THINKING ANGLICANS

Matthew Ineson responds to statement from NST

Updated Friday afternoon

We published late Wednesday evening a statement from the Church of England’s National Safeguarding Team regarding Matthew Ineson.

Matthew Ineson has now issued a response:

Call for the Resignation of Archbishop John Sentamu and Bishop Steven Croft

It is confirmed by the National Safeguarding Team of the Church of England that in 2013 Archbishop John Sentamu received, and replied to, a letter from me to him disclosing sexual abuse by a priest I had suffered as a youngster. An internal memo which has been acquired via a data protection act request by me and is dated 25th July 2016 confirms this and clearly states ‘I have also a copy of the Archbishop of York’s letter to Ineson, dated 2nd July 2013, which acknowledges that he had read a letter written to Steven Croft, copied to the Archbishop of York, which repeated the disclosure of an alleged criminal offence.’

The letter I sent to John Sentamu was a copy of a letter I had sent to Bishop Steven Croft, dated 1st June 2013, which not only contained details of my sexual abuse, but also complained bitterly of the failure to act on my disclosures by Bishop Steven Croft and Bishop Peter Burrows. By this time Steven Croft had ignored three disclosures from me, two by telephone and this letter of 1st June.

John Sentamu replied saying he had read the letter and assured me of his prayers and best wishes through this testing time. Beyond that I was not offered any care, no support was given, I was not encouraged to report my abuse to the police nor was my disclosure(s) passed to the relevant church safeguarding officer or any other authority by him.

In the statement by The Church of England’s National Safeguarding Team issued yesterday (above) it is claimed that the Archbishop did not fail to act on any disclosure made, because the responsibility to respond and act lay with the diocesan bishop, namely Steven Croft. The National Safeguarding Team are clearly stating here that Steven Croft should have acted. He didn’t and my abuser, The Revd Trevor Devamnaikkam, was left 4 ½ years after my first disclosure to Steven Croft and 4 years after my correspondence with John Sentamu to potentially abuse again. He was charged in May 2017 with 6 serious charges of sexual abuse against me. Steven Croft has admitted on several occasions that I disclosed my abuse to him in the media over the past 16 months. I have pursued the complaint against Steven Croft’s failures several times with the church who have blocked any attempt at investigation into his failures. The National Safeguarding team now acknowledge those failures and I call on Steven Croft to resign with immediate effect.

I also call upon Archbishop Sentamu to resign with immediate effect for failing to act on my disclosure to him and again, leaving my abuser for 4 years to potentially abuse again.

Both these bishops failed to act in accordance with Church of England Safeguarding guidelines and left children and the vulnerable at risk of harm for over 4 years. Both bishops neglected their duties regarding safeguarding and John Sentamu neglected his duties by also not exercising his authority in terms of discipline over Steven Croft or Peter Burrows. He is in effect passing the buck and saying ‘not my job’. Is it now the case that clergy, even bishops and archbishops, can ignore disclosures of abuse by simply saying ‘not my job’. There was also a complete lack of pastoral care by both of them.

In the past two days two more people have contacted me to say that some of the bishops I have complained about have also failed them in a similar manner.

Further, the memo addressed to the Archbishop in June 2017 refers to ‘survivors’ of Trevor Devamanikkam in the plural. The National Safeguarding Team dismiss this as being untrue and due to human error by the author of the memo. However, John Sentamu acknowledged, dated and signed this memo as ‘noted’. He therefore read that there were multiple victims of abuse and took no action or questioned this. This again potentially left other vulnerable people open to abuse. It may or may be the case that there were other victims of Trevor Devamanikkam. That is not the issue here. The issue is that John Sentamu was told in writing there was, acknowledged that and did not act as required to do so.

Also, I challenge the assertion that the National Safeguarding Team did not know that Trevor Devamanikkam had previously attempted to take his own life before his suicide. They did know, and no risk assessments or checks were carried out on him by anyone in The Church of England at all including the National Safeguarding team, anyone at diocesan level or by the diocesan bishop himself, Steven Croft.

Once again I call for the immediate resignations of John Sentamu and Steven Croft for breaching safeguarding procedures which they are required to do by virtue of the public office they each respectively hold as bishops of the established church. If they refuse to do so, and the church refuses to hold them to account, we once again have the Church of England complicit and colluding with the abuse of children and the vulnerable and taking no action to prevent it.

Matthew Ineson

Update

Archbishop Cranmer has responded to this with a lengthy article: The Church of England’s National Safeguarding Team is either untruthful or incompetent (or quite possibly both)

This article contains a detailed discussion about the various time limits applicable and the procedures for applying for extensions thereof. Its accuracy on these details has been queried. I’ll deal with this initially in the Comments below.

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Kate
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Kate

Sentamu has to go in the next few days. The NST press release has seen to that. It suggests that Sentamu identified that Steven Croft was responsible but, as Steven’s superior, failed to ensure that he acted. Sentamu can argue all he likes that he broke no rules – or get NST to argue for him – but as Oxfam demonstrated that isn’t enough. If there appears to be a serious failing, then reputationally a senior person needs to be held accountable and lose his/her position. If not, it will look as though the safeguarding policies are empty promises on… Read more »

Jo
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Jo

It does seem to me that “it wasn’t my responsibility” is a terrible position for anyone to take when it comes to reporting abuse, much less an Archbishop. I would have thought everyone working with vulnerable people would be operating on the same precautionary principle that I’ve had (rightly) drummed into me: if you’re the recipient of a disclosure or witness to anything that makes you consider the possibility of abuse you report it. It’s a simple principle which funnels information to (hopefully) experts who can collate and act on information. Sitting on a disclosure because you thought someone else… Read more »

Martin Sewell
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Martin Sewell

Early in my legal career, a very fine and wise District Judge advised me – I never accept the excuse “ I delegated ‘“.

I never forgot it and was a better lawyer and employer for it.

It applies here.

The Bishops have consistently defended each other and the NST. It is time they accepted “ The Buck stops here “.

Nick
Guest
Nick

National Safeguarding are also aware of my concern that Bishop Martin Warner did not pass on information I disclosed in 2012 and again in 2015.The abuser in question remains unhindered in ministry and his identity protected despite the Archbishop’s rebuttal of that recommendation from Carlile. Lambeth have simply turned their back on me.

Marc S
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Marc S

Last June, Croft readily accepted Carey’s swift resignation as an Assistant Bishop in his present diocese for failings in the Ball case. He now needs to fall on his own sword with similar alacrity. For his part, Welby soon wrote to Carey urging him to go – I trust he is, this very morning, advising his fellow archbishop that his position is simply untenable.

Janine Turner
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Janine Turner

This is a shocking situation, and ought to be publically acknowledged as such. In other professional settings I believe immediate action would follow. Government ministers, headteachers, GPs, in a situation like Bishops Croft and Sentamu would stand aside or be made to. Acknowledging the situation they should now have the grace to do so. The fact they don’t do so challenges the integrity of the Church, and indeed the ministry of the Gospel. In addition these men are in the House of Lords surely some action should be taken by the government. It is clear procedural technicalities (‘it wasn’t my… Read more »

Janet Fife
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Janet Fife

I agree with all the above.

I will add that in 2010 York Diocese gave PTO to a priest about whom there were serious safeguarding concerns. To my knowledge that priest still had PTO in 2013 despite the Cleveland Police Public Protection Officer having registered police concerns with the diocese. I have no information since, the man may still have PTO.

I have heard nothing from the NST regarding that case, or my own complaint, since before Christmas. I’ve now given up on the system.

Jeremy
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Jeremy

Someone should put together a timeline that reflects what is known about how Church officials handled the many cases before them. Such an omnibus timeline could show interesting things.

By way of example…

If, according to Mr. Ineson, an “internal,” who-knew-what-when memo was written on “25th July 2016,” then might–might–this explain the Archbishop of York’s eagerness to support, less than three months later, the sacking of an entire group of 30 bell ringers, and his denunciation of them in a video statement?

To quote Lord Carlile: “oversteer”?

Interested Observer
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Interested Observer

*Government ministers, headteachers, GPs, in a situation like Bishops Croft and Sentamu would stand aside or be made to.* I’m afraid I draw a rather bleak conclusion from that. Why is there not much general concern about the revelations around various professional cyclists’ drug use? Because the general public is inured to drug use in endurance sports, and essentially assumes that everyone is doing it. People aren’t inured to sexual abuse in government, schools and healthcare. There hasn’t been an endless parade of cases, and in particular there hasn’t been an endless parade of senior figures protecting the guilty. Archbishops… Read more »

TP
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TP

Janine: The Government is powerless. The Bishops sit in the House of Lords as of constitutional right. Removing individual bishops would not, I think, be possible, unless they were convicted of a serious criminal offence, and it would be impossible to argue that someone who remained a Bishop in good standing should nevertheless not sit in the Lords. Of course the other possibility is to get rid of some or all of the seats reserved for Bishops but that would only happen as part of a larger reform of the House of Lords. There will come a point where there… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

The statement in the _Archbishop Cranmer_ article that reads: Under the procedure, if either the registrar or bishop wish to have an extension of time, they are required to consult the complainant and respondent before applying to the President of Tribunals for an extension. is being queried by an expert. Apparently, they are required to consult, but they do not have to apply to the President of Tribunals, the bishop acting in a judicial role, can grant him/herself an extension of time. And, missing time limit does not render Complaint null and void. Apparently. Some extracts from the Rules: Bishop… Read more »

Dave
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Dave

This situation is totally unacceptable, but the Church does nothing about it. I mean not only bishops hide behind bland statements made by church officials, but I also mean no bishop breaks ranks and calls for resignations for the sake of integrity. This would happen in other professions – not in the Church of England. The silence of bishops cannot but indicate that they collude with the actions of Bishop Sentamu and Bishop Croft and many others. Clearly Archbishops and Bishops see as their priority self defence, often by silence or by blaming others. Their priority is certainly not care… Read more »

Paul Waddington
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Paul Waddington

Like Jeremy above, I immediately thought of the case of the bell ringers at York Minster. Archbishop Sentamu very publicly supported the sacking of 30 bell ringers at York Minster on the grounds of a suspicion (already discounted by the police) that one of them might have committed some form of sexual abuse in another field of activity. However, in the current case, despite the matter having been brought to his attention more than once, he declined to take any action about one of his own clergyman, about whom there were strong grounds to believe serious offences had been committed.… Read more »

Matthew Ineson
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Matthew Ineson

Simon. The point is that neither registrar nor bishop did consult on an extension. Therefore whether the decision to extend cannot be made by anybody, at all. Where does it say that missing time limits does not render the complaint null and void? If it doesn’t then do I take it that my original complaints back in 2016, which were ruled out of time, are still valid too? It seems that is the case. And can I just add. Why after all this time are we still having to debate all this. If the church had investigated all that time… Read more »

Matthew Ineson
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Matthew Ineson

Whilst some may find that this case is rapidly turning into the 21st century version of ‘Jarndyce and Jarndyce’ fascinating, it really is doing no one much good and certainly not me. The church could have sorted this a long time ago.

James Byron
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James Byron

Probably thanks to the Russian spy saga, the British media hasn’t picked up on this much, so odds of Sentamu being immediately forced out are low. If he’s done this knowingly, I agree that he should resign (realistically, the only way he’ll leave). But we should all remember that this is a man who risked death for his principles, something I suspect that the overwhelming majority of us can’t claim. Not the sort of man who you’d expect to cover up abuse. So I’m open to the possibility that this was a serious but genuine mistake. If so, it doesn’t… Read more »

Malcolm
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Malcolm

From what I’ve read and heard over recent weeks I think that behind a lot of the actions or non-actions of senior clergy and the National Safeguarding Team are heavily influenced if not even directed by the Church’s insurers. It is significant that two of their senior officials have submitted Statements to the IICSA and they are represented at the Inquiry by a barrister. The lack of pastoral care here seems to be that no one wants to take any action that might prejudice the Church’s insurance cover. That is shameful.

Jeremy
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Jeremy

Generally agree with Paul Waddington on the sharp contrast between how the Archbishop of York handled a complaint against a lay volunteer, on the one hand, and a complaint against a clergyman, on the other.

This contrast is even sharper when we recall that as of October 2016, when the 30 ringers were sacked, the lay volunteer himself had already been banned from ringing at the Minster 18 months previously.

Nevertheless in October 2016 the Archbishop saw fit to make very public accusations against 30 other ringers. I think we can now begin to understand why he did this.

Charles Read
Guest
Charles Read

I think James B and Malcolm speak much sense. Also, human beings do not act or think consistently. George Bebawi, who taught me doctrine at st John’s Nottingham, when discovered contradicting himself, used to say ‘I am a sinful human being – why do you expect me to be consistent?’

Now inconsistency in safeguarding matters has serious consequences – the evidence from Chichester this week has shown that.

And was it not the case in York Minster that the ringers would not comply with the cathedral’s safeguarding procedures?

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

“And was it not the case in York Minster that the ringers would not comply with the cathedral’s safeguarding procedures?” Such as? Here is the sacked band’s response, publicly available, to that rumor. After reading it, perhaps you might withdraw the question: “YMSCR were not given, or offered, any safeguarding briefings by Minster staff on this particular matter. When we requested such briefings, our requests were always declined on the grounds of confidentiality. “YMSCR have always complied with the Minster’s safeguarding policies. Indeed, in February 2016, our Ringing Master received an email from the retiring Minster Safeguarding Officer in which… Read more »

Interested Observer
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Interested Observer

I started out assuming that the York safeguarding system was sound, and therefore that there must be some reason for the bell-ringing debacle. I put all the belli-ringer responses through my “they would say that, wouldn’t they?” filter. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanlon's_razor (never ascribe to malice that which can be ascribed to stupidity) isn’t quite les mots justes, but it’s close: it does appear that in York there is a dysfunctional safeguarding culture, ultimately presided over by an Archbishop who is at best indifferent or at worst openly dismissive of safeguarding issues. The bell-ringing affair can therefore be explained as the irrational thrashing… Read more »

James Byron
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James Byron

There’s undoubtedly something rotten in the sate of York’s safeguarding culture. My willingness to extend the benefit of the doubt to Sentamu on the basis of his previous heroism shouldn’t be taken as any kind of endorsement of the institutions. Or, for that matter, the original handling of the complaint. Nor do I wish to downplay the hurt this catalogue of errors has caused Matthew Ineson. Due to ongoing internal and external legal processes, I know that Sentamu’s currently in no position to apologize, since doing so could be taken as an admission of culpability. When those are resolved, if… Read more »

Janet Fife
Guest
Janet Fife

James Byron, I don’t wish to comment on the reasons behind Sentamu’s dismissal of Matthew’s case, not least because I don’t know them. However, it is fact that a person can make a heroic stand for principle in one field, while behaving badly in another. Gandhi is an example, but there are very many others. That’s especially the case when the two sets of circumstances are separated by time, continent, profession, and status – we are all such variable beings. I don’t know why York has been so bad at safeguarding, but I know from personal experience that it has… Read more »

Interested Observer
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Interested Observer

*However, it is fact that a person can make a heroic stand for principle in one field, while behaving badly in another.*

Or even in the same field. It’s convenient to see people who opposed Hitler as also opposing anti-Semitism, for example, but it’s not that simple.

https://www.haaretz.com/1.5167195

There are very few people who are unalloyed in their virtue, and it’s not reasonable to expect that. Let us praise their actions, and not dig too hard when it comes to looking at their motives and thinking.

Kate
Guest
Kate

“The lack of pastoral care here seems to be that no one wants to take any action that might prejudice the Church’s insurance cover.”

Motor insurance policies include a provision that cover will be invalidated if a motorists admits liability – “Don’t worry mate. It was my fault. My insurer will pay,” isn’t allowed. The problem might well be that the church has signed up to policy conditions which now constrain pastoral care.

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

Unlike pre-war Lutherans steeped in anti-Semitism, we can safely assume that Sentamu’s as disgusted at abuse as any of us, both for the devastation it causes, and as an affront to the Gospel. That’s of course compatible with the safeguarding failures in York, failures that must be urgently remedied.

Janet Fife
Guest
Janet Fife

‘Unlike pre-war Lutherans steeped in anti-Semitism, we can safely assume that Sentamu’s as disgusted at abuse as any of us, both for the devastation it causes, and as an affront to the Gospel.’

It’s not safe to assume that of any of our hierarchy, unless their deeds show it to be true. And Sentamu is still not responding appropriately to survivors and those making allegations.

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

Janet, given that molestation’s the one sin so horrific that even hardened criminals are disgusted by it, we could safely assume that a man willing to give his life rather than go against his conscience shares in that disgust. In any case, we have no need of assumption, since Sentamu’s made his position clear in public statements.*

I’ve agreed throughout that there’s been serious failings in York, and that Sentamu must do better. If he doesn’t do so after the proceedings against him have been resolved, I’d support his resignation as much as anyone.

* https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/oct/22/john-sentamu-church-of-england-ashamed-abuse

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

“we can safely assume that Sentamu’s as disgusted at abuse as any of us” Can we? In the abstract, yes. But in terms of how willing he is to discomfit his colleagues, throw harsh light on his institution? I suspect he would make arguments about nuance and due process which some of us would interpret as equivocating. Consider George Carey. Is there any suggestion he is a prospective or covert child abuser, or a conscious supporter of those that are? No, clearly not. Not for a second. We can safely assume that Carey’s as disgusted at abuse as any of… Read more »

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

“Sentamu’s made his position clear in public statement” Words are cheap. Justin Welby has said he thinks that violence against gay people as wrong. His words are entirely empty, because although in the abstract Welby thinks killing gay people is wrong, he’s quite happy to break bread with, and generally cozy up to, people who are entirely relaxed about violence. He’s opposed to violence, all the way up to doing anything about it. So if it turns out that Sentamu is opposed to child abuse, so long as he isn’t expected to lift a finger, it would be of a… Read more »

Janet Fife
Guest
Janet Fife

James, public statements are easy to make, especially when you have a press officer and two chaplains to help you with them.

But Sentamu’s treatment of Matthew has been appalling, and he has totally ignored my own complaint. I’ll believe that abuse disgusts him when I see some action.

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

I agree that the treatment of Matthew has been appalling, Janet. If Sentamu is found culpable, he should, as I’ve said, resign. I’m simply mindful that, thanks to legal advice he’ll undoubtedly have received regarding the ongoing processes, he’s unable to post here or elsewhere to defend himself. I agree that words are cheap, Interested Observer: it’s Sentamu’s past actions that gave me pause; specifically, his refusing, when a judge in Uganda, to acquit a cousin of Idi Amin, despite knowing it could well cost him his life.* Still in his 20s, was ready to die before he let a… Read more »

Matthew Ineson
Guest
Matthew Ineson

‘If Sentamu is found culpable’. James, Sentamu’s culpability was issued on the statement issued by the Church of England’s own National Safeguarding Team. They acknowledge he received my disclosure letter and then excused his action by saying it wasn’t his job to respond. Not only did the NST condemn Steven Croft in this statement they also tried to excuse Sentamu’s inaction by setting the new standard for the CofE that people can ignore disclosures of sexual abuse (and as Archbishop ignore a complaint that the diocesan whose job he says it was to respond to my disclosure, the diocesan who… Read more »

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

Maybe, James. But I’d draw a pretty sharp distinction between on the one hand bravely (and I don’t deny bravely) standing up to an authoritarian regime to convict a scion of that authoritarian regime, and on the other hand being asked to advocate for a powerless victim when the accused offenders are your friends and there is a serious risk of repuational harm to an institution you represent. In the first case, he was bravely standing up for his ideal of a liberal democracy against a fascist regime. The second case, he is being asked to condemn his friends and… Read more »

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

Matthew, it’s completely unacceptable; and if the policies allow for it, the policies are wrong. By culpable, I wasn’t referring just to Sentamu’s actions, but to how he perceived them and his role; especially given serious institutional failings such as the CoE refusing to enforce mandatory reporting. I couldn’t agree more about the need for checks on bishops’ power (I’ve posted about it frequently on here), and about the need for a wholesale change in culture and policy around safeguarding. I’ve even said that the seal of the confessional should be broken if the alleged penitent admits to unreported abuse… Read more »