Thinking Anglicans

Church apologises to a sexual abuse survivor

Updated again Monday afternoon

The Church of England has today released two documents:

This has been reported in the media:

Separately, the New York Times has this report on a different case: Doubts Grow Over Archbishop’s Account of When He Knew of Abuse.

Updates

EIG has issued a response to the above documents: Statement from Ecclesiastical Insurance Office plc .

The full text of EIG’s letter of reply to the Bishops is here.

Church Times Bishops challenge Ecclesiastical over ‘horse trading’ of survivor settlements

30
Leave a Reply

avatar
3000
30 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
11 Comment authors
CynthiaJanet FifeEric BonettiInterested ObserverT Pott Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest
Notify of
Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

Interesting timing. The NY Times publishes its article on Saturday 14 October. The CofE puts out this Gilo package on Sunday 15 October. The three bishops’ letter is dated a month ago, 14 September. (By the way, the three bishops’ letter may have been useful as a settlement/PR device or pastoral effort, but its suggestions are rather feckless.) I’m not seeing a date for the Archbishop’s letter, so I wonder whether it too could have been released before the Primates’ meeting, yet was not. And was this package released today because some other shoe is about to drop later this… Read more »

Janet Fife
Guest
Janet Fife

Some encouraging movement here on the part of these three bishops. Let’s hope the other bishops, the archdeacons, and diocesan staff undergo a similar enlightenment.

The response from Ecclesiastical come over as technically correct (as far as I can judge) but insensitive and somewhat defensive. Maybe they would be encouraged to a more caring attitude and positive approach by their other customers, as well as these three bishops?

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

Janet, an insurer is not in the business of providing pastoral care; that is the Church’s job. As for paying out claims–which is part of business of insurance — EIG seem to think that they paid out even though there was no evidence that they were providing coverage at the time: “In many historic abuse claims, there is no evidence of insurance coverage. We deal with issues such as this in the spirit of the Guiding Principles, and, even in cases where there is no documentary evidence that Ecclesiastical was the insurer, have chosen to accept liability. Mr. xxx’s claim… Read more »

Mark Bennet
Guest
Mark Bennet

There are a number of issues to deal with in relation to insurance, but they are certainly not unique to the Church – there are strong parallels in compensation for medical negligence, which I used to know quite a lot about. For example, the goal of compensation is stated as being “to put the injured person into the same situation as they would have been had they not been injured” or something similar. The underlying assumption, though, is that this can be done by paying money. Financial compensation takes the place of care, almost by default. The consequence is that… Read more »

Mark Bennet
Guest
Mark Bennet

Continuing from previous In the medical world we hear a lot about “ambulance chasers” and inflated claims, and how compensation is financially challenging in times of tight budgets. This is (for any truth it might have, and there are people who try to exploit compensation systems) an implied attack also on those who stand as advocates for the vulnerable, try to hold the line on at least making a reasonable effort to give financial settlements which get close to the rhetoric of full compensation – sometimes for catastrophically affected lives. The faults of the system are displaced onto those who… Read more »

Janet Fife
Guest
Janet Fife

Thank you Mark, for your thorough and reasoned response. Jeremy, I understand about the ethos and obligations of insurance companies. But Ecclesiastical is specifically a church-related company and as such should show concern for people as well as for their finances. Their letter of response was tone-deaf, it wouldn’t have taken overmuch to make it sound a bit more caring. As a consumer, I won’t deal with any company that doesn’t seem to care for its customers, and show a wider concern even that that. Every purchase we make, whether it’s an insurance policy or fair trade food, is a… Read more »

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

Well said, Mark Bennet.

I agree that there is a whiff of scapegoating around the bishops’ letter to EIG.

The bishops’ letter may have been a result of the mediation with Gilo. But the letter calls into question the CofE’s understanding of insurance, not to mention the law.

That a survivor wanted something does not make it any less ill advised.

T Pott
Guest
T Pott

The Guardian article says the archbishop wrote that he was aware that Gilo had been “in communication with me here at Lambeth Palace over a period of time. I am sorry that the way your correspondence was handled has not been helpful to you, and has not been to the standard you would expect”. Is this an apology? Ignoring 17 letters is not the standard Gilo would expect. But why, because he has unrealistic expectations, or because ignoring his letters was objectively wrong, or at least wrong in the Archbishop’s opinion? Again, the way the correspondence was handled was not… Read more »

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

“Ecclesiastical is specifically a church-related company and as such should show concern for people as well as for their finances.” I am no fan of insurers. And Janet, you and I agree far more often than we disagree. But on this point (1) how is EIG alleged not to have shown concern for the claimant? And (2) how can any such alleged shortfall be reconciled with EIG’s duties to its own stakeholders, including its other insureds? EIG is under a duty, like it or not, to be skeptical about claims, and to evaluate them carefully. I’m sure that process can… Read more »

Janet Fife
Guest
Janet Fife

Hi Jeremy. Yes, we usually agree, which the Psalmist tells us is as pleasant as oil being poured all over Aaron’s head and beard. (That has never sounded very pleasant to me, but never mind!) I think there are 2 points here. 1) The bishops’ letter pointed out that more information had emerged since the settlement was made, and therefore perhaps it should be revisited. 2) The tone of EI’s letter could have been such more helpful, even if they in fact took no different action. I hadn’t been aware until now that the ‘horse-trading’ of claims evaluation takes place… Read more »

Mark Bennet
Guest
Mark Bennet

There is insufficient material here to judge EIG’s actions – simply assertion and counter-assertion, though the insurer claims to have documentation to support what it says. It may be worth noting, though, that EIG suggest that they acted generously in relation to the Church, by assuming a liability for which there was no documented proof of cover. This is not the same as them acting generously in relation to the injured person, but that is not particularly the role of an insurer, whose contract (if it exists) is with the Church or one of its constituent legal entities. The Church… Read more »

Stephen Parsons
Guest
Stephen Parsons

As I understood last year, the problem for Gilo with the EIG was not the fact that they were not exercising pastoral sensitivity but that they were preventing others in doing so. Silence, apparently at the instruction of the insurers was what he and other survivors experienced. To quote a letter that Gilo wrote to me last June and which he gave permission to appear on my blog, Surviving Church the following was the problem. ‘Cover-ups, denials, obscuring of issues, intentional inertia, fog, smoke and mirrors, blanking of questions, unchallenged power of bishops, legal games, incestuous dependence on your own… Read more »

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

What the bishops describe as “horse trading” is settlement negotiation. Does any party accept the other side’s opening offer in a negotiation? Does any party in a negotiation fail to point out the weaknesses in the counter party’s position? Do the bishops have an alternative to propose that would settle as many cases privately, out of court? I would not necessarily infer that the claimant is present during the negotiations. The claimant’s counsel, however, should keep the claimant apprised of material aspects of the negotiation. It is, after all, the claimant’s decision whether to accept an insurer’s settlement offer. This… Read more »

Gordon Watson
Guest
Gordon Watson

More episcopal hot air, I’m afraid, and (speaking as a Cornishman and parishioner in the Diocese of Truro) I can see a particular set of episcopal fingerprints all over this. Style triumphs over substance yet again. A (no doubt) sincere attempt to meet the pastoral needs of an abuse survivor has been grasped as an opportunity for spin doctoring, and what seems like an uncritical endorsement of the compensation culture. The barely-concealed hypocrisy in pointing the finger at EIG simply will not do. It is just a variation on Archbishop Welby attacking the BBC over its safeguarding record. Beams and… Read more »

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

“Perhaps the Church could appoint a victim advocate who argued the case of the victims without their having to be present?” In general, the claimant does not have to be present during negotiations, and normally would not be. But the vast majority of insurance claims have no suggestion of also being therapeutic or indeed restorative: they are just, as Mark says, about money. Your solicitor deals with the time of work, the lost property, the “pain, suffering and loss of amenity”, and so on. The claimant _can_ be present, but normally there isn’t anything to be present at: such negotiations… Read more »

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

“A (no doubt) sincere attempt to meet the pastoral needs of an abuse survivor has been grasped as an opportunity for spin doctoring…” It’s not just spin doctoring; it’s worse than that. Here it seems that as a result of a mediation with a survivor, three bishops signed up to the project of publicly attacking an insurer and insinuating that the survivor’s lawyer did a poor job. The lawyer will likely choose not to dispute the client’s view of the matter. But the insurer is politely telling us that some of what the bishops are saying is provably false. To… Read more »

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

Gilo must be an amazing person.

T Pott
Guest
T Pott

“The Church could appoint a victim advocate” The victim usually has a solicitor, usually from a specialist firm for dealing with such cases, usually with a CFA (Claim Funding Agreement), colloquially known as “no-win no-fee”. The horse trading results from these solicitors claiming more, for the victim, and for themselves, than they are legally entitled to, and/or the insurer offering less. It isn’t charitable, in any sense. In the EIG submission to the IICSA there is a breakdown of the average payments showing 55% goes to the victim, 33% to his solicitors and 12% to EIGs solicitors. For every £1… Read more »

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

“We could spend almost twice as much on victims if we could eliminate the solicitors” So then the large, experienced insurance company deals with the lone, unsupported, legally naive claimant? What could possibly go wrong? Are you saying that as a condition of making a claim, people should have to disclaim their right to legal advice? Seriously? This is just magical thinking. The churches only accepted the reality of abuse when brave, articulate claimants were able to force them to the negotiating table. Previously, the churches hidden behind authority, power and money and told anyone who disagreed to (almost literally)… Read more »

Will Richards
Guest
Will Richards

A senior clergy person whispered something in my ear about this on Sunday, which has got me wondering. How many other bishops were asked to sign the letter to EIG, and declined Lambeth’s ‘invitation’ to do so?

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

“We could spend almost twice as much on victims if we could eliminate the solicitors”

Who is this “we” you are speaking for?

Whether a claimant retains a solicitor isn’t up to you, me, or the Church. That is the claimant’s decision, and no one else’s.

I’m always fascinated at how quick some people are to suggest that other people go without legal advice.

Vicki Zust
Guest
Vicki Zust

Indeed, the Church could, in fact, give twice as much or more to victims if the Church did without solicitors. Oh, wait, isn’t that what they meant?

T Pott
Guest
T Pott

@Interested Observer – Well, yes, obviously pitting a naïve claimant against an insurance company would not be an improvement. You have identified a worse system than now, but that doesn’t mean there cannot possibly be a better one. As to people signing disclaimers, I don’t know where that’s come from. But if a cheaper system can be devised involving professional mediation, or something else, as EIC seem to be suggesting, then surely it is worth considering. What that could be, I don’t know. Many non-liability claims are settled by independent assessors. @Jeremy, I was not speaking on behalf of anyone,… Read more »

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

Will Richards, why am I not surprised?

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

“But surely as a taxpayer , church collection contributor and insurance premium payer I can have an opinion as to who should pay for it.”

Oh right. So this is about denying equality of arms, so that legally sophisticated insurers can do over naive claimants. Lovely.

T Pott
Guest
T Pott

“so that legally sophisticated insures can do over naïve claimants” No, it is not about allowing insurance companies to do over claimants. Nobody, as far as I know, is advocating a system that would allow that. It might look as if it would be attractive to insurers, by allowing them to minimise claims, but it isn’t. The insurer wants a full and final settlement. This is simply not possible, no matter what anybody signs, if the claimant can subsequently allege he was misled or unfairly treated by the insurer. EIC allude to this in their letter to the bishops, when… Read more »

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

“neutral independent claims assessment” There’s no such thing. Purportedly “neutral” organisations spend a lot of time with the larger side, in this case the insurers. They get to know their people, their problems, their offices. The larger side employs people to liaise, and those people have nice expense accounts. There is a constant ebb and flow of people taking jobs across the divide. Meanwhile, the smaller side, in this case claimants, don’t know the ropes. They aren’t as articulate. Some of them might even not have degrees from our better universities, and live outside the Zone 3 (I know, it… Read more »

Eric Bonetti
Guest

My hope is that this move portends a greater understanding of the dynamics of abuse, something woefully lacking in the Episcopal Church here in the US. Specifically, if it doesn’t involve rape, mayhem or murder, the church far too often turns a blind eye. As a result, shunning, bullying and other forms of abuse go unchecked.

I can add that I know this from first-hand experience.

Janet Fife
Guest
Janet Fife

Eric Bonetti, I share your hope, but I fear an understanding of the dynamics of abuse (of all kinds) is still a long way off. As Stephen Parsons suggests, the Church desperately needs to understand the ways in which power operates for both good and ill – far too often, it is for ill. Until we are willing to look honestly at the way we exercise power, and its effect on the people we work with and serve, we are going to make very poor progress on many of our most challenging issues. The trouble is that those best placed… Read more »

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

“Renewal and Reform begins with putting our own house in order first – and that includes putting our money where our mouth is.”

Gordon Watson, you are a Christian radical! Calling the church to follow in the sacrificial ministry of Christ. Wow! Inspiring!