Sheffield Cathedral could face a legal challenge over its “reckless” decision to disband a 400-year-old choir.
Former choristers and campaigners are seeking independent legal advice regarding the Dean and Chapter’s recent decision to close the choir.
Last week, the historic cathedral announced that it would disband its much-loved choir because it fails to meet the needs of a “mixed urban community” and should be more diverse.
Following the controversial announcement, it later emerged that Sheffield Cathedral is being investigated over bullying allegations after chorister parents expressed concerns regarding staff behaviour.
Peter Bradley, the cathedral’s Dean, has now ordered an external inquiry.
Campaigners have united under the group, Save Sheffield Cathedral Choir, and have described the Dean and Chapter’s decision to close the choir as “reckless, short-sighted and opportunistic”.
Last night the campaign group released a statement saying: “We are considering a legal challenge to the decision on the basis of unfair dismissal on three grounds: lack of clear reasons given; spurious claims around diversity and inclusion; and the cynical timing of their announcement, without sufficiently notifying employees, during the choir holidays, and in the middle of a global pandemic”.
In addition, the campaign group made up of former members of the Choir added that: “past correspondence has come to light which calls into question the legitimacy of the Dean and Chapter's decision-making process and looks likely to give rise to a legal challenge”.
Nick Cox, a former member of the Choir added: “Between 2007-2018 musicians at the Cathedral ran a very successful city-wide outreach program for young singers, engaging with thousands of school children across scores of Sheffield primary schools.
“These included children of different faiths and no faith, mixed heritage, different disabilities, and socioeconomic disadvantage. This program was also highly collaborative with, and highly regarded by, other educational organisations across the city, and fed into the Cathedral Choir. It is our view that this program was left to die by Dean and Chapter”.
A petition calling for the Dean and Chapter to reconsider their decision gaining over 4,000 signatures in its first four days online
A spokeswoman for the Cathedral was contacted for comment.