and unjust.


Because of her obvious integrity of character, we might surmise that Val Reid did not know of the false confession at this point in time - even though  Chris Kitchin was busy following up his first letter containing the false confession with an email to Peter Timms  demanding an immediate self-incriminating response.

Rev Timm’s bewilderment about Chris Kitchin’s unjust demands  was expressed in the first line of his reply to that email from Chris Kitchin. He wrote it, coincidentally,  on the very day when the Hinde Street sermon was given:


“Dear Chris…I am puzzled by your request for a signed undertaking and if you would let me have the information given to you prompting your request I will look at it with care. I found the implied threat, should I decline, that information could be withheld from me, somewhat disquieting”.


Meanwhile, as he wrote this,  Val Reid’s colleague in Hinde Street, Katherine Fox, was saying:


 “Sadly, there is more injustice in the world than any one person can speak about………..All injustice is not just and needs to stop. It is a barrier to a new heaven and a new earth full of God’s love.”


These words largely followed the views that Val Reid had already expressed in an article which she wrote in 2009. Her view was that justice is inextricably linked with the teachings of the Methodist Church:


Social justice is an important part of our Methodist DNA, and doing things to help people is an integral part of how we express our faith.”


Val Reid strongly believed that Methodists should not give up fighting injustice, no matter  the  difficulties.   No matter whether the opposition was politicians, such as her favoured target Boris Johnson, or the Israelis who, she considered, acted unjustly against Palestinians on the West Bank, Methodists should not give in stay silent in the face of criticism:

That’s not an excuse to give up. To keep quiet.  To fail to challenge injustice or inequality when we see it.”

Challenging injustice when she sees it is one of Val Reid’s main aims in life – and, like her friend Katherine Fox, Val Reid links her religion with justice:

 “to put God first, to the demands of the law for justice in the land.”

Peter Timms could hardly have had a better supporter for his cause, Val Reid was surely someone who would help him,  and encourage him to stand up against injustice - and not stay silent about it.

But while Val Reid was concerning herself with justice for the Palestinians, letters from Peter Timms, copied to her from Chris Kitchin, seem to have been left, unread, on her desk in Hinde Street.

The evidence therefore suggests that on September 19th 2016, Val Reid was not aware of what Chris Kitchin was doing in her name.




DATELINE  …….16th October  2016 ………BEXHILL and LONDON.

On this day Rev Timms sent a letter to Chris Kitchin in which he outlined why he thought it impossible for November 15th 2016 to be the date for the final hearing of his complaint.

He wrote:

“As the correspondence stands at the moment, you have not only issued an ultimatum, but ignored several points of information I raised with you - a factor which is delaying matters. This, in my opinion, is becoming close to ignoring the principles associated with discrimination in Bellamy’s “Complaints and discipline in the  Methodist Church”


He referred Kitchin to a paragraph of an earlier letter of October 4th - to which he had had no reply:


“Further, your suggestion that I sign a clause of confidentiality is unnecessary, since I am already governed by S.O. 1104. Your addition of a confession by me to having already breached confidentiality is inaccurate, and indeed unworthy of you. It is prejudicial to the outcome of this inquiry.”


Most pertinently, he added:


“I trust that you will reply to this letter at the earliest possible date. Further I trust that you will convey its contents to your two colleagues on the inquiry, who I trust will receive copies of all the exchanges. I do not wish there to be any misunderstanding concerning why there is such a problem with the November date. Not to keep them fully informed might be regarded as being prejudicial.”


Why did Peter Timms specifically mention Kitchin's two colleagues on the complaints panel? Had he heard a whisper from Methodist Church House that Kitchin was running the inquiry without consulting the two ministers who were to help and advise him?

It may be that Val Reid knew nothing of what Chris Kitchin  was doing to Rev Timms, but the fact that Kitchin was setting up a final hearing demonstrates that she knew something of what was going on - at least the schedule for the complaint procedures. But did she know the detail of the injustice being perpetrated upon Peter Timms?

Possible evidence on this was contained in her sermon of this date. It  contained several passages which might have been directed straight at Kitchin:

She said:

Sometimes it seems as though the fight for justice and freedom and equality is such a long one that we might as well give up.”


“If God wants a world of justice and freedom and equality, what’s he waiting for?”


The lesson of this was clear - one should act against signs of injustice from the moment one learns of them, - and not give up.

Perhaps most pertinently in her sermon on the day that Peter Timms wrote his letter, she said something that could have been aimed directly at the bewildered minister:

“God offers us the chance to co-operate with him in the long struggle against injustice,... against growing inequality. We need to pray always, and not lose heart.”

Placed on the internet within days, this sermon engendered great encouragement in Peter Timms and his supporters. Val Reid, it seemed, was telling them, and in particular Rev Timms,  not to lose heart.

Did that extend to "do not sign the confession"? Did she therefore know what Chris Kitchin had done?


If the Timms case was indeed at the back of Val Reid’s mind when she delivered this sermon, any advice she might have given the leader of the panel was nevertheless ignored. The persecution of Rev Timms by Chris Kitchin continued.







This is the date on which Methodist Church House learned, perhaps for the first time, of the irregular dealings in the Timms case. It was three months after Peter Timms was sent the false confession.

If there is any doubt about when Val Reid learned the truth of what Chris Kitchin was doing to Rev Timms, this is a day to take note of.

One might consider that, this being three months into the inquiry, she was already trapped. As a member of the complaints panel,  she was accountable for what had happened.

On this date, Peter Timms’ friend, Peter Hill, journeyed into London to meet with Rev Alan Bolton, the Head of the Complaints section in Methodist Church House. Peter Timms himself was once again in hospital in Hastings, with heart problems. He had asked Hill to meet with Alan Bolton to try to settle the affair.

Hill was still relatively new to the case - for example, he did not have a copy of the false confession. He had read it just once, three months before. Peter Timms had guarded it carefully.

Although Alan Bolton was the Head of the complaints section, he too knew few details of the case.  The two men could only deal in generalities. Nevertheless, the basis for the false confession  -  Rev Timms’ supposed breach of confidentiality - was discussed.

Hill he made it clear that Kitchin’s initial steps in the inquiry had been to “actively go out finding witnesses against Rev Timms” – acting in the fashion of an “inquisitorial juge d’instruction”. He thought that practice irregular, particularly when Rev Timms was the complainant.   He considered it to be a situation in which the minister’s name was blackened without there being any evidence to back up the accusation.

Alan Bolton protested that Peter Timms was not on trial. That was not how the system worked. It was not a judicial process, deciding who was right and who was wrong. He said that if Peter Timms  wanted reconciliation, that should be explored. He also mentioned mediation - perhaps with Val Reid in mind. 

However,  he said in summary, he always avoided offering any advice in any particular complaint.

It seemed to Hill that the false confession could not be part of something that was “not a judicial process”. Peter Timms had clearly been tried and found guilty. This was clearly the result of a judicial process.

At the end of this one-hour meeting, the Head of the Complaints section was, at the very least, aware that there was some disquiet about the way that the complaints inquiry was being run.


This meeting may well have had consequences. Alan Bolton might have been alarmed to hear that that Chris Kitchin had been demanding that Peter Timms should attend a hearing on November 15th.  However, Hill was in his office because Peter Timms had been ill and was in hospital with heart problems. How could he possibly have attended a meeting a fortnight earlier? Yet that had been the demand.

That somewhat bizarre unthinking demand by Chris Kitchin might have caused Alan Bolton to intervene, for clearly there was something that had gone wrong.  

And if that were not enough to cause Alan Bolton to intervene, Hill's talk of an “inquisition” should certainly have  alarmed him.

Although Bolton said that it was his policy to keep out of such matters, it seems possible therefore that  he might at least have taken a short walk down Marylebone High Street to have a quiet word with Val Reid. She might be able to verify or deny some of what Hill had told him.

The question would be - how much did Val Reid know of what had gone on?






On this day the final hearing of the case took place. Peter Timms was not present – he was still too ill to attend.

The report on the decision of the panel was drawn up over the next two weeks.  It stated  that, at various stages in the process, the team was guided on procedure and process by advice from the Connexional Complaints Officer ( Alan Bolton) and the officer for Legal and Constitutional practice (Mrs Louise Wilkins).

This “guidance” was directly contrary to the assertion by Alan Bolton to Peter Hill that he always avoided offering any advice in any particular complaint. So who was telling the truth?

If true however, this reference to "guidance" in the final report suggested that Alan Bolton might indeed have walked to Hinde Street to have a confidential chat with Val Reid about what she knew of Chris Kitchin's actions against Peter Timms.

It is possible of course that Val Reid herself might have been having doubts by now. It might have been she who actually had gone to Church House for guidance, not "the team".

Either possibility suggests that the date of this "consultation" may well be when she finally heard about the allegation that Chris Kitchin had sent Peter Timms a false confession to sign. Alan Bolton certainly knew of the allegation - he had heard it from Hill. Would he really not have mentioned it, or asked about it,  during the "consultation"?

So it seems unlikely that Val Reid could not have known about the false confession document after this "consultation".

The complaints panel's report also stated that  “during the course of this investigation the Complaints Team became aware of a pattern of manipulative and harassing behaviour by the complainant ( Rev Timms) towards both lay and ordained people”. 

They presented no evidence for this accusation. Consideration of the wording of above-quoted letter written by Peter Timms on October 16th suggests the accusation of "bullying"  is unlikely.

When the complaints panel decided that Peter Timms’ request that the hearing be delayed was “bullying”, did Val Reid have Peter Timms' letters  on the table before her, for consideration? It seems unlikely - so perhaps one may assume that the only version she knew of the exchanges was that given to the panel by Chris Kitchin.


How else might we explain the inverted logic when the panel came to write that they would not bring a complaint against him about this 'bullying'   “in view of (his) considerable age and recent ill-health”!

It may be significant that, although the report mentioned “the team”, all the alleged bullying and harassment was wholly contained in Peter Timms’ dealings with Chris Kitchin. Val Reid would only have Chris Kitchin's word about Timms' behaviour.  And further, if she asked him about the "false confession" she would have had to be satisfied with Chris Kitchin's version of it, for they had no other. 

She may have found herself confronted with a choice - should she take on the leader, Chris Kitchin - or just accept his version of things?  Would that not lead to a distasteful power struggle?

When the report was finalized, a copy of the "false confession" was included as an appendix. It is therefore inconceivable that she was not aware of its contents whilst the report was being compiled. But she did not question it.

What is doubly surprising is that Val Reid had been close to many allegations about false confessions throughout 2016. Her work on the Israel-Palestine exhibition meant she inevitably knew of the investigations taking place into stories of young Palestinians being dragged out their beds  and presented with false confessions to sign.

One such case in particular hit the headlines in late 2016  because it went to the Israeli  High Court. It concerned an 11 year old Palestinian girl  who had been held in prison for four and a half months.  Her lawyer claimed that she was coerced into signing a false confession - even though it was in Hebrew, which she could not read. The High Court ruled the confession inadmissible. One commentator remarked: "confessions have often been extorted to save law enforcement officials the trouble and effort of obtaining valid and independent evidence ".

By mid-December 2016 d Val Reid certainly knew about Peter Timms' complaint that he had been sent a false confession to sign. Considering her interest in Palestine, it is difficult to accept that she had actually read the document that Chris Kitchin insisted be placed in the complaints committee's final report  - as  an appendix justifying his actions in the case.

However, she would find herself in a quandary. Could she now attempt to stop the inquiry and demand an investigation into the integrity of the leader of the panel of inquiry? It was a difficult decision. If she did raise doubts, it would inevitably raise questions about her own integrity. And after the Israel exhibition disaster, this might cause some concern about her in the upper circles of the Church.

A quick decision had to be taken. The panel had to finish its work before the Christmas period. Val Reid also had to write a sermon for Christmas Eve in Hinde Street.

This sermon bears examination in detail, for it may provide clues to her state of mind at that time.

Remarkably, since she tells the story of the hounding of Joseph, Mary and Jesus into exile in Egypt, she does not mention the word "justice" once. That is rare for Val Reid.

The sermon  is largely concerned with "two truths" - the "official" and the "reported."  Val Reid argues that we do not find salvation in the "official truth." She does not trust the version of truth that those in power would have her believe. She poses the question:

“What do you do if you are an outsider to power?”

Is this a message to Methodists that there are "two truths" in the Timms case - the official one in the complaints panel report - and the "Timms version", which is not represented?

And is she seeing both Peter Timms and herself as "an outsider to power"?

Was she perhaps appalled by what Chris Kitchin had done, but, being an "outsider to the power" she found that she was unable to do much about it? After all, the reality is often that "might is right".

After all, Chris Kitchin held great power within the Church, particularly because of his friendship with Graham Danbury, a major voice on the Law and Polity Committee.

Did Val Reid sit at her desk in  Hinde Street,  bemused as to what she might do about the false confession? And did she finally light on this means of telling the truth? Is Val Reid's Christmas Eve sermon the means by which she salved her conscience about the false confession?

It may have seemed to her that the many hours she had spent “mopping up” after the Israel - Palestine exhibition had claimed its final casualty – Peter Timms.







On this date, Rev Timms' friend, Peter Hill,  again visited Alan Bolton, the chief complaints officer  in Methodist Church House. There had been no news about the panel’s actions and Rev Timms was again in hospital with heart problems. He was now awaiting an operation for the insertion of a pacemaker.

Hill travelled into London to find out if there was any news - and to give a report on Timms’ health. He had a written list of questions which Peter Timms had given him.

It was a relaxed, friendly, meeting. However, Hill soon noticed a tactic in Bolton’s approach that is familiar to defence lawyers engaged in civil suits for damages.

The first step in this tactic is to try to “change the language” of the complaint in order to lessen the impact. Incriminating words are simply left out.

The next step is to attempt to “lessen the damage” by describing it in terms which might make the actions seem perfectly normal - and within the rules of behaviour.

This is followed by “turning the tables” and accusing the complainant of taking actions that made things worse – or better still, alleging that he created the whole problem in the first place.

Finally, if one is getting nowhere, the ploy of "kicking it into the long grass" should be used.

Hill saw the signs of this strategy and assumed that not only Gareth Powell, the Secretary to Conference, had been consulted by Alan Bolton, but also Louise Wilkins the senior legal officer in Church House. She would be well aware of how to defend an action.

Bolton began as if he wanted peace above everything. He then set about trying to play down the serious nature of the issues.

In response to a remark by Hill, he denied that the Church was trying to do anything “nasty” to Rev Timms. Hill was alerted - for he had not used the word "nasty" -  that was Bolton's adjective for it. It was an attempt to change the language of the debate.

Bolton claimed that  it was Peter Timms who wanted to pursue the issues, not the Church. For Timms  to then complain that he was being “put through the ringer” was not right. Nevertheless, said Bolton, he would raise the matter in the Conference office.

He was trying to "kick it into the long grass".

Hill read out Peter Timms’ question about there being no appeal available.  Bolton confirmed that this was so. He again down-played the issue. He said he was not talking about the rights and wrongs of this situation - but it was simply the procedural position. It was sad – but those are the rules. There was nothing amiss there.

Alan Bolton was nonplussed however when Hill read out to him, from Peter Timms' notes, that Mr Kitchin had demanded a submission about three separate complaints on just two A4 sheets of paper. He agreed that this restriction was not in accord with standing orders.

Hill mentioned that Rev Timms had the impression that Mr. Kitchin was doing everything himself and that the two ministers on the panel were not taking much part in the matter at all. Bolton apparently knew nothing of this.

The conversation then turned to the false confession – and Alan Bolton came out with a watered–down version of the Kitchin document.

He said that at the particular point in the inquiry when this had occurred, Mr. Kitchin, as leader, had the right to ask any person involved for a commitment that he would not breach confidentiality in the future – if, in his view, there had been a breach of confidentiality.

So the request was perfectly in order.

Hill asked him whether it was the Church’s position that in such circumstances there would be no need to inform the accused person of this determination in advance, and that there was also no need to give the accused any opportunity to defend himself against the accusation.  

Bolton replied that “all Rev Timms was being asked to do was to sign a statement that he would not breach confidentiality”. He had avoided the issue. He had conveniently left out the section of what Kitchin had written which referred to previous breaches of confidentiality.

This, then, was the Church’s position – revealed for the first time. Nothing irregular had been done.

Hill responded to Bolton’s “rewrite” of the confession  by pointing to two  particular words in it -  “have been”.

The document read

I understand the Connexional Complaints Team has reviewed the evidence it holds and has determined, in accordance with Standing Order 1157, that there have been several breaches of confidentiality by me.”

He pointed out that by signing his name to that, Timms would be admitting that there had already been such breaches of confidentiality. Since Timms denied that, he would have been signing a false confession.

Bolton thought that there had been a misunderstanding.  Hill expressed surprise. He repeated that the words “have been” indicated an admission of guilt. Furthermore, Kitchin had not requested any response in defence from Timms – it was already an established fact, a “done deal” in the mind of Chris Kitchin.

Hill went on to say that, in any case,  the whole matter that had produced this document was nothing at all to do with the actual complaint that Timms had laid against the three ministers. He claimed that it was merely an attempt to blacken Timms’ reputation in advance of the inquiry.

Bolton conceded that the complaints process could only address the specific complaints against the specific people mentioned.  However, he added that the complaints team could look at anything  they thought was relevant, though all the participants would need to be aware of this.

Hill said that Timms had not been told that such an investigation had been going on.   Further, Timms had told him that this document was the very first thing he had received from Kitchin in the entire affair. Mr Kitchin had intended that the very first reply to him from Peter Timms would be a confession.

Hill then read out a request from Peter Timms that a formal inquiry be made. Bolton said he had no power to initiate any inquiry.

Downplaying the issue as he did – and appearing to be a peacemaker -  was a noble effort by Bolton to either protect the members of the complaints team – or to at least minimize the damage done by the document.

He did not, of course, deal with the fact that the coercion to sign the document had continued for almost two months after Timms had confirmed to Kitchin in writing (see letter dated 16th October, quoted above) that he had not breached confidentiality and that he would obey the standing order on confidentiality throughout the complaints procedure. Nor did it deal with the captious, loaded questions and the setting of spies on the octogenarian minister in Bexhill.


Alan Bolton was fully aware of the line in the Methodist publication Positive Working Together which the complaints  panel had allegedly consulted:

"I will not trick, pressure, manipulate, or distort the differences. I want your unpressured, clear, honest view of our differences.”

However, none of this ethical stance played a part in Alan Bolton's responses to Peter Timms' points during his conversation with Peter Hill.

Nevertheless, Alan Bolton now knew that any pre-planned “re-assessment” or “rewriting” of the false confession was not a viable strategy. Nor would he get very far with trying to blame Peter Timms for causing all the trouble.

And he also knew that Peter Timms was concerned about whether the other members of the complaints panel, ordained colleagues,  had been made aware of what Chris Kitchin had been doing.


 18th January 2017 – part two.


On this same date, a copy of the report by the complaints panel was sent to Rev Timms’ home in Bexhill. Alan Bolton had sent it to him.

As the report of the complaints panel was being issued, Val Reid spent a week of study at the Woodbrooke Study centre in Birmingham. On her return, “truth” was again on her mind.  she recounted to her fellow Methodists what she had learned from Woodbrooke:

We promised to listen to what each person had to say.  We promised to remember that we love and respect each other, even though we may have very different perspectives. We committed to paying attention to the context from which each person was speaking. And we did. We took it in turns to speak our truth. And to listen to each other’s truth.  So one of us talked about her despair. And so we recognised that truth wasn’t as simple as we might have thought.”


She followed this up with a prayer in her sermon that week:

 “Faith is not the arrogant assurance of those who imply ‘we have the truth in our possession’. For the truth is always beyond possession,

and the One who is Truth is forever working in new ways infinite in diversity.”


Val Reid had not listened to Peter Timms’ “truth”. She had not heard one word from the lips of Peter Timms during the whole four months of the complaints inquiry. The only “truth” she was aware of in the affair was the “truth” that came from the lips of Chris Kitchin.  Her faith in his reputation was the “arrogant” assurance that the panel “had the truth in their possession”. 


On May 2nd 2017 Peter Timms wrote to Val Reid. By now he was pinning his hopes on his blind belief that she was a righteous woman who would always stand up against injustice.


“This letter is to ask you if you would be kind enough to receive a synopsis of the set aside motion. If you so wished, after that l would make available to you the whole outline.”


An email of May 18th gave Val Reid’s considered response:


“ I cannot play any further part in these proceedings once the Connexional Complaints Panel has reached its conclusion.”


A disappointed Peter Timms replied in a letter dated 31st May 2017:

”I was sad to receive your email saying that you would not discuss the matter of my set aside motion with me. I know of no such rule governing this and believe that colleagues, as we are, should always be ready to talk to each other.”

Somehow, it seems that he was still hoping that Val Reid had simply been duped into signing her name to the outrageous report by the complaints panel. If he spoke to her, in confidence, she might find a way to do something and perhaps clear her conscience.

A month before this date, Hinde Street updated its entry on the website  “Findmychurch”. They described  the Methodists of Hinde Street thus:

We seek to serve God by working for justice and peace…. and desire to be known by the love we have for one another.”

For their “quote of the day” they chose John 16:33 -

“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”


These sentiments contrast sharply with the actions of Val Reid in this period. We may never know why this should be. She would not even talk to Peter Timms. She would not listen to his side of the argument.

Did this suggest that Val Reid was, herself,  a victim of the complaints system? Had she simply been deceived by Chris Kitchin about what he did in her name at the beginning of the Timms inquiry?


It is hard to believe that such a strong-minded woman, dedicated to justice, would abandon her strong ethical beliefs about truth and justice in an act of brazen expediency. The only possible alternative is that she was in some way duped, or that she had made a terrible mistake in the hustle and bustle of her busy life.


Whatever happened, there appears to have been little effect on her general views on truth and justice – nor on fellowship. Mistakes, however, now seem to have been on her mind. In her sermon on public scrutiny on June 30th last year, she admitted:


“We make mistakes. We get it wrong. We sometimes behave selfishly.

Is this the truth about her role in the Timms case?


This followed a sermon in March 2019 entitledSorry seems to be the hardest word”   - in which she said:


“Admitting a mistake feels impossible in our culture of self-righteousness”.


Honesty appears to be another preoccupation. In 2019 she gave a memorable sermon entitled “Remember you are dust” in which she prayed for:


“God’s judgement which enables us to be honest, to look with open minds and hearts at why we do what we do, and say what we say.”


However, if her words can indeed help us in any way to get to her true thoughts  on the Timms case, we should consider her most memorable sermon of that year. She gave it at Hinde Street on February 3rd 2019 – two years and one month after she had signed off the report of the complaints panel which sentenced Peter Timms to ignominy in his last days. It was entitled “In Praise of Hypocrisy” and began with the words:


“ I want to speak in praise of hypocrisy. Not because it is the tribute vice pays to virtue, as La Rochefoucauld cynically suggested, but because taking the risk of being a hypocrite means that we have at least engaged with some of the serious issues which should challenge us as people of faith, people with a commitment to ethical practice.”


Was the case of Peter Timms one of the “serious issues” she had in mind? Or does the risk of being a hypocrite lie in "challenges to people of commitment to ethical practice" which emerged during the Timms inquiry?  Or does the hypocrisy lie in the actions and words of another person?   Are these perhaps the words of a woman deceived by a supposedly reliable older man into accepting his justification for his own arrogant and unjust actions?

Are these the words of a good woman trapped by the hypocritical rationale - that everything done to Peter Timms was ‘perfectly in accordance’ with Standing Orders?


Or do Val Reid’s actions during the Timms affair simply reflect the fact that she  could not take another dose of severe criticism such as Hinde Street received after  the Israel-Palestine exhibition controversies?


It seems that Peter Timms may not be alone in suffering from injustice within the Church. Rev Val Reid may also be suffering a serious injustice. To quote the sermon she gave during the weeks when Chris Kitchin was insisting that the false confession must be accepted:


“We are each confronted by different injustices in different ways. We shouldn’t feel we need to apologise for that. Because all injustice must stop.”


Indeed - all injustice must stop.   It is a barrier to a new heaven and a new earth full of God’s love.


Peter Hill

This article is written in accordance with Standing Order 1100 of the Methodist Church.














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