The Dean of Southwark, The Very Revd Andrew Nunn, has announced his intention to retire on 4 July 2023 following the 40th anniversary of his ordination as Deacon…1 Comment
The Metropolitan Police has confirmed that Martin Sargeant, former Head of Operations in the Two Cities, has been charged with fraud and money-laundering, dating back to between 2009 and 2019. Mr Sargeant left the Diocese in 2019, following a review of his role instigated by the new Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally. At the time there was no suspicion or evidence of criminality but, last year, the London Diocesan Fund (LDF) made a report to the Action Fraud unit of the Police, and a serious incident report to the Charity Commission, after a parish raised concerns about funds they had not received.
Over the past year, the LDF has worked closely to support the Police and to maintain the confidential, sensitive nature of their complex investigation at the Police’s request. Trustees of the LDF were first informed on a confidential basis, with permission of the Police, earlier this year. Any church or other organisation known to be relevant to these enquiries has already been approached as part of the investigation. The fraud is historic in nature, and does not relate to Common Fund or the present day funding of parishes. The Police’s work has involved extensive analysis of financial records relating to both the Diocese and the individual over a long period and the securing of a court order to freeze the individual’s assets. The total sum of money involved is believed to be in the region of £5m, affecting a number of different organisations.
Richard Perry, Chair of the London Diocesan Fund’s Audit and Risk Committee:
“Following the reporting of our concerns to the Police, our priority has been to support their work, and to do all we can to secure the defrauded funds. Our independent auditors have also carried out an urgent review of our present-day financial controls, to confirm they are robust. A second independent inquiry will report to the London Diocesan Fund’s trustees and look at what happened and how, and will make any further recommendations for the future, once the current case has been closed.”
The Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally, said:
“This appears to be a gross betrayal of trust for all those who knew and worked with this individual. After I came to the Diocese in 2018, his role was reviewed and he left the following year. While there was no evidence of anything inappropriate at the time, with the further information that has subsequently been uncovered, it now seems he exploited his position for personal gain.
“I want to thank the Police, and the London Diocesan Fund’s financial team, for their work over the past year, as they continue to investigate the extent of this complex fraud that was perpetuated over a decade.”
The LDF continues to support the Police with their investigation but will not be able to comment further publicly at this time.23 Comments
Updated 12 July
This news story is now reported in a fourth place:
This news story is reported in three separate places:
There are varying amounts of detail in these accounts, but what is notable is that Church of England officials are also implicated in the handling of this matter.
From the Church Times:
…Gilo also welcomed the mediation from EIO “over their repeated public dissembling around the review into my case. The bishop mandated to implement the review recommendations [the then Bishop of Crediton, now the Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Sarah Mullally] and the secretary-general of the Archbishops’ Council, William Nye, remained silent to every question and request for help on this. Eventually a Subject Access Request revealed complicity between the Archbishops’ Council, NST, and Ecclesiastical, and showed they had sought to work together on reputational management.”
And his earlier comments in September 2020 can be found here: Thoughts on the Elliott Review ‘translation’ by Archbishops Council.
From Surviving Church:
Ian Elliott, the internationally recognised safeguarding expert and reviewer, has said:
“I want to take this opportunity to acknowledge and welcome the agreement to reach a mediated settlement with Ecclesiastical Insurance regarding the dissembling that has marked their response to the review that I undertook of a historic abuse case for the Church of England. Over the course of the years since I produced the report, EIO have made comments on national television, on their website, and in evidence to the Inquiry (IICSA), regarding the accuracy of my assessments, claiming that they were flawed. These damaging statements are completely untrue. Despite this, they were never publicly withdrawn and no attempt has ever been made by EIO or the Church to set the record straight. Telling the truth is important and when that does not happen, trust is damaged and lost.”
From Insurance Business:
A spokesperson for the Church of England, which was not involved in the settlement and was unable to comment on it but was involved in the Elliott Review, said that “the rights of survivors and victims to protect their data and our duty to use that data properly in any aspect of our work is paramount.”
“We will continue to unreservedly apologise for the Church’s poor response to survivors and victims, as highlighted at IICSA, and are committed to engaging with them to inform our future work,” the spokesperson said.
As Andrew Greystone says (Surviving Church)
I wish the House of Bishops in England would step up and take responsibility for the damage the church has done. Instead, victims and survivors of abuse in the Church of England find the church’s hierarchy resistant at every stage. It’s not that the bishops don’t care about justice and healing for victims of church abuse. Some certainly do. It’s just quite low on their list of priorities.
As Gilo and many others know only too well, every engagement with the church on this issue is an uphill struggle. Some survivors who have already lost years to fighting to have their voices heard, fear that they will face further years of legal battles to persuade the church to make redress.
Bishops need to understand that healing for victims of abuse is not a drag on the mission of the church. It IS the mission of the church.”
From Insurance Post:
Richard Scorer, head of abuse law team at Slater and Gordon and Gilo’s solicitor in this case, said: “The outcome of this case speaks for itself. Ecclesiastical initially treated the claim as a claim for a minor data breach. But it has now paid substantially more by way of damages than would ordinarily be paid for a simple breach.
“In addition, its CEO Mark Hews has provided an unreserved apology, and it has agreed to a further mediation about the wider issue of its public treatment of the Elliott review. By settling the matter in this way, it has in reality acknowledged that this data breach occurred in a wider context of EIO failings towards survivors, some of which were explored in IICSA, and that those failings significantly aggravated this data breach. I hope that these events will be part of an urgent and radical reshaping of EIO’s behaviour towards survivors, and the full implementation of the Elliott report”.
This post will be updated as the meeting proceeds.
Live Video etc
All sessions are streamed live on YouTube and remain available to view afterwards.
There is an official Twitter account.
Official press releases
Archbishop of York’s Presidential Address
Synod endorses plan to reach net zero carbon by 2030
Archbishop of Canterbury’s speech in Synod debate on the war in Ukraine
General Synod welcomes £3.6bn investment in mission and ministry
General Synod safeguarding session
Synod debates review of Strategic Development and Lowest Income Communities Funding
More funding needed for palliative care, General Synod hears, in debate on Assisted Suicide
Synod hears of suffering of Ukrainian citizens as it votes to condemn Russian invasion
Synod backs motion affirming disabled people in the life and ministry of the Church
General Synod calls for stronger age verification for pornography websites
Global Anglican Communion given greater voice in choice of future Archbishops of Canterbury
Synod welcomes new report setting out proposals for Clergy Conduct Measure
Archbishop of Canterbury pays tribute to Her Majesty The Queen at General Synod
Press reports etc
Synod approves net-zero routemap after climate protest
Five overseas Anglicans will help choose the next Archbishop of Canterbury
Love knows no boundaries, Bishop Poggo tells Synod congregation
Synod rejects assisted dying by a large majority
Synod debates what justice might look like in Ukraine
Government must legislate to protect children against porn, Synod resolves
Synod strongly supports swift overhaul of clergy discipline
What happened at the General Synod in York?
David Pocklington at Law & Religion UK
Synod members’ blogs
General Synod: Ukraine
General Synod (8-12 July, 2022)
There are 11 Questions to the House of Bishops on Safeguarding, all to be answered by the Bishop of Rochester. They are all listed here.
Mrs Kat Alldread (Derby) to ask the Chair of the House of Bishops:
Q3 Please can you tell us how many cases have been referred to the Independent Safeguarding Board for their review and the dates of those referrals?
A One case has been referred. The date of referral was 08 April 2022.
Mr Clive Billenness (Europe) to ask the Chair of the House of Bishops:
Q4 Paper GS 2263 (Update on Safeguarding) states at Paragraph 18 that the Independent Safeguarding Board can scrutinise or review how the Church has handled a particular case.if it decides to after a case has been referred to it. Have criteria and procedures been published about such referrals of cases – e.g., who may refer a case, in what circumstances, and on what basis will the ISB decide what cases to scrutinise?
A Review activity by the Independent Safeguarding Board will vary in different cases.
Referrals to the ISB could come from a range of possible sources, including individuals; parish or diocesan safeguarding bodies; the NST; clergy, or the NCIs. Its remit is to bring forward lessons and to recommend and promote best practice.
Decisions are reached on a case-by-case basis after consideration as to whether the ISBs remit covers what is requested. The ISB will decide on whether the Board should undertake a review, and if so, what its nature should be.
This approach is comparable to that seen in case review sub-committees of safeguarding partnerships or boards in wider society, where a range of actions may or may not follow their deliberations.
Mr Martin Sewell (Rochester) to ask the Chair of the House of Bishops:
Q5 When interviewed by the BBC Sunday programme about the refusal of victim Matt Ineson to co-operate with the Review into his own case, Public Inquiry Specialist and regulatory expert Kate Blackwell QC identified the necessary features of best practice for such a review as follows:
1. It must be search for the truth to shed light on what has gone wrong;
2. Scrutiny of complex issues should be done through a panel of independent experts each bringing levels of excellence from various perspectives;
3. It goes without saying that the panel must have complete independence from any party; and
4. It must engender complete faith in the survivors.
She publicly opined that the Devamannikam Review did not meet those standards and the victim has refused to participate.
Did the Archbishops Council specifically consider each of these principles before determining that the Independent Safeguarding Board was the optimal forum in which to address the various complaints of Dr Martyn Percy that for four years, he has been the victim of institutional bullying within the Christ Church Foundation in which several Oxford clergy and Diocesan advisors are alleged to have participated?
A The ISB exists to provide independent scrutiny and oversight of the Churchs safeguarding activity, to hold the Church to account for our actions as part of the ISBs remit to learn lessons from safeguarding matters. Given its remit the ISBs view was that there were likely to be lessons to be learned, the Archbishops Council and the Diocese of Oxford referred to the ISB the Churchs safeguarding activities in the last two years with respect to Dr Martyn Percy and Christ Church Oxford. They considered that it would be within the ISBs remit and the expertise of its members. They did not specifically consider the contents of the interview by Dr Blackwell. This is not intended to be a comprehensive review of all the issues around Christ Church. That would go well beyond the remit of the ISB. It is not, nor intended to be, a public inquiry.
Updated 9 July
Vocations process and Issues in human sexuality
Revd Mae Christie (Southwark) to move:
‘That this Synod request that the House of Bishops remove any requirements relating to Issues in Human Sexuality from the Vocations (Shared Discernment) Process.’
In connection with the above, there is also a Question, published today, which is also copied below:
The Revd Mae Christie (London) to ask the Chair of the Ministry Council:
Q62 When and by what mechanism was Issues in Human Sexuality formally written into the Selection Criterion of the Church of England?
The Bishop of Chester to reply as Chair of the Ministry Council:
A We do not have a record of the date or the mechanism by which Issues in Human Sexuality was formally written into the former Selection Criteria. Unfortunately, since the information is not readily available it could not be obtained within the time-frame available for responding to Synod questions.
The answer is quite extraordinary. Maybe some of our readers can help out here?
PS Mthr Mae has not moved dioceses.
For the benefit of those wondering what exactly was in the former selection criteria about this,, here’s the wording:
E 5: Candidates should be able to accept the standards of sexual morality expected of ordained ministers
Evidence for this may be drawn from a candidate’s capacity to:
And in the new (current) selection criteria, it says this
The following supplementary question was put on Friday evening by Mae Christie
If it cannot be established that IHS was inserted into the discernment process , having been ordered so by the House of Bishops, and is therefore in place illegitimately, will the house of bishops, in coordination with ministry division, consider removing it from the shared discernment process with immediate effect?
Another question related to Safeguarding.
Mr Paul Waddell (Southwark) to ask the Chair of the Finance Committee:
Q55 In February 2020 John Spence told Synod that This is not about affordability, it is about justice. . . The funds for redress will be found. How much money has been budgeted for redress payments to survivors of church abuse, and where does it appear in our budgets for the coming year?
Canon John Spence to reply as Chair of the Finance Committee:
A That commitment stands but the speed of progress is dependent on numerous factors. The redress scheme must be survivor focussed and not limited by existing budget lines.
Appropriate responsibility for redress needs to be taken at every level of the Church. On the subsidiarity principle, costs should be met by the most appropriate body and all responsibility should not fall on the national Church.
The national Church future spending plans include an allowance towards redress scheme costs, but a formal budget has not yet been set. The matter of where redress scheme payments will be included in future budgets and the budget level will be considered as the work on developing the redress scheme is progressed.
The costs of the project to develop a redress scheme are within the safeguarding line of the Archbishops Councils budget. This work is being overseen by a Project Board which includes survivor representatives.
In two earlier TA articles (first this and then that one) , we have linked to criticisms (first here and then here) of the ISB’s current role in relation to the Oxford Christ Church investigation. We also linked earlier to the text of a reply from William Nye to the first of the two letters of criticism.
Among the Questions for the General Synod in York this weekend, there is one which relates directly to this.
The Revd Canon Simon Talbott (Ely) to ask the Presidents of the Archbishops’ Council:
Q123 Given the material that members of the Archbishops’ Council have been copied into relevant to the case of Dr Percy, have any of them submitted a Serious Incident Report to the Charity Commission and if not, why not?
Canon Dr Jamie Harrison to reply on behalf of the Presidents of the Archbishops’ Council:
A There have been long-running and some public exchanges with the Archbishops’ Council and members of General Synod and others relating to the process followed by the National Safeguarding Team and Dr Percy. This includes some correspondence directly with the Charity Commission, following which discussions took place between the Council and Charity Commission senior officers. Recent correspondence from Dr Percy and some Synod members sets out a difference of views as to how best to introduce independent oversight into Church of England safeguarding. The Archbishops’ Council does not assess that such correspondence meets the threshold for a serious incident report.
Given this is question number 123, it seems unlikely that supplementary questions will occur.
The relevant category in this case is presumably
which is elaborated as:
The Questions (and Answers) for this weekend’s meeting of the Church of England’s General Synod were published today. The Question sessions (on Friday and Saturday evenings) will be devoted to supplementary questions.
The original version of the Questions Notice Paper contained a number of errors (listed in Notice Paper 11) and has been replaced (at the same URL) by a corrected version.3 Comments
Appointment of Suffragan Bishop of Plymouth: 6 July 2022
The Queen has approved the nomination of The Reverend Prebendary James Grier to the Suffragan See of Plymouth.
From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
Published 6 July 2022
The Queen has approved the nomination of The Reverend Prebendary James Grier, Prebendary of Exeter Cathedral and Diocesan Mission Enabler, in the Diocese of Exeter, to the Suffragan See of Plymouth, in the Diocese of Exeter, in succession to The Right Reverend Nicholas McKinnel following his retirement.
James was educated at St Peter’s College, Oxford, and trained for ministry at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford. He served his title at St Andrew’s, Oxford, and was ordained Priest in 1999.
James served as Associate Vicar at St John the Baptist, Harborne Heath, in the Diocese of Birmingham from 2002. He was appointed Team Vicar of St Michael and All Angels, Pinhoe in the Diocese of Exeter in 2007, also serving as Diocesan Youth Advisor. As Youth Advisor, he established Unlimited Church, which became a Bishop’s Mission Order in 2012.
In 2019, James took up his current role as Diocesan Mission Enabler. He has also served as Prebendary of Exeter Cathedral since 2020.19 Comments
Alexander Kubeyinje, an experienced social work director, has been appointed as the Church of England’s new permanent national director of safeguarding. He will start the role in September and takes over from Zena Marshall, who has been interim director since January 2021.
Alexander has held a range of senior roles in children’s social care including at Lambeth, Southend and Bedford. He is currently completing an interim role as director of children’s social care for Herefordshire. His work includes vast experience of child protection and safeguarding practice, and he is committed to ensuring the Church is a safe place for all, continuing the work to ensure the right systems are in place for children, young people, vulnerable adults and the community to be able to worship and take part in church-related activities, feeling protected and safe.
Alexander studied at Havering College of Further Education.
Commenting on his appointment Alexander said: “I am excited to be taking on the role of National Director of Safeguarding for the Church of England. I am passionate about equality, diversity and the protection of the most vulnerable in our communities.”
William Nye, Secretary General to the Archbishops’ Council, said: “I am delighted that Alexander Kubeyinje has agreed to take on this role at a time when the Church is consolidating a range of new safeguarding developments, particularly as a response to IICSA’s recommendations.
“While we acknowledge there is still a lot of work to do Alexander’s senior level experience will build on the vital work carried out by Zena Marshall who has had led the team on an interim basis for the past 18 months.”
Bishop Jonathan Gibbs, the Church of England’s lead safeguarding bishop, said: “I warmly welcome the appointment of Alexander as the Church’s new Director of Safeguarding and along with the other lead safeguarding bishops, I look forward to working with him.
“His experience will provide continuing strong leadership of the National Safeguarding Team at a time of increasing demand and scrutiny.
“While there have been many safeguarding improvements in the past few years, we must be mindful we have not responded well to survivors and victims and that must be our priority.
“I would also like to thank Zena Marshall for her professional leadership of the Team over the past 18 months.”
Alexander is the son of Nigerian immigrants who came to the UK in the 1960’s. He was born and raised in Lambeth and attended school in South London. Alexander is a qualified social worker, practice leader and accomplished Director with over 21 years of experience in safeguarding.
He enjoys spending time with his wife, five children and chihuahua ‘Bentley.’ He has coached grass roots football for many years and is an integral part of his community.0 Comments
Simon Jenkins Ship of Fools On holiday with the Lord
Colin Coward Unadulterated Love LLF – Next Step Group bishops to hold meetings with interested groups
Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Wymondham Abbey Developments. Vicar resigns12 Comments
Fr Alan Griffin: Diocese of London publishes independent report and response
The independent review regarding Fr Alan Griffin has today been published by the Diocese of London. External safeguarding practitioner, Chris Robson, was commissioned following the coroner’s inquest in 2021 into Fr Alan’s death, to conduct a lessons learned review. This has been released in full, alongside the Diocese’s response.
Fr Alan Griffin became the Rector of St James Garlickhythe and St Andrew-by-the-Wardrobe in the City of London in 2001, in the Two Cities Area of the Diocese of London. He retired from the Church of England in 2011 and was ordained as a priest in the Roman Catholic Church in 2012. On 8th November 2020, Fr Alan died by suicide.
The Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally, said:
“I am profoundly sorry for all that Fr Alan Griffin endured and apologise unreservedly to his family and friends. Homophobia and bias, conscious or unconscious, have no place our Church – the culture has to change. It is heart-breaking to read of the failings that occurred in the lead-up to November 2020, dating back to the lack of understanding and proper pastoral care at the time of his HIV+ diagnosis and non-fatal suicide attempt in 2010.
“Chris Robson’s report clearly identifies our past mistakes, alongside the improvements which have since been made, and the areas where work is still required. I am grateful for his approach and honesty, and for the efforts of the Review Steering Group in informing our response. We owe it to Fr Alan Griffin to ensure what happened to him can never happen to anybody else.”
The Independent Reviewer, Chris Robson, said:
“I would ask that those who read the Review see it as a document that will help the Diocese of London and wider church to improve safeguarding practice. Those people I have spoken to at a senior level have recognised the issues raised in the review and I am encouraged by their response.
“Whilst it is very clear that improvements to practice are necessary, I acknowledge that significant progress has already been made. In particular, the Diocese has a strong leader in Bishop Sarah and I can see she is driving that positive change. It now requires collective effort across the entire diocese with new and improved practice being ‘lived and owned’ by the whole church community.
“I would like to thank those who spoke to me for their candidness, often during difficult and emotional interviews. I have been privileged to speak with representatives of the family and friends of Father Alan during this process. The dignity, honesty and patience they have shown has been remarkable given the circumstances and I thank them sincerely for the part they played in the review.
“Finally, when reading this Review, I would ask that you remember Father Alan Griffin, a much-loved man. It is important that lessons are learned from his death and everything possible is done to ensure these or similar circumstances are never repeated.”
The Diocesan response to the independent report’s recommendations sets out progress made to date and identifies the ongoing priority areas. These include the following, which will be scrutinized by the independently-chaired Diocesan Safeguarding Steering Group:
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Stephen Parsons Surviving Church The Testimony of Witnesses. How do we find the Truth in Safeguarding Cases?63 Comments
Press release from the Church of England
Standing Commission on the House of Bishops’ Declaration and the Five Guiding Principles
The Bishop of Lichfield, Michael Ipgrave, will chair the 12-strong Standing Commission on the House of Bishops’ Declaration and the Five Guiding Principles.
Alongside him, the members will include:
Establishing the Standing Commission was a key recommendation of the Implementation and Dialogue Group (IDG), a temporary body which reviewed the arrangements which were originally put in place in 2014, opening the episcopate to women as well as men while ensuring provision for those who, in theological conscience, could not accept their ministry.
More detail was set out in the IDG’s report to General Synod last year.
The Commission, appointed by the House of Bishops, will support dioceses with the monitoring of the implementation of the House of Bishops’ Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests.
Published ahead of the historic vote of the General Synod on women in the episcopate in July 2014, the Declaration sets out five guiding principles under which those in favour of the ordination of women and those who, on theological grounds, cannot fully accept the ordained ministry of women, can both flourish.7 Comments