Comments: Matthew Ineson responds to statement from NST

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 paper which can be ignored without consequences as Matthew Ineson points out.

Worse, the NST press release has made it appear that they see their primary role as protecting the reputation of bishops and archbishops - what other purpose did they have in issuing the press release? That leaves the credibility of the NST in tatters too. That's going to take an immediate reform of the NST or the resignation of Sentamu to repair.

Matthew says this:

"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."

Sentamu and the NST might disagree with that assessment - and probably do - but the impression given is that highlighted by Matthew and it is that impression which needs to be addressed, regardless of whether it is a strictly accurate impression or not.

Posted by Kate at Friday, 9 March 2018 at 6:39am GMT

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 should have dealt with it is unconscionable.

Posted by Jo at Friday, 9 March 2018 at 7:19am GMT

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 “.

Posted by Martin Sewell at Friday, 9 March 2018 at 8:34am GMT

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.

Posted by Nick at Friday, 9 March 2018 at 9:18am GMT

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.

Posted by Marc S at Friday, 9 March 2018 at 9:52am GMT

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 responsibility' approach) are given priority over care of the vulnerable. The silence or 'mealy mouthed' statements of central authorities, and lack of pastoral concern is verging on scandalous.

Posted by Janine Turner at Friday, 9 March 2018 at 10:46am GMT

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.

Posted by Janet Fife at Friday, 9 March 2018 at 12:13pm GMT

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"?

Posted by Jeremy at Friday, 9 March 2018 at 12:49pm GMT

*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 of the Church of England have either ignored or actively defended clear evidence of abuse. The public are now inured to that, and assume the organisation is institutionally incapable of preventing, and indifferent to evidence of, child abuse. So whether an Archbishop resigns or not doesn't matter: their credibility on the topic is non-existent anyway.

The Catholic Church in Ireland lost over same-sex marriage, and is likely to lose on abortion in a few months' time. Society is changing in many ways and it would be crass to point to a single factor, but the catholic church's refusal to face up to reality on child abuse meant that its credibility as a moral force has gone. The CofE is now in the same place.

Posted by Interested Observer at Friday, 9 March 2018 at 1:30pm GMT

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 will be cross-party consensus that this should happen. It is regrettable, perhaps, that the church doesn't see this happening and doesn't volunteer to give up most of its seats as part of the current desire to slim the Lords down.

It's traditional for retiring Archbishops to be given Life Peerages, but it will be interesting to see if that tradition is continued.

Posted by TP at Friday, 9 March 2018 at 2:31pm GMT

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 may extend time for his/her consideration, Rule 18, but is required to consult

Bishop may extend time for Respondents answer - Rule 17(5)(a)

Registrar can give him/herself extension of time - Rule 13(3) but is required to consult

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Friday, 9 March 2018 at 4:51pm GMT

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 of victims.

When will we hear 'I have made serious mistakes and regret them. I have not shown appropriate care for the victims and the vulnerable. I am sorry and feel I have no option but to step down.'

Sadly I believe these men (and I guess it will be men) bishops will hold on to power at any cost. (PS They certainly will not voluntarily leave the House of Lords!!)

Posted by Dave at Friday, 9 March 2018 at 4:53pm GMT

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.
What is particularly shaming is that when the whole matter gets exposed, the response is to blame someone else. Furthermore, it seems that not did Sentamu try to hush the matter up, but the whole bureaucracy of the C of E supported this approach.

Posted by Paul Waddington at Friday, 9 March 2018 at 5:35pm GMT

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 ago such serious complaints this could have been resolved a very long time ago and Trevor Devmanikkam might not have taken his own life. The bishops objected to the extension of the time limit in my case and so have assisted in the prolonging of this case...and no one knows what that has done to my health.

Posted by Matthew Ineson at Friday, 9 March 2018 at 5:42pm GMT

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.

Posted by Matthew Ineson at Friday, 9 March 2018 at 5:44pm GMT

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 lessen the importance of changing procedures to deliver justice to complainants.

Posted by James Byron at Friday, 9 March 2018 at 7:01pm GMT

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.

Posted by Malcolm at Friday, 9 March 2018 at 7:27pm GMT

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.

Posted by Jeremy at Friday, 9 March 2018 at 9:10pm GMT

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?

Posted by Charles Read at Friday, 9 March 2018 at 11:06pm GMT

"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 she concluded by thanking him “for co-operating so willingly with me over the past few years as we all strove to give child protection the important profile it demands”. Chapter decided to temporarily exclude an individual from ringing activities in April 2015, and we have complied with that decision at all times. Chapter informed us on 4th August 2016 that their decision to exclude the individual on a temporary basis had been changed to a permanent exclusion.

"The remaining members of YMSCR. It is important to be clear that there is no possible ground for questioning the standing of the remaining members in terms of safeguarding. Twenty members of the band were DBS holders, and several had safeguarding training as part of their employment. These members of the band are as committed to safeguarding as any other volunteer at the Minster. That they have been summarily dismissed from the Minster after, in some cases, decades of loyal service, is deeply distressing for them. For there to be an implied questioning of their suitability to safeguard young ringers has caused untold hurt to them and their families."

Posted by Jeremy at Saturday, 10 March 2018 at 2:21am GMT

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.'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 of a failing organisation.

Posted by Interested Observer at Saturday, 10 March 2018 at 10:53am GMT

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 he's the man that many of us think he is, I hope he does; and just as crucially, starts working to set things right.

Posted by James Byron at Saturday, 10 March 2018 at 12:57pm GMT

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 been. When I was a parish priest in the diocese, which was not so long ago, we didn't even have a safeguarding officer. All complaints were handled either by your archdeacon or by the diocesan secretary. Eventually a DSA was appointed, but only for 3 hours a week and we were not allowed to contact her directly; she merely advised the archbishop, bishops, and archdeacons. It's only in the last 4 years, as far as I know, that more resources have been devoted to safeguarding. That argues that, at a very high level, it was considered unimportant.

And I know of one case where diocesan authorities ignored police concerns and advice. There may well have been others.

Posted by Janet Fife at Saturday, 10 March 2018 at 6:19pm GMT

*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.

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.

Posted by Interested Observer at Saturday, 10 March 2018 at 7:17pm GMT

"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.

Posted by Kate at Saturday, 10 March 2018 at 7:29pm GMT

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.

Posted by James Byron at Sunday, 11 March 2018 at 12:44am GMT

'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.

Posted by Janet Fife at Sunday, 11 March 2018 at 9:39am GMT

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.


Posted by James Byron at Sunday, 11 March 2018 at 3:22pm GMT

"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 us.

But given complaints about child abuse and allegations against people he saw as his friends or colleagues, how did this disgust balance against concern for the reputation of individual, or that of the Church? Well, that's a delicate question, to which he seems somewhat unwilling to give a straightforward answer.

Janet is alluding to Matthew 7:16: Ye shall know them by their fruits. I am inclined to agree.

Posted by Interested Observer at Sunday, 11 March 2018 at 4:49pm GMT

"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 piece with his boss's moral inertia.

Posted by Interested Observer at Sunday, 11 March 2018 at 7:28pm GMT

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.

Posted by Janet Fife at Sunday, 11 March 2018 at 8:18pm GMT

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 guilty man escape justice. Perhaps he has changed dramatically since then, but I'll at least allow the possibility that these grave failings weren't deliberate.

Regardless, they should of course never have happened, and whatever the culpability, York must do all it can to try and atone.


Posted by James Byron at Sunday, 11 March 2018 at 11:12pm GMT

'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 by that time had already ignored three disclosures from me) on the basis that it is someone else's job. Please show me in CofE safeguarding policies where that is shown to be procedure and acceptable. If a vicar had ignored a disclosure of abuse and come up with the 'not my parish sorry' excuse they would be out on their ear.

Posted by Matthew Ineson at Monday, 12 March 2018 at 8:46am GMT

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 his own institution in order to defend the powerless. They're totally different situations.

Posted by Interested Observer at Monday, 12 March 2018 at 11:23am GMT

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 and refuses to go immediately to the authorities.

Whatever's found against Sentamu (and I may well be wrong about his culpability), the church must change radically to protect those in its care.

Posted by James Byron at Monday, 12 March 2018 at 9:45pm GMT
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