A ‘bully’ vicar insulted dead people at their own funerals, offered churchgoers naked massages, punched people who left his four hour sermons and threw traffic cones at police officers, a shocking report has found.
Church of England vicar Rev Michael Hall also locked people in cupboards until they ‘turned into Christ’ and persuaded his congregation that he had access to a ‘hotline to God’.
Hall, who served at St Margaret’s, Tylers Green in Buckinghamshire from 1981 to 2000, has been described as an ‘incessant bully’ and his behaviour was reported several times to church authorities.
The investigation into Hall first started after a man took his own life in 2020. Before he died he had told another priest that he was unable to ‘move on from the trauma caused by Reverend Hall’, the Times reports.
On learning of the death, the vicar currently at the church raised serious concerns with the diocesan safeguarding team about Hall.
Church of England vicar Rev Michael Hall has been described as an ‘incessant bully’ and his behaviour was reported several times to church authorities
While the investigation was ongoing, Hall died age 88.
The report released yesterday by the diocese of Oxford has now called for an wider education into the signs of spiritual abuse.
It stated: ‘The investigation by the Diocese of Oxford concluded that on the balance of probabilities that Revd Hall had spiritually abused a significant number of the congregation, and that he had engaged in sexual inappropriate behaviour with members of the congregation, which was witnessed by children and young people.
‘He was described as a bully and used methods including coercion and control, manipulation and pressuring of individuals, through the misuse of religious texts and scripture and providing a ‘divine’ rationale for behaviour.
‘There are several reports of Reverend Hall being physically aggressive towards others. He threw ”no parking” cones at a police officer, he punched a member of the congregation in the arm to prevent him from leaving a service, and there are reports of Reverend Hall hitting two people on separate occasions.’
The report went into detail on how young people saw Hall and other members of the congregation together completely naked, and they were touching one another.
Some interviewees even claimed that when they were children Hall had pinched their bottoms.
As a result of Hall’s behaviour, victims described themselves as severely impacted. the report stated: ‘The victims/survivors of Reverend Hall’s ministry described his effect on them variously as engendering feelings of worthlessness, self-doubt, low self esteem, self-blame and a fear of making mistakes.
‘This led them to struggle to recover from mistakes, to be unable to make decisions and to be unable to have opinions other than those generated by Reverend Hall.
‘They experienced depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, mental breakdown, pychosis and suicidal ideation and, self-harmed and made suicide attempts. For some people these feelings and health conditions have continued long after Reverend Hall retired.’
Hall served at St Margaret’s, Tylers Green in Buckinghamshire from 1981 to 2000
Despite thirteen letters of complaint sent to senior church leaders in the diocese, the review claimed that some churchwardens ‘endorsed and supported’ his behaviour.
It said: ‘There was no record of any investigation or action being taken in response to these serious and disturbing allegations.’
On Hall’s behaviour, Lord Harries, former Bishop of Oxford from 1987 to 2006, said: ‘In all this period there were three factors which made it impossible to lance the boil of this terrible situation.
First, there were to my knowledge no official complaints. People might whisper and speak anonymously, but they were too intimidated to go public.
Secondly, and linked with that, Hall made it clear he would institute proceedings against anyone he thought slandered or libelled him. Together with this was the simmering violence that people sometimes sensed in his personality, which must have been frightening.
Thirdly, he always managed to have a majority of the PCC on his side, no doubt recruiting more supporters as and when previous ones were alienated.’
Reverend Hall was born in 1932, and later deaconed in June 1969. He served at St Margaret Aspley in Nottingham until 1973 and then became incumbent of St John the Divine in Bulwell, also in Nottingham. He moved to High Wycombe in 1981.