This article details the remarkable unusual lengths to which Peter Timms went - in a vain effort  to
find peace and justice in the Methodist Church. He tried to bridge the great divide that has grown inside the Methodist Church  - and he failed.



It is easy to characterise the Timms affair as a fight between an obdurate old minister and  a connexional complaints panel which merely applied the standing orders to a complaint.  That is what Methodist Church House would have us believe about the Timms case. It is not true. The truth of the Timms case is quite different to this.

The Timms case illustrates a  great divide which now separates the mass of Methodist worshippers from a "chosen few". Those who write the rules do not obey them. It is one rule for the masses who support the Methodist Church - it is another rule for the "chosen few".

It should not be so. The Church's own general principles, covering the whole of the standing orders of the Methodist Church,  make it clear that reconciliation between parties in a dispute is the general will of the Church at all times. That has been forgotten.

 Standing Order 1100(2) states that : 

The Church seeks to enable healing and reconciliation to take place through that accountability whenever possible.”  

Clause (3) of the same guiding principle states: 

“The complaints and discipline process therefore seeks to embody the following principles…. the possibility of reconciliation should be explored carefully in every case in which that is appropriate." 

In the Timms case, this is a principle observed more in its breach than in its implementation. Peter Timms was refused any form of reconciliation during his dispute with the connexional complaints panel.

When  a certain "chosen few" senior members  make mistakes on behalf of the Church, the executives in Methodist Church House  do not wish to discuss those mistakes, no matter the harm they cause by failing in their responsibilities.  They "deflect" by raising spurious arguments. They would rather cast out a good man with an excellent record of worship and good works, than admit that a mistake has been made by a member of their "chosen few".

The rules are broken, but the Church will not even discuss it - and so it  ignores its guiding principles on reconciliation.

This is an appalling situation for a major Church to find itself in.

You find this hard to believe? Read on and have your eyes opened.

The case of Peter Timms demonstrates the depths to which some persons in Methodist Church House will stoop to shore up the supposed reputation of the Methodist Church in the innocent eyes of the British public. Peter Timms was removed from the ministry because he refused to keep quiet about major breaches of standing orders, bullying and harassment. 



From 2014 to the present day, Peter Timms has attempted to be reconciled with those members of the "the chosen few" who have been breaching standing orders. He did so  at every step of the affair. Reconciliation was always refused him. The divide opened up before him.

It is a divide that he cannot bridge, no matter how hard he has tried.

In the end Peter Timms resorted to desperate measures because he could not beat the crooked system. Readers may be astonished at the desperate measures that were taken - on both sides.




The first instance of this refusal to hold reconciliation talks was in the first phase of the case - the complaints that Peter Timms raised about favouritism in the Bexhill circuit.

When the local complaints officer, Rev David Chapman,  wrote to the Acting District Chair, Rev Dr Philip Luscombe, concerning  Timms' complaint about favouritism, the answer from Luscombe about discussion was short and brusque:

I consider a meeting with the complainant would not achieve a local resolution and would merely delay the final outcome of the complaint.”

When Peter Timms complained to the Assistant District Chair, Rev Rose Westwood, about the manner in which she had intervened to silence him at the local Circuit meeting, her response was:

"“I have yet to be convinced that a meeting with Revd Peter Timms would be productive at such a late stage.”

Rev Ian Pruden, whose stationing as Superintendent  had been the cause of all the complaints about favouritism, also refused to meet with Peter Timms.

When Rev David Chapman eventually wrote his report about the dispute to the Connexional complaints office, he devoted half of it to this aspect of the case.  It seems that he wished the head of the complaints office, Rev Alan Bolton, to be fully aware of the refusal by the three respondents to meet with the complainant in reconciliation.



Rev Alan Bolton then set up a connexional complaints panel to consider the complaint about favouritism. Peter Timms immediately encountered the same problem again - in a most surprising way.

When the Connexional complaints panel began its work, it immediately breached standing orders. What they did  brought the whole complaints investigation into chaos. They demanded that Peter Timms should  sign a self-incriminating document.

Apparently, there had been an accusation against him of breach of confidence - and, according to this document sent to him,  he had been found guilty. The connexional panel  threatened him with non-cooperation if he refused to sign an acceptance of his guilt.

It was an outrageous breach of Standing Orders - and it brought everything to a stop.

There could be no progress with the complaint about favouritism in Bexhill until this new matter of the false confession was settled. Timms  had to begin a second quest for reconciliation talks. This time, he tried to discuss the principle of the false confession with the complaints panel. It seemed to him that such a false confession  was completely in breach of the standing orders.

He was now involved in two distinct areas of reconciliation. The first was with the local ministers about  whose conduct he had complained. The second was with the Connexional complaints panel in London which had acted so rashly.

Throughout their so-called "investigation", the Connexional complaints panel continued to refuse him certain documents and information;  they demanded that he first must sign the confession. That made matters worse. He could not present his case adequately. It was all a mess.

Peter Timms never signed the false confession. It had come to him “out of the blue”- with no indication of what evidence might support it. It did not state who had made the accusation. It was nothing to do with his complaints about favouritism. The panel had found him guilty without  even asking him for his defence against the charge. It was all contrary to standing orders, so Timms  was confident that the head of the complaints section, Rev. Alan Bolton,  would intervene.

It was a vain hope. Alan Bolton told him he had no power to intervene.

Details and analysis of this important yet shameful document can be found elsewhere on this website.



The connexional panel's so-called "investigation" concluded in December 2016. By mid- 2017, Peter Timms had nowhere to go to find justice or reconciliation inside the Methodist Church procedures. So an unusual plan emerged from the ashes of the reconciliation process.

The plan was a highly unusual attempt to find a peaceful solution to the matter of the false confession. It was based in part on a report entitled "Positive Working Together" that  had been published by the Methodist Church. It  encouraged people to reflect on the importance of the way in which they engage and interact with one another within the life of the Church. This report stated:

“Sometimes it is helpful to  acknowledge personal change, often after much hard work has been done. This may help us in situations of potential reconciliation, forgiveness or being able to let go of pain or hurt.”

Peter Timms took this to heart. He is  a true Methodist, and therefore  a forgiving man. He thought that the complaints panel had clearly made a bad error in sending the false confession, but such an error could be forgiven. He thought that someone had mis-led Rev Alan Bolton - and his superior who backed him, Secretary to Conference Rev Gareth Powell;  but they could both be forgiven. After all, that is the Methodist Way.

But, given their adamant refusal to talk,  how could he change their attitude to the injustices that had been heaped upon their lowly minister?

Peter Timms also realised that Rev Gareth Powell and the members of the complaints panel were all proud people.  They had high reputations within the Church. Indeed, the reputation of the Church depended on such people.

In fact, as an old friend and  senior member of the Church told him, they were all members of the "chosen few". Timms was told that there  were other political forces at work which were pushing the beliefs and fears of a mere supernumerary minister into the background. He did not count in the present circumstances. It was all "politics".

One "political" case in point was that of a member of the connexional complaints panel looking into Rev Timms complaints - Rev Val Reid.

A lady of left-wing sympathies, Rev Val Reid had helped to organise an exhibition in the prestigious Hinde Street Methodist Church in central London. It was an elaborate depiction of the wall which the Israeli government was building across the West Bank. The wall hampered Palestinian workers and had become the source of a huge political argument.

The London Jewish community was furious about the Methodist Church meddling in Israeli affairs  - and supporting, in their view, the wrong side in this bitter political fight.

The resultant dispute with the Methodist Church needed high-level discussion - and Val Reid had been summoned to Methodist Church House to explain her actions.

So, in late 2016, as she began work on the Timms complaints,   Rev Val Reid was strongly defending the Methodist Church's reputation against complaints from the  Jewish community.  The strength of her arguments in that dispute and her allegiance to the Church were important to the defence of the Methodist Church.

A year later, in late 2017, Peter Timms thought that things might have changed. Looking back, he realised that, if Val Reid's public reputation had been in any way weakened in late 2016, the Methodist Church's position  in the dispute with the London Jewish community might have also been weakened. So she had had to be supported, no matter what.

Was that why she had not been criticised about the false confession? 

There may have been other such "political" considerations affecting the public reputation of the Methodist Church to take into account - matters of which a lowly supernumerary octogenarian minister in Bexhill had no knowledge.

In the end, Peter Timms realised that for him to be reconciled in a peaceful outcome,  there would need a ‘way out’ for such important figures as Rev Val Reid. Members of the "chosen few" needed an exit strategy in which they  could save face.

He concluded that he had to be prepared to suffer some further pain and hurt, even humiliation,  in any future search for reconciliation. There was hard work ahead - but,  in the interests of the Methodist Church, there had to be a change in the situation. 

The problem was – where was that change and how could he  re-start the reconciliation process?


For almost a year Peter Timms searched his voluminous files on the case. for a chance to re-open talks. Suddenly, in March 2018, an opportunity for such an approach actually occurred.

In the early part of that year the Bexhill senior Church Steward, John Troughton, had been waging his own personal campaign against Peter Timms, claiming, among other things, that he had committed criminal acts.

This campaign by Troughton had begun in early 2018,  some eighteen months after the false confession had been sent – time enough for the complaints panel to rue the day they had issued it.

The Troughton campaign is covered elsewhere on this website.   It was what Peter Timms once described as a series of "nuisance grievances". It was  designed to make him spend time in defending  himself against dozens of spurious charges - even though he was suffering from a weak heart. It was a deflection - concocted to stop him continuing to protest against the false confession.

However, the "nuisance grievance" tactic backfired on Troughton.  Unlike the more intelligent members of the "chosen few", he made the mistake of entering into reconciliation talks with Timms.

After four hours of discussion, in formal; reconciliation talks,  the two agreed on complete reconciliation before an official Methodist convenor, Rev Graham Hindle. Rev Hindle, a minister  who, as a convenor was naturally expert in the interpretation of standing orders, saw no problem with Timms' rationale for his actions. John Troughton was in agreement. The two men, Timms and Troughton, shook hands on the agreement.

It was a bombshell in the case.


March 2018 - THE RETRACTION.

It was the reconciliation paper that Troughton agreed to which provided  the kind of  "change" that "Positive Thinking" had mentioned. It showed that John Troughton had changed his mind about Peter Timms' email in 2016 thathad caused the false confession to be sent.

With this change of mind, the evidence behind the false confession no longer existed.

Troughton dropped all the allegations of criminal activity; he had plucked them out of thin air  as an irritant.  But in particular, having heard Peter Timms' version of events, he also agreed that Peter Timms’ rationale for his action in 2016, which had prompted the false confession being sent,  was  completely within Standing Orders. Timms had not breached confidence.

However, when this news reached some of the "chosen few", Troughton was told to change his mind.

So, a month later, in April 2018, Troughton refused to sign the document of agreement which Rev Hindle had had typed up and on which he had shaken hands.

Whether such an action  was allowed in the standing orders or not, he did not care. A Chief Circuit Steward, a man supposedly of impeccable honour and integrity,  Troughton simply withdrew himself from the reconciliation process - claiming (incorrectly) that Timms had not kept to one of his promises at the meeting.

He thought that he had got away with destroying the effect of the whole of the reconciliation process. However, he failed to go into detail about his retraction. 

Peter Timms considered the remains of Troughton's destruction of the reconciliation process and noticed that Troughton had  only complained about one paragraph in the agreement that the convenor had typed up. Troughton had not retracted his agreement to other parts of it.

Significantly, Troughton  did not retract his whole-hearted agreement that Peter Timms had acted correctly in sending the email to him in 2016 - the email that had mis-led the Connexional complaints panel into issuing the false confession.

The two men had gone into the Timms' rationale for his actions in 2016 in great detail. Troughton had finally "seen the light" when he had considered the relevant standing orders. No matter how hard he now tried, he could not turn out that light now - even though he objected to another part of the discussion.

The rationale still stood. And it was important new evidence.



Some months later in 2018, Peter Timms was reviewing the situation.

Initially shocked by Troughton despicable actions, he now realised that the significant point  was that it was unclear whether the complaints team had seen the rationale for Timms’ action in sending the email  in 2016. After all, the rationale which he had presented to Troughton at the reconciliation talks had actually been written in late 2016 - some eighteen months earlier.

Troughton had agreed in the reconciliation talks that the rationale was sound - would the Connexional panel now agree with him?

At the same time, Timms also realised that the Connexional complaints panel had probably not heard about Troughton's change of evidence.

This was possibly the new situation that Peter Timms needed  to approach members of the complaints team for reconciliation. He reasoned that if any of them had read the rationale before they had sent the false confession to him , eighteen months before, they would not have made the mistake which has caused such a fuss. And they could be forgiven for their error. The blame lay with the heart attack.

In particular, Timms thought of Rev Val Reid. She was a bold woman who  always fought valiantly for the underdog. If she had seen his reasons for sending the email to Troughton,  she would certainly have wished to withdraw the self-incriminating document. Timms was certainly the "under-dog" in this affair - and, perhaps unlike some of the "chosen few",  Rev Val Reid would certainly be aware of the obligations of ministers and church stewards under SO 040.

Back in late 2016, alongside her work on the Connexional complaints panel,   Val Reid had been doing just that. She had been fulfilling her obligations to the Methodist Church by  bravely supporting the Methodist Church and the Gospel against the anger of the Jewish community in London. She had also stood up for the rights of Palestinians  by publicising what the Israelis were doing to them on the West Bank.



Being a diligent student of Methodism, Val Reid  might also have been aware of a popular -  and very readable - new biography of John Wesley that had been published in America two years earlier - "Crossing the Divide" by Jake Hanson. It had just reached England.

This authoritative work detailed how John Wesley had encountered, within the Church,  "ecclesiastical division, ministerial turf wars, and other such predicaments". It also detailed how Wesley had dealt with such  conflicts - so that he might spread the Gospel and establish the Methodist Church.

Jake Hanson  could have been describing the predicament that Peter Timms now faced. Rev Val Reid might have noticed the similarity.

Hanson  also wrote of John Wesley:

"He serves as a model for our generation to not only lament the difficulties and dispute, but to view the opposition as an opportunity to transform a world that is spinning out of control."

Was this incredible foresight?

Hanson's book had been published just as the world of Peter Timms had begun to spin out of control in the face of the opposition he encountered from the Methodist "chosen few".

Just as Hansson had written, Timms had encountered incredible difficulties in the dispute with the Church. He was not consoled by the fact that his case was becoming a model for everything that had gone wrong with the Church -  a cause, in his view, for all to lament.

Just as Hanson described what Wesley had done, Timms was now trying to "Cross the Divide" - the divide between his view of Methodism and that of the "chosen few" - those senior members who, perhaps,  saw mission as being greater than fellowship.





Hill and Timms discussed several possible approaches in the light of John Troughton's change of mind in March 2018.

They agreed that it was no use approaching Methodist Church House. The chief legal expert, Louise Wilkins, had refused to read any more about the case. Letters from Peter Timms were being placed in a file, unopened. Rev Gareth Powell was backing her in this decision.

Rev Gareth Powell, it seemed,  would certainly not hold a meeting about the subject. He had apparently washed his hands of the whole affair. He left it to the South East District Chair Rev John Hellyer. Rev Hellyer had been even more aggressive in his approach to Timms than Rev  Powell.

Rev Alan Bolton, the Head of the Complaints Department  had said he could not intervene, even though he knew that the panel's demands were not in accordance with standing orders. His successor, Donna Ely, continued the policy of not discussing anything with Peter Timms.

Church House was simply not listening any more.

This left only one feasible way forward - to approach the original source of the controversy,  the members of the connexional complaints team.

Indeed, Rev Gareth Powell might listen if he were approached by the members of the complaints team for reconciliation talks about the self-incriminating document.

The  first step towards peace in the affair was therefore to have a private chat with at least one member of the complaints team. The panel  could then discuss the situation and  they should suggest that the case be re-opened, not Timms. That was the less combative approach. Let it all be their idea.



As for the choice of which panel member to approach, Peter Timms initially thought that the two ministers on the complaints panel might be most approachable.

Rev Chris Jones was the first choice. He had been an ordained minister for some two decades and was  extremely experienced. He would be listened to in Methodist Church House. Now a supernumerary minister, he had recently been stationed in Salisbury. As far as Timms could see, Chris Jones was not one of "the chosen few".

However,  Timms had written to Rev Jones  on May 31st 2017  begging for reconciliation:

"I now offer you reconciliation over it. I will come to Salisbury for this if you require it, though I would prefer somewhere neutral for the meeting.  Perhaps you might choose a venue. I turn to reconciliation and urge it on you because it is the Methodist way. I hope that you will agree with me.

I beg you not to turn this offer of reconciliation down,"

Rev Chris Jones had turned him down flat. He had even added that any further approach to him might be considered as harassment. That made any second approach impossible.

The other minister under consideration was Rev Val Reid. Less experienced, she was Timms' favourite choice.  She was, of course, "political".  Furthermore, the Israeli - Palestinian dispute, that had rocked the Church,  might make this choice a little more problematic. After all, Val Reid might still be smarting from some of the criticism.

However, there was a further problem. A year after the arguments about the Hinde Street exhibition,  in May 2017,  Timms, as a matter of courtesy,  had sent Val Reid  a copy of his set-aside motions concerning the self-incriminating document -  the false confession.

Unfortunately, on this occasion, Val Reid had not supported the underdog. She had replied abruptly:

"I cannot play any further part in these proceedings once the Connexional Complaints Panel has reached its conclusion. It was not appropriate for you to send this material to me before receiving a response to your letter of 2nd May.

So again, the ministers involved had turned down reconciliation.

This left the only other possibility -  Mr. Chris Kitchin, the leader of the complaints panel.

A lay person, Mr. Kitchin might not feel himself as rigidly bound by the rules on confidentiality as did the two ordained ministers. He might be approached in private for tentative discussion. Further, being a magistrate, Mr. Kitchin  would be accustomed to taking part in such private conversations about cases - and keeping the confidentiality of them, in the interests of justice.

Significantly too, Chris Kitchin had never flatly refused to discuss the matter with Peter Timms. His replies to letters had generally been couched in friendly and courteous terms, no matter the content.

In the end, it seemed that perhaps Mr Kitchin was the best choice. Indeed, if the plan were to proceed, it seemed that he was the only choice.



The plan to approach a member of the connexional panel needed to satisfy the requirements of Timms' second qualification of the plan. 

Whatever was done, he thought,  those persons who had made the original mistake must   be allowed to save face. The outcome of the plan must not be a humiliation, or a ‘defeat’  for them. Whoever was approached must be assured of that. That was the Methodist Way.

Further, this applied to the Methodist Church itself. If at all possible, the reputation of the Methodist Church should not suffer.

Hill and Timms discussed the kind of approach to Chris Kitchin which might allow the connexional complaints team to save face.

It was not easy - after all, had the panel  not acted very rashly in 2016 in trying to coerce Peter Timms into signing the self-incriminating document? That kind of bullying was certainly not in line with standing orders.

Then,  they had also treated Timms as a respondent. They had actually written this astonishing news to him in the first line of the "false confession".  It was a gross error, for in fact, according to their brief,  he was the complainant.  To treat him as a respondent had been a blatant mis-use  of the power granted to a  connexional complaints panel.

However, after due consideration, Timms decided that he himself  had to "take the blame". The problems had to be seen as being all the fault of Timms himself.

Looking at the chronology of the case, it occurred to him that mistakes by the panel  might perhaps be attributed to the confusion caused by the heart problems he had suffered during those desperate days of late  2016, when the inquiry had taken place.

Certainly, Timms thought, this  would avoid any suggestion that Rev Val Reid had been somewhat negligent, when she had had her mind on other more controversial matters.

The main point was that the mistake of issuing the self-incriminating document could not be seen as being the fault of members of  the complaints team.

They had to be offered an exit strategy, a means of "saving face".



The general parameters of the plan were finalised.

Timms would detail the period when he was taken into hospital  with heart problems. It had been at a crucial point in the connexional panel's investigations. The consequence of this had been a confusing period in the affair. Timms had been heavily sedated. In London, Peter Hill was acting as his secretary, taking dictation on the phone, typing up letters and position papers. The confusion had caused mistakes to occur.

And then suddenly, Peter Timms' problems with his heart intervened yet again. His pacemaker, fitted in mid-2017, was still not performing correctly. He felt unable to make the trip from Bexhill to Bedfordshire in order to visit the leader of the connexional panel.

It was decided that Hill should make the approach to the leader of the complaints panel instead of Peter Timms. As a former producer  on the BBC's "Panorama" programme, Hill naturally prepared meticulously for the visit.



With Hill going to Bedfordshire instead of Timms, the content of the approach had to be carefully worked out in advance. Hill could not "do a deal" as Timms might have; he could only report back to Timms.

It  was agreed that when Hill met Mr. Kitchin, he  should say that he believed that the connexional panel may not have received certain important documentation. He should point to the confusion caused by Peter Timms having been taken into hospital during the panel's investigation. He should emphasise that the connexional panel had, possibly,  not received Timms' rationale - his defence against the Troughton email. 

The significance point, Hill should say, was that the accusation by the panel in the false confession might not have been actually answered by Peter Timms. Troughton's reversal of opinion  had now emphasised this. All was now changed.

Above all, Hill should say that it had all been a ‘terrible mistake’, due to unforeseeable circumstances - the confusion caused by Timms being ill..

Hill was to stress that Peter Timms accepted that if the panel members  had seen the "defence" , or rationale, in the position paper, they  would most certainly have agreed with Timms’ rationale - as Troughton had done some eighteen months later.

The whole matter could then have been quietly dropped. Even now, in March 2018, Hill was to say, this could still be done. No one on the panel had yet been made aware that John Troughton had now agreed with Timms' rationale. It would be perfectly reasonable to look at things afresh. The charge that  Troughton had made in 2016 no longer stood and could be ignored or withdrawn.

So it was decided. The opening towards a bridge over the divide was to be caused by unavoidable confusion. In that confusion, Timms had made the  mistake of not sending the rationale to the panel.

During the meeting, Hill was to offer a copy of Troughton's retraction to Mr. Kitchin, in the hope that he might use this as an excuse to contact the other members of the panel - or Methodist Church House - with his doubts,  and somehow persuade them to reconsider the case.





Hill drove to St Albans and met with Mr Kitchin. He took the documents in question and left  them with him at the end of the meeting.

Approaching a connexional panel member in this fashion is highly unusual. It might have earned Peter Timms a reprimand from Methodist Church House. However, the reaction by the Methodist Church to Hill's visit to the panel leader was surprisingly dramatic. They threatened him with prison.

When the Connexional panel members reported the detail of the meeting to Methodist Church House, a complaint was made to the police that the visit constituted criminal harassment.

The Church executives  did not realise that Hill had been offering them an olive branch of ‘peace with honour’. All they saw was that a member of the "chosen few" had been approached and criticised.

The sharp contrast between the differing interpretations of this visit illustrates the extent of the existence of the divide within the Methodist Church.

Lies were told by one side or the other. It is for the reader to determine  who lied  - and to then speculate as to why such lies were told.



Methodist Church House hired expensive lawyers, Farrers in Lincoln's Inn, who are used by the Queen. They told the police that Hill's  visit was  highly inappropriate. He had left the leader of their connexional complaints panel feeling harassed and intimidated

They pointed out that Hill had been uninvited; he had attended the private property of a connexional panel member for the sole purpose of criticising the Church.



This was a different view of the visit that  Hill regarded friendly and peaceful - accccccccccccnd an attempt to begin reconciliation. The Methodist Church thought it was criminal harassment.

Hill was surprised. He had criticised the Methodist Church? In fact Peter Timms was taking all the blame for the Church's mistake!

He had made a good note of the meeting. There had been no hint of harassment at the time. He had been invited into the home of the panel member and shown into a small study. There, as planned,  Hill had recounted the story of Troughton’s change of mind and the position paper, with the rationale,  that Timms had drawn up. 

As for whether the connexional panel had ever seen Peter Timms’ position paper, the rationale about the email in 2016, Hill said that he himself had no record of sending it. He thought that Timms had possibly sent it to Church House, perhaps as an email. But, he added, Timms may not even have sent it. He had been very ill. Somehow it seemed that the communication had got lost. Everything had been in confusion at that time.

The main point, said Hill, was that he did not think that any Church executive had ever seen the position paper with the rationale behind the email.   He thought that if any member of the complaints team, particularly Mr. Kitchin,  had seen it, it would probably have been accepted it as a defence against the charge of breach of confidence – just as Troughton accepted it some eighteen months later.  

At the very least,  in the balance of probabilities,  it  would have tipped the balance in Timms’ favour on that issue. And, as a magistrate, Mr. Kitchin knew all about that.

That the panel did not receive a copy of this position paper could therefore be assigned to some email problem – a common fault in communications.  Peter Timms  had been very ill at that time, he wasn’t always thinking straight. It was all a mistake.

Hill concluded by saying that he had come to tell the panel, through Mr. Kitchin, about this - and to see if they might find some way to produce a peaceful end to the matter. After all, he repeated, it had all been a mistake.



Mr. Kitchin expressed interest. He asked what Hill was suggesting.

Hill replied that he wondered if this new information  would allow the panel to, in some way, modify the judgement. They had not seen the position paper with Timms' rationale. If they  had seen it in 2016, during the panel's hearings,  they would have changed the thrust of their  report.

There was a lull in the conversation as Kitchin thought it over. Hill  filled in the time by saying that, as he remembered it, the position paper that Timms had presented to Troughton had mentioned Standing Order 040, which was entitled “Failure to fulfil obligations”.

He spoke generally about the cause of the arguments at the Bexhill circuit meeting in 2014, which had led up to Timms complaining about favouritism. He said that two years after that dispute, in 2016, Timms had not wanted a repeat of what had happened in that earlier meeting. That was why he had sent the email to John Troughton, the secretary of the invitation committee. It had been  an attempt to avoid more trouble.

Timms had wanted the decision of the 2016 invitation committee  to be made  impartially. And that involved SO 040.

As an experienced senior minister, Timms had thought he had better alert John Troughton to the responsibilities of the secretary to the invitation committee concerning impartiality.



At this point,  Mr Kitchin stopped Hill’s explanations. He said simply that he had led an investigation, he had done a report, Peter Timms had a copy of it.  There had been outcomes from the  report. That, Kitchin said, was the  end to his  responsibility. He had  no power to re-open the work that he did.

He thought that, if there was new information which hadn’t been available at the time,  which meant that the conclusion might have been different, he could not  debate that issue. He had no power.

He added that, if anyone thought that there was  some sort of misjustice,  then the right thing to do was to write to Gareth Powell (Secretary to Conference) with the evidence.

He thought that there was no scope for trying to work out an agreement - because there was no place for it in the system.

He made no commitment to informing the other two members of his connexional complaints panel,. nor did he mention that he would report Hill's visit to Methodist Church House.

He played, as a cricketer might say, " a straight bat". He had failed to discern the true peaceful intent of the approach.



Hill tried to give Chris Kitchin some more time to think things through. He quickly began going through the story again, how there had been confusion and the complaints panel   may not have seen the important position paper containing  Timms' rationale.

However, Mr. Kitchin rose and went towards the door. Hill followed him. The meeting was over.

Hill had meant to raise the question of reconciliation and how it might affect the outcome, but he did not get the chance. He had driven to Bedfordshire and spent twenty five minutes with Mr. Kitchin. It had achieved nothing. The peace offer had been spurned.

The elaborate plan that Hill and Timms had put together, so that the members of the complaints panel could save face, had ended in disaster. The attempt to "cross the divide" had failed.

Or had it?




Some six months after the abortive trip to Bedfordshire, Peter Timms was summoned to a meeting in Methodist Church House. It was a meeting arranged by some senior members of the Church with Rev Gareth Powell the Secretary to Conference. It was supposed to resolve the whole issue.

However, two days before this meeting, Peter Timms was informed that the self-incriminating document was not on the agenda.

The chief executive of the Methodist Church, Rev Gareth Powell,  simply refused to discuss this major breach of standing orders.

At this meeting, Peter Timms was harangued for three hours. He was told that he had to accept the report by the Connexional complaints panel. He had to accept that his approaches to the panel had been manipulative and harassing. He had questioned the time limits they had imposed. He had challenged the Connexional team on a variety of issues. He had refused to answer certain questions and he had disputed the meaning of certain standing orders. Above all, he had attempted to dictate what the connexional team should do.  He had bullied them. 

There was no mention of the false confession that Peter Timms had been told to sign. In fact, Gareth Powell's demands implicitly included the demand that he should accept it.  Nor was there an explanation of the information that the connexional panel had obtained from spies in Bexhill.

There was no mention of the bullying that Peter Timms had himself  suffered from various members of the "chosen few".

The Secretary to Conference, Rev Gareth Powell  completely failed to recognise that Peter Timms' attempts to be reconciled with the Connexional complaints panel about the self-incriminating document, and the coercion which accompanied it, was quite separate to the original complaints he had made about the activities of local ministers.


The "chosen few" wanted an abject apology.


Was Rev Gareth Powell really so blind? Or was it that he did not wish to see or hear that the complaints panel had made such a bad mistake?  Or, the terrible thought occurred, was he himself subservient to the powerful members of the "chosen few"? (It is a fact that he left that job soon after this meeting.)

Perhaps there were other reasons. Perhaps he was also influenced by the fact that one member of this particular connexional panel,  Rev Val Reid,  had already got the Methodist Church into hot water. The complaints panel's discussions about Peter Timms were, arguably,  somewhat disrupted by this "political" affair -  and perhaps Rev Val Reid had not been able to give the due consideration to the Timms case that was necessary.

For whatever reason, at the meeting in Methodist Church House, Rev Gareth came down heavily against Peter Timms.

Timms was devastated by the divide that had opened up between himself and his Church - in the person of its Secretary, Rev Gareth Powell.  He had hoped to be reconciled with the members of the complaints panel at this meeting. That hope was now dashed.

It was clear to many senior members of the Church  that the Connexional panel had made a  simple error by sending the false confession.  This error was not being corrected. The connexional panel had actually thought that Timms was the respondent, not the complainant. The self-incriminating document had actually said that. It was the very first line of the document. Another simple error had not been corrected.

Above all, neither Rev Gareth Powell, nor the members of the complaints team, appeared to understand that they were acting in defiance of one of the central ethical positions of the Church - that  it  "seeks to enable healing and reconciliation to take place whenever possible.”  

Timms left the meeting literally in tears. He was deeply confused, but he now saw the stark truth. His Church was divided - with the "chosen few" protected against the lowly likes of him.

Reconciliation could not heal the divide.

It was not as if Timms had not collected documentary evidence to support his case at the meeting.   The Connexional complaints team had written to him on October 15th 2016, saying, deceptively:

"The complaints team is required to consider the prospect of reconciliation but this comes at the end of our investigation, not before it."

Timms had noted that at no point after the end of their investigation had the complaints team considered the prospect of reconciliation.

They had denied their own words.

In any case, how could reconciliation about the very first action of the connexional panel's investigation  only be considered at the end of it? The very basis of the investigation had been under-mined.

The standing order that the connexional panel relied upon might have applied to the original complaints against the three ministers in Bexhill about favouritism. But it could not possibly apply to the matter of the false confession.

The false confession was a separate issue which Rev Gareth Powell had refused to allow Timms to mention. It concerned the conduct of members of "the chosen few" - the Connexional complaints panel. It had nothing to do with favouritism by three ministers in Bexhill about which Timms had complained originally.

But after the meeting with Gareth Powell, it had everything to do with favouritism in Methodist Church House.

The Connexional panel had made it plain in the false confession that they were treating Timms as a "respondent" - not as a complainant. 

It was a gross error. How could they possibly defend that? How could Gareth Powell possibly ignore it? Indeed - how dare he criticise Peter Timms in such circumstances?

The excuse clearly demonstrated the overweening arrogance and power of the "chosen few".



28th June 2020

Some six months after the abortive meeting in Methodist Church House, there was a further move by the executives there. They attempted to have this website taken down and have its webmaster, Peter Hill, imprisoned.

They briefed their solicitors to report Hill to the Hertfordshire police in Hatfield for criminal harassment.  

Hatfield police was a convenient choice, for Mr. Kitchin knew the officers there well. As a serving magistrate, his court was located in Hatfield -  in the same building as the police headquarters.  Moreover, he had served for four years on the Police Authority there and consequently knew the Chief Constable.

In addition to this, his friend Graham Danbury, a senior member of the Law and Polity Committee in Methodist Church House,  was the deputy coroner in Hertfordshire.

Hill was summoned to Hatfield and interviewed under caution for some ninety minutes. The police told him that the charge could lead to six months in prison.  However, after the interview, the police dropped all the charges - on the condition that Hill should never make another such approach to Mr. Kitchin.

It was a sad ending to the peace plan.

In the summer of 2021 Rev Peter Timms was expelled from the ministry of the Methodist Church.



One of the guiding principles of the Methodist Church’s Standing Orders is SO 1100(3) (vii). It states:

there should be a means of correcting any errors which may be made”

Peter Timms went to extraordinary, one might say ingenious and unprecedented,  lengths to try to correct the error of the false confession which  was sent to him by the Connexional complaints panel of Rev Jones, Rev Reid and Mr Kitchin.  Against the stone faces of executives,  such as Rev Gareth Powell,  in Methodist Church House, his carefully thought-out peace plan failed.

This  attempt to find reconciliation demonstrates yet again that the Standing Orders count for nothing in the Methodist Church - when it comes to protecting their own.

Some in Methodist Church House may have criticised Rev Val Reid when she  raised the hackles of the Jewish community in London with her left-wing views about the Palestinians being the victims of Israeli territorial expansion. Those same people who had opposed Rev Donald Soper in the seventies might have criticised her for using her position in the Methodist Church to influence politics in the Middle East.

However, the Methodist Church was not ready to say anything against Val Reid  when she conspired to breach standing orders by agreeing with her fellow  complaints panel members to send a false confession to an aged octogenarian minister who was suffering from heart problems.

Clearly, it is also acceptable to Church House that  Connexional complaints panel members may spend some two months threatening sanctions - if the venerable target of their misdeeds will not sign such a heinous document. All such immoral acts are, apparently sanctioned by  the Methodist Church.

The Timms case provides a measure of the sense of justice, openness and honesty in Methodist Church House today. It has a low score: the balance of justice is skewed by favouritism.

There is one rule for the "chosen few" - there is another rule for those other devout Methodists elsewhere in the country. The divide they have created between the Church executives and the ordinary members of the Church cannot be bridged.

One may only wonder what John Wesley would say.