Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Church of England issues statement about Matthew Ineson

Updated Thursday noon

Statement on Matthew Ineson case

Due to a BBC report this week and comments on social media the National Safeguarding Team has issued a statement to clarify details of the case.

Matthew Ineson’s case has been taken very seriously since it came to our attention. The account of the abuse he suffered as a teenager is harrowing and we are aware that the death of his alleged perpetrator, Trevor Devamanikkan, before he could stand trial, was extremely difficult for Matthew Ineson. We were not aware of any previous attempts by Trevor Devamanikkan on his own life; had we known we obviously would have commissioned a risk assessment. Once the Church was aware of the criminal investigation, the Church made offers of support to Trevor Devamanikkan, which he refused.

We can confirm that the Archbishop of York responded to a letter he received from Matthew Ineson in June 2013, in which Matthew Ineson enclosed a copy of a letter to him from the then Bishop of Sheffield and his own response to the Bishop. The Archbishop did not fail to act on any disclosure made. As the Diocesan Bishop has responsibility for matters such as these in their diocese, this is a matter for the Diocesan Bishop to inform the Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser (Protecting All God’s Children - the Policy for Safeguarding Children in the Church of England, section 4.5). For this reason, the Archbishop acknowledged Matthew Ineson’s letter and assured him of his prayers.

As regards to a memo addressed to the Archbishop of York in June 2017 which refers to survivors in the plural, the Archbishop of York’s Office have already explained this was simply human error. We have worked closely with the police throughout and we have only ever dealt with one victim. This was double-checked with the police last week.

As we have said before there are currently complaints from Matthew Ineson himself, which are being investigated under the Clergy Discipline Measure. Once these complaints have been dealt with, the Core Group, which is the Church’s response to any allegations of abuse, has already decided that an independent review of the case will be commissioned.

It is not possible to go into any further details of this case.

Update The statement above was issued by publication on the CofE website (with a notification on Twitter) at around 2 pm on Wednesday. Matt Ineson has reported on Twitter that he was not told about this statement by the National Safeguarding Team, and indeed has not been contacted by them for about two months.

The Archbishop Cranmer blog on Thursday published this article by Martin Sewell: Abuse victim: “The cruel and inhuman treatment I have received from the National Safeguarding Team in Church House, and others in the Church of England hierarchy, makes what Peter Ball did to me pale into insignificance”.

It has not been a good week for the Church of England. We were warned as much by our Lead Bishop for Safeguarding, Peter Hancock, when he led the safeguarding presentation to General Synod in February. Indeed, he predicted a rocky path for the next two years. Although he did not say so, we probably deserve it after years of institutional neglect and lethargy. This week is perhaps the start of the purging of complacency.

The opening of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) into the deficiencies of the Established Church will take the headlines, but other stories have also arisen. The poor handling of Fr Matt Ineson’s complaints against five bishops was featured in the BBC Inside Out programme, and the substance of it appeared on the BBC website. It was covered by Christian Today, and, as so often, His Grace offered a strong and incisive contribution…

Read the whole article, please.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 7 March 2018 at 11:20pm GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England

"The Archbishop did not fail to act on any disclosure made. As the Diocesan Bishop has responsibility for matters such as these in their diocese, this is a matter for the Diocesan Bishop to inform the Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser (Protecting All God’s Children - the Policy for Safeguarding Children in the Church of England, section 4.5). For this reason, the Archbishop acknowledged Matthew Ineson’s letter and assured him of his prayers."

Not my job, mate. That's what procedures say.

That's a line which might avoid procedural culpability, but do we really believe that archbishops should be held to such a low standard of conduct?

Posted by: Kate on Thursday, 8 March 2018 at 6:34am GMT

So much for those who claim that the Church has learned its lessons, and every single person in the hierarchy is keen on transparency and justice! Nothing has changed.

Posted by: Janet Fife on Thursday, 8 March 2018 at 9:09am GMT

"For this reason, the Archbishop acknowledged Matthew Ineson’s letter and assured him of his prayers."

Complete indifference to child abuse is never a good look. Presumably the task of trying to prevent loving couples from marrying was occupying too much of his time to worry about such trivia, which is why he just acknowledged the letter, shrugged his shoulders and moved on.

"the Archbishop of York’s Office have already explained this was simply human error"

I mean, it's not as if they were writing about anything important, so why bother checking it for correctness? First draft is fine. Shrug. Whatever.

Posted by: Interested Observer on Thursday, 8 March 2018 at 9:13am GMT

This looks bad for Sentamu. He receives a written disclosure from Mr Ineson (an Anglican priest himself) who reports that he had been repeatedly raped by a clergyman (Devamannikan) when he was a (vulnerable, homeless) 16 year old, that he has disclosed this to Bishop Stephen Croft and others several times and no action has been taken. He has received no support, no investigation, no reparation. And Sentamu says, in effect, just keep trying with Croft can you. Not my problem.

Surely Sentamu had (a) a moral duty of care (b) oversight of croft especially on disciplinary matters (c) a responsibility to disclose to the police, or at least to refer the matter to some internal or external safeguarding body to escalate it?

In the context of being repeatedly ignored, how must Mr Ineson now feel to have this statement about him put out by the CofE? Suicidal is one obvious answer. He is being treated as a 'case' and a problem not a suffering, hurt, human being who has a serious and entirely credible allegation of abuse. What is stopping people from doing the right thing?

Posted by: linda woodhead on Thursday, 8 March 2018 at 12:01pm GMT

Does the NST not see that in publishing this statement in the way that they have (without letting Mathew know or showing him any pastoral concern), with the content that they have (trying to exonerate certain people and defend their inaction) at the timing they have (at the start of IICSA) that they give clear evidence to how broken the system is!

Posted by: Jayne Ozanne on Thursday, 8 March 2018 at 2:17pm GMT

The most damning thing for Archbishop Sentamu is that when his safeguarding Officer pointed out to him in a memo that Ineson had repeatedly reported the abuse to his bishop and now to his Archbishop, he wrote on the Memo; No Action.

The recent statement from the C of E just makes things worse. They still do not seem to be taking the matter seriously.

Posted by: Paul Waddington on Thursday, 8 March 2018 at 3:00pm GMT

are you saying that they didn't check with Matthew that it would be ok to publish this?
Oh my!

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 8 March 2018 at 8:05pm GMT

Erika. Yes that is what my article reports in its Thursday noon update.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 8 March 2018 at 10:19pm GMT

No they didn't inform me about this statement. The National Safeguarding Team haven't contacted me for 3 months and havent returned messages I left. Doesn't surprise me. I am not the only victim of abuse they have treated like this. Just for the record.
Croft and Sentamu MUST now resign. Sentamu and National Safeguarding Team say Croft should have acted on my disclosures (I've been saying that for years but they ignored me), say that Sentamu didn't have to respond to disclosure cos it wasn't his job - it was Crofts’s - (Please show me in the Church of England Safeguarding policy where it says that the 'I can ignore disclosures cos it's not my job' excuse is practice) and he signed, dated and acknowledged a memo which reported there were several victims of a sex abuser but did nothing about it and now years later claims it was a typing error. Mmmmm

Posted by: Matthew Ineson on Thursday, 8 March 2018 at 11:45pm GMT

Matthew, as you are posting here directly I want to thank you for your courage in speaking out about this and hope that it is rewarded by seeing better outcomes for future survivors. Is there anything that lay members of the church might do to support you?

Posted by: Jo on Friday, 9 March 2018 at 7:38am GMT

Thank you Jo. On a practical level I would encourage support for the call for resignations. This would show that people are no longer going to accept such appalling safeguarding standard failures. Every day someone is being abused. Every minute someone is hurting because of abuse. We have to do all we can to make sure this stops. If that means resignations, then so be it.
On a personal level, just hope I get my life back and some peace. It has been going on for over 5 1/2 years. All victims/survivors would want that.

Posted by: Matthew Ineson on Friday, 9 March 2018 at 12:23pm GMT

Oh Matthew, I am so sorry and appalled that the abuse is still continuing, in the form of continued rejection of responsibility and in the form of not keeping you in the loop. This is appalling!
I will certainly support your call for resignations.
And I hope and pray that there will be a resolution and change, and that you will find peace.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 9 March 2018 at 3:12pm GMT

Personally I think that the Church of England should say something like

"We know that we have made mistakes and have failed victims/survivors, and that our procedures have sometimes given more priority to insiders than to complainants - that is evident from many stories we have heard. Our institutional attitude and culture is currently being considered in detail by IICSA, and we know that their recommendations and insights will help us to move forward and may require radical changes. Stories like Matthew's have been too common, and we need to learn how to do better. We hope that we will be able to improve some things because of what we learn through the IICSA hearings, even if some of their recommendations can only be delivered through significant structural and legal changes. In the meantime we will no longer comment in public on our conduct of particular cases. rather we will put our energies into engaging with, and supporting, those who have previously received suboptimal responses, and the additional victims/survivors/complainants who may be emboldened to come forward. We need to direct our energies to engage personally ["relationally" was used by a compelling witness] with those most deeply affected by our previous failings and make sure that our contribution to the IICSA process is as constructive and effective as possible."

And then actually put expertise and money into dealing with what is in front of us now.

One of the questions IICSA is already asking is "has the culture changed?" (or "changed enough?")

You do not have to say anything, but anything you do say may be taken down and used in evidence against you.

Posted by: Mark Bennet on Friday, 9 March 2018 at 7:15pm GMT
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