“Ten years ago I was approached about a safeguarding allegation regarding a priest. I was able to see the survivor and begin to hear what was a difficult and harrowing story. However, I was moving between roles at the time and although I did speak with colleagues about the actions that needed to be taken, I failed to ensure that these were properly documented and followed through in the way I would expect. Now that I have discovered that this incident was not followed up as it should have been, I am deeply distressed and extremely sorry. Because this has recently come to light, I am both thankful that it is being addressed properly now, but also mindful that in my new position as Archbishop of York it is absolutely essential that I am open and transparent about the need for the whole of our church to be scrupulously honest with each other about any failings in safeguarding.
“In the past, the Church of England has been too quick to protect its own reputation and slow to admit its failings. This must change. Those in public office should be subject to scrutiny. Good safeguarding is an absolute priority for the Church of England and for me personally.
“In the diocese of Chelmsford where I have served for the past 10 years, I have been helped by survivors I have worked with as well as a first rate safeguarding team to have a much greater understanding of why safeguarding itself is so important and how we must be prepared to confront our failings and learn from them. Therefore, although I am embarrassed that I did not follow this up as scrupulously as I should have done 10 years ago, I want to go on the record about what has happened in order to demonstrate a new spirit of openness and transparency over how we ensure that the church is as safe as it can be, that survivors are listened to and dealt with honestly, and perpetrators brought to justice.
Statement from Archbishop Justin
“I have been fully briefed on this matter and have read the independent legal advice. I have also spoken at length with Stephen. He clearly should have informed the authorities and made fuller notes of what he did in this case. He has shown humility in immediately admitting he failed to act as he should have done in this case, when the matter was raised with him by the NST this year. He has also said so publicly. I am also reassured that he did refer it on and saw the significance of offering support and contacting the survivor who must always be the priority. While I cannot comment further on this case, our IICSA hearings have shown the journey the Church is still on to be a safer place for all and I pray that this experience will strengthen his commitment to safeguarding and ministry as the Archbishop of York.
“I am looking forward to working with Stephen and we commit ourselves to continue to learn lessons and to recognise and accept we all need to be open and forthright in striving to make the church a safe place for all. This means listening to survivors and constantly examining our own actions and recognising our vulnerability as well as calling on all to demonstrate our commitment to care for all.”
Statement from National Safeguarding Team
“Concerns were referred to the National Safeguarding Team, NST, earlier this year about the handling of a case by Bishop Stephen 10 years ago after information came to light from a clergy file. The concerns raised were about the action taken following allegations of domestic abuse perpetrated by a parish priest. At the time Bishop Stephen responded to the survivor, offered support and subsequently referred the allegation within the diocese, but did not ensure the matter was referred to the statutory authorities or directly to the diocesan safeguarding adviser. The NST has now investigated the matter, taken independent advice and interviewed Bishop Stephen.
“He has shown insight and humility in accepting that he failed to act as he should have done in relation to a serious matter and acknowledged his own ability to fully recognise and respond to safeguarding concerns in 2010 was compromised by a lack of training and understanding, which he has subsequently sought to address.
“The NST investigation concluded that he posed no current risk of not responding appropriately to safeguarding disclosures and that informal action was a reasonable and proportionate response to the case.”
The Charity Commission has told both sides in the dispute at Christ Church, Oxford, to enter into a mediation process.
The Commission is concerned that the very protracted and public dispute between the College’s governing body and its Dean is damaging to the reputation of the charity, and affecting its ability to govern itself.
The situation risks harming the reputation of charity more generally, in the eyes of the public.
Both parties in this dispute have called on the Charity Commission to intervene further. However, any regulatory intervention can be effective only if relationships between all parties are stable. The Commission has therefore today told the parties to the dispute that it expects them to enter into formal mediation within a limited time frame, with a mediator selected by the Commission, and without delay.
Helen Stephenson, Charity Commission Chief Executive, said:
It is not our job, as charity regulator, to referee disputes. Our role is, instead, to ensure that charities are governed effectively, charitable funds are properly accounted for, and trust in charity is maintained. In these exceptional circumstances, we have told the parties to the dispute to enter mediation, without which it is difficult to resolve issues in the charity in any reasonable timescale.
The Commission will not comment further on the case until the mediation has been completed.
It has also asked both sides to refrain from public, or private, commentary whilst the mediation process takes place.
25 June 2020
The ongoing dispute between Christ Church and the Dean has undoubtedly gone on for far too long. Its impact on Christ Church’s daily life, its staff, students, teaching and research, all risk being affected without the prospect of a resolution. We were therefore delighted to learn at our meeting with the Charity Commission today that it has now agreed to intervene. For some time, we have sought to address the impasse through independent mediation, but that process was unfortunately put on hold earlier this year. We hope that the Dean responds quickly and positively to the Commission’s announcement and we look forward to attending the mediation it is facilitating as soon as possible.
Christ Church has published a statement on its website, now changed from the version published on 22 June.
It appears from this that the French authorities had made no contact with anyone in Oxford prior to the court’s decision. However, it has today been admitted by the college that Professor Joosten was one of the 41 signatories of the letter to the Charity Commission which the Church Timesdescribed as accusing Dr Percy of “sacrificing the best interests of Christ Church to his own”.
Sir, — In response to your report “C of E is ‘being used’ in campaign against Dean of Christ Church” (News, 19 June), I would like to point out that the National Safeguarding Team (NST) has no view about, and is not involved in, the wider issues relating to the College and the Dean.
When a referral is made alleging that a senior member of the clergy has not fulfilled his or her safeguarding responsibilities, the NST has a duty to consider the management of any safeguarding risk. In this case, an independent safeguarding person has been asked to investigate and report back.
As I am sure your readers would agree, the Church must take all safeguarding issues very seriously, and all this is being done in accordance with the House of Bishops guidelines. For reference, the Dean of Christ Church is a “Church officer” within the definition contained in the House of Bishops practice guidance.
There is no agenda behind this and we hope that with the cooperation of all concerned this matter can be concluded quickly.
THE Church of England is being “dragged into a vendetta” against the Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, the Very Revd Professor Martyn Percy, General Synod members have been told.
In a letter circulated last week to other Synod members, David Lamming and Martin Sewell characterise the investigation by the National Safeguarding Team (NST) — initiated after a complaint lodged by the Senior Censor, Professor Geraldine Johnson, and others (News, 29 May) — as an abuse of the C of E’s processes by “well-connected persons”…
This letter is currently being circulated to members of General Synod of the Church of England, in advance of their virtual meeting in July. There will be two Q&A sessions, and it is hoped that this summary of the situation will encourage Synod members to look carefully into the way the Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, is being appallingly treated – not only by the Governing Body of the College, but also now by the National Safeguarding Team of the Church of England.
The authors, lawyers Martin Sewell and David Lamming, have worked tirelessly on the chronic mishandling of the Bishop George Bell case, and it is profoundly disappointing to see many of the problems identified by the Carlile Report seemingly replicated in the case now being considered against Prof Martyn Percy…
The following statement was issued in response to requests from the BBC and Channel 4 news on 17 June 2020.
A planned independent review into the Church of England’s handling of allegations against the late John Smyth QC is currently underway. In the course of that review, new information has come to light regarding Lord Carey, which has been passed to the National Safeguarding Team for immediate attention as per the agreed Terms of Reference for the review.
A Core Group was formed, according to House of Bishops Guidance, and it advised the Rt Revd Dr Steven Croft, Bishop of Oxford, to withdraw Lord Carey’s Permission to Officiate (PTO) while the matter is investigated.
Lord Carey’s PTO was revoked by the Bishop of Oxford on Wednesday 17 June. Lord Carey is currently unauthorised to undertake any form of ministry in the Diocese until further notice.
While the investigation and review are ongoing, we will not be commenting further on this matter. However, for the avoidance of doubt, we wish to make clear that the new information received relates only to the review currently underway, and that there has not been an allegation of abuse made against Lord Carey.
Notes for editors:
In the wake of Dame Moira Gibb’s review, Lord Carey stood down from the role of Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of Oxford in June 2017, and withdrew from public ministry for a season. Lord Carey accepted the criticisms made of him at the time and apologised to the victims of Peter Ball.
In February 2018 Lord Carey contacted the Diocese of Oxford to request PTO (permission to officiate). Following senior legal opinion, PTO was granted by the Bishop of Oxford later the same month to allow Lord Carey to undertake his priestly ministry at the church where he worships. The granting of PTO was conditional on no further concerns coming to light.
As with all granting of PTO’s, Lord Carey was subject to a fresh DBS check and appropriate safeguarding training at the time.
“I am bewildered and dismayed to receive the news a short time ago that due to ‘concerns’ being raised during the review of John Smyth QC I have had my PTO revoked. I have been given no information on the nature of these ‘concerns’ and have no memory of meeting Mr Smyth. In 2018 the National Safeguarding Team and the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury invited me to meet with them to arrange safeguarding training and facilitate a meeting with survivors of Peter Ball’s abuse. They have failed to deliver action on either of these matters which were the subject of mutually agreed action. As a result, I have little confidence in their ability to pursue a proper investigation.”
According to Anglican Ink, the statement from Lord Carey as reported above is incomplete. Their report has an additional sentence:
“As a result, I have little confidence in their ability to pursue a proper investigation. I understand from the testimony of victims and survivors of clerical abuse that this lack of confidence is widely shared.”
…Another question that is being asked by many of us is this. If Martyn Percy deserved investigation over safeguarding issues with apparently such flimsy evidence being offered, then why not are other more pressing cases given attention? There are several outstanding CDM claims against serving bishops which lie on file. Presumably these can now be activated by victims and complainants? There is the case of Jonathan Fletcher which seems to be ignored by central church authorities, even though it reached front-page headlines of the Daily Telegraph. If the allegations against Fletcher are even half-true, he still poses a safeguarding threat which should be a priority for the NST. To focus on Martyn, who poses no such threat, and ignore Fletcher can only be described as a deeply political choice.
Unless someone explains the real basis for NST involvement in the Christ Church factional disputes, Martyn’s supporters will conclude that the NST has become a political tool at the service of certain unaccountable factions within the Church of England. If that surmise is correct, one would hope that the General Synod would wake up to this fact and vote the NST out of existence. We cannot afford to have a rogue structure within the Church which operates with so much secrecy, factionalism and sometimes overt bullying. Whoever authorised the unleashing of the NST on Martyn Percy has been responsible for taking an enormous gamble with the Church’s assets and reputation. They have gambled on an outcome which, even if successful at one level, does no credit to the Church. If the anonymous power brokers are, however, unsuccessful in what they are doing in Oxford, this may have the effect of destroying the NST structure altogether and their future ability to exercise power through it.
Christ Church has suffered losses of more than £3m in bequests and donations due to an ongoing “farce” over the Dean’s tenure, it is claimed.
A row between the Oxford college’s governing body and the Very Rev Martyn Percy has become increasingly bitter, fuelled by accusations that the latter’s critics will stop at nothing to have him deposed.
Rev Jonathan Aitken, one of Dr Percy’s allies, has now claimed that the dispute is costing the college dearly, not just in legal fees and tribunal costs but also in lost donations as alumni take action to make their voices heard.
He accused the Censors, dons who take on responsibility for the academic life of the college, of becoming “financial alcoholics” who could not stop pouring away the charitable funds of the college on legal fees.
“The failed coup and the continuing attacks by the Censors and their allies on the Dean have been a financial catastrophe for Christ Church,” he told the Telegraph.
“The majority of the governing body have not been told what the costs are and do not know, to the nearest million, what they might be.
“But as a conservative estimate, legal bills are already in excess of £2.5m.”
Here’s an extract (but do read the whole article):
…But more disturbingly, I have heard on good authority and am aware that others have also heard, that at a recent Governing Board of the college, one of the senior college figures boasted to the Trustees “the wily Censors have made sure they complained to the right part of the National Safeguarding Team”. If true, both ends of that statement are extraordinary. I don’t know if the NST are aware of this. I don’t imagine so. There would be an outcry across the Church if the NST had been complicit in their own ugly appropriation. It would raise questions about who is controlling different bits of this structure, and in particular who is pulling the strings of the “right part” of the National Safeguarding Team. I suspect Synod members would throw their hands up in horror and ask: how the hell does one rescue a Church’s national safeguarding so far down a road of ethical dysfunctionality?
But this core group sets an interesting precedent. Quite a few Church of England Bishops have been accused of safeguarding failings, cover up, poor response or no response towards survivors, gaslighting, blanking and fogging, dishonesty – yet how many have had core groups convened about them by the National Safeguarding Team? It would now seem that a complaint from a single source against a senior church officer is no longer time-limited, but will result in the formation of a core group on which the complainant can be personally represented. The person under investigation will presumably be asked to step aside from safeguarding responsibilities during the investigation. Although the circumstances in which this has come about are ugly and point to church officialdom targeting a well-known critic – the situation has unexpected potential for survivors. There are a significant number of survivors who have credible and legitimate claims that serving bishops have mishandled disclosures of abuse or have been dishonest in their response. We might welcome the opportunity to have core groups established, and to have complaints acted upon at last. I suspect the number of bishops who could feasibly be asked to stand down through such action might be surprising…
Again, you need to read the whole article, but here’s a taster
…a few weeks ago Professor Biggar received a letter from the College’s lawyers on behalf of the Governing Body, demanding that the McDonald Centre remove all references to Christ Church from its website, including the Centre’s logo, which has the appearance of the famous Tom Tower. The request was effectively to sever all association between the McDonald Centre and Christ Church.
It is curious, after more than a decade of harmonious scholarship and manifest fraternal accord, that that the Governing Body or ‘Censors’ of Christ Church would seek suddenly to censor this academic relationship. Curious, that is, until you consider that Nigel Biggar has been vocal and very public in his defence of Dean Martyn Percy, who is currently being bullied out of his job by a faction of Censors. Having failed to tarnish him with “conduct of an immoral, scandalous or disgraceful nature“, they have now turned for assistance to the Church of England to try and oust him for “a consistent lack of moral compass“…
Safeguarding data has been published today taken from annual safeguarding returns, collected by dioceses in 2018 and sent to the National Safeguarding Team. It also contains comparison on data collected over the three previous years 2015-17.
The majority of safeguarding-related concerns or allegations relate to children or vulnerable adults who attend or who have contact with the Church and their lives within the community.
Overall the number of concerns or allegations reported to dioceses in 2018 relating to children, young people and vulnerable adults in the Church was 2,504. This compares to 3287 in 2017, and is slightly higher than 2015 and slightly lower than 2016.
A quarter of concerns or allegations in 2018 required reporting to statutory authorities similar to 2017.
In 2018, 16% of all concerns (400 cases) relate to clergy, including retired and deceased clergy, a slight increase on the average for 2015-17 which was around 12%. There are currently around 20,000 active clergy in the Church.
Safeguarding-related disciplinary measures against clergy decreased in 2018 and combined with the increase in reports against clergy this suggests that more concerns are being raised earlier because there are greater overall numbers of reports but lower numbers of disciplinary cases.
The Bishop of Manchester, David Walker, a member of the National Safeguarding Steering Group, said:
“In any report about data of this nature, it is important to recognise that behind each statistic are real human lives and that this is a snapshot of the vital safeguarding work going on in all our 16,000 churches across the country. As the report states it is most likely that where there is an increase compared to previous years this reflects the impact of safeguarding training across the whole Church, and the increased likelihood that people will report concerns to their diocesan safeguarding adviser, where there may have been greater reticence in the past. The NST will continue to study trends over a longer period to inform its ongoing safeguarding work and has committed to publishing data on an annual basis.”
…In 2018, the Dean cited past safeguarding concerns reported to him as evidence that the college’s procedures were inadequate. Earlier this year, the Church of England’s National Safeguarding Team set up a core group to examine the Dean’s handling of those concerns.
The latest issue of Private Eye reports that two members of that core group are complainants from the college, including the Senior Censor, Professor Geraldine Johnson. A C of E spokesperson said on Wednesday: “As at any core group, safeguarding leads from relevant bodies or institutions were invited to share information to work out a way forward; in this case from the Cathedral, the College, the Cathedral school, and the diocese.”
The Dean is not formally represented on the core group, though he has been sent its terms of reference.
The spokesperson emphasised: “The core group has never asked the Dean to stand down — he was asked to abide by certain conditions.”
Archbishop Cranmer has a comprehensive report on the latest horrific developments at Christ Church, Oxford here:
Two letters in the Telegraph (scroll down to “Row over Oxford dean”) from Brian Martin and Jimmy James
Another letter in The Times which you can read here.
A letter to Baroness Stowell, Chair of the Charity Commission, signed by 60 persons, has been released. See the PDF copy for the list of signatories (full disclosure: I am one). The text of the letter is copied below.
Dear Lady Stowell
You recently received a letter from some individual trustees of Christ Church Oxford making a series of allegations against their Dean, the Very Revd Professor Martyn Percy.
We wish to express our confidence in Martyn Percy. We know him in our various capacities, as a man of consistently good character, an exceptional scholar, a respected public servant, and an outstanding Christian leader.
We do not speculate on the reasons why some members of the Governing Body of Christ Church wish to go to such extreme lengths to destroy the reputation of their Dean and to break his spirit. But we do know that :
The recent letter is the latest episode in a sustained campaign against the Dean led by senior members of the college Governing Body since his appointment.
The specific allegations against Martyn Percy have changed over time, but each allegation has been disproved. In August of last year Dean Percy was wholly exonerated after an extensive investigation by Sir Andrew Smith, a retired High Court judge.
The signatories of the letter are far from objective. Several of them were revealed by Sir Andrew to have employed devious methods and offensive language in their efforts to break his resolve, and some will be parties to an Employment Tribunal tobe heard next year.
The grievances in the letter are a set of untested and gratuitous assertions for which no evidence is provided.
The insinuation that Dean Percy personally represents a safeguarding risk is abhorrent and wholly unjustified.
The suggestion that he “lacks a moral compass” is so far from the truth as to be laughable, were it not so insulting.
We believe that Martyn Percy is a victim of gross injustice and malice. We wish to see this damaging business resolved justly, and with the minimum delay, so that he can continue to exercise his gifts in leading Christ Church.
John Smyth review – timing of publication
The Learning Lessons Review, commissioned by the Church of England, into its handling of the allegations of abuse committed by the late John Smyth continues to be delivered according to the terms of reference. To ensure the review is as comprehensive as possible and that the large volume of information submitted can be fully studied, completion is now expected into 2021. This timeframe will also allow for any impact the COVID-19 restrictions may have on the review’s day to day workings.
The review, led by Keith Makin and supported by Sarah Lawrence, has to date focussed on engagement with victims and survivors who have bravely provided invaluable and full accounts of the abuse. In addition, the reviewers have continued to receive contact from individuals and organisations wishing to submit accounts and written materials of vital interest. This has been wider than could have been anticipated when the review began.
It should be noted that the reviewers continue to welcome any further submissions from victims and survivors who have yet to come forward along with other individuals or organisations that wish to participate. Contact details below.
The terms of reference suggested a timeline for completion of the review within nine months from commencing in October 2019 (having been announced in August). Progress updates have been held at regular intervals since then between the National Director of Safeguarding and the reviewers.
Work has been taking place to ensure cooperation between parallel reviews being delivered by organisations listed in the terms of reference. This is to ensure appropriate, safe and legal information sharing takes place to protect confidentiality of victims while at the same time ensuring minimal impact on individuals in terms of repeating their traumatic and damaging experiences of abuse.
The Covid-19 crisis will undoubtedly have some impact on the review process and timeline although virtual meetings are being used where possible.
Keith Makin, Independent Lead Reviewer said: “Sarah and I have been privileged to speak to many brave victims and survivors as part of this review process so far and would like to thank those people for their most valuable accounts of the terrible psychological and physical abuse experienced at the hands of John Smyth.
We know the delay in completion will be a great frustration for all those involved but we are absolutely committed to making this review as comprehensive and thorough as possible to ensure lessons are learnt.
To do this properly, I have asked for more time to allow Sarah and I to continue to meet with individuals and analyse the evidence submitted. The Church has agreed that this additional time will be time well spent and vital for the Church’s safeguarding learning.”
In response Andrew Graystone has released the following.
Church of England announces further delay to Smyth Review
The Church of England has announced a further delay to the publication of its review of abuse by John Smyth QC. The church says that the review, which was originally scheduled for publication next month, will now be completed in “early 2021” and published some time later. The postponement, which was announced on the Church of England’s website, is the second time that the date has been put back.
The first announcement of a review was made by the Lead Bishop for Safeguarding Peter Hancock on the day of Smyth’s death in August 2018. It was a further 12 months before a reviewer was appointed, and Terms of Reference were announced in August 2019. At that stage the review was expected to last nine months. The church later revised the Terms of Reference to accommodate the fact that work on the review had not started until October 2019.
In a note to some victims yesterday, the reviewer Keith Makin said that “The response from victims and survivors as well as many other interested parties and organisations to our request for information has been immense. The timescale change reflects this as we continue to receive new lines of enquiry to investigate along with vast amounts of written materials and individual accounts.” He said that the difficulties caused by Covid-19 are not currently a factor in the timing of the review.
Victims’ advocate Andrew Graystone said “This review is the last opportunity for Smyth’s victims to receive some form of justice, so the additional delay will be difficult for them. Hopefully it is a sign that the Church of England is coming to terms with the scale of abuse, and the extent to which it is embedded in the church.”
If the review is completed in 2021 it will be almost a decade since the abuse was first reported to the Church of England, and almost forty years since it was first brought to the attention of the Iwerne Trust. Parallel reviews into John Smyth’s abuse are being conducted by Winchester College and Scripture Union. The experts conducting those reviews were not informed in advance of the decision to extend the Church of England’s review.
Anglican Inkreports that the Rev Simon Austen, the Titus Trust chairman, resigned on 9 April 2020. According to this “A spokeswoman for Mr Austen at the St Leonard’s Church office said the reason for his resignation as chairman of the Titus Trust was that he ‘intended to serve in this capacity for two years and has now come to the end of his term of office’.”
Law and Religion UK bring a lot of useful background links together here.
There has been some confusion about the statement published by Titus Trust on 3rd April 2020 responding to the settlement of claims by three victims of John Smyth. I hope these facts will clarify the situation.
John Smyth’s known victims currently number in excess of 110. The Titus Trust has settled with just three of them. The three men initiated a civil action because, after several years of being blanked and ignored by the trust, they felt that this was the only way to force the trust to confront its responsibilities.
In response, the Titus Trust has spent well in excess of £100,000 in legal fees defending the civil claim. This is many times the amount that the claimants will receive in settlement. In addition, the trust has retained one of the most expensive secular Public Relations consultancies in the UK to manage their profile. The Titus Trust had an income of £1,934,000 last year, of which £1,078,000 was donations.
The three claimants were given no prior sight of the statement, which was released by the Titus Trust without warning on a Friday evening, 3rd April 2020.
The Titus Trust statement, and the settlement itself, contains no admission of liability or involvement in Smyth’s abuse, no reference to the involvement of key members of the Iwerne network in arranging Smyth’s removal to Africa, no acknowledgement of his continuing abuse there over three decades, and no reference to the covering-up of Smyth’s abuse since it was disclosed in 1982. Indeed, the settlement repeats several times their assertion that the Titus Trust was not and is not responsible in any way for Smyth’s abuse. This is in spite of the fact that there is a significant continuity in activities, personnel and culture between Titus Trust and its predecessor. In terms of apology, all that the statement says is, “We are sorry that the Titus Trust’s earlier public statements were inadequate as explanations of the relevant facts and history and that some of the language the Trust has used in public statements about these matters has prompted anger on the part of some survivors and others.” They are sorry for their language.
The Titus Trust continues to maintain that the Iwerne camps network was the responsibility of the Scripture Union.
Reviews and inquiries
The Titus statement describes three “actions” that they say that have taken, or are taking, in response to the revelations of abuse by John Smyth.
i) A full independent review of safeguarding practices
A review was conducted in 2018 by the reputable independent safeguarding consultancy thirtyone:eight. It examined safeguarding on camps and activities currently run by the trust. Titus Trust has not published this review. The trust is within its rights to keep such a review confidential, though in the circumstances it might have helped public confidence if it had been published.
Their statement of April 2020 says that “among other things, [the review] has included receiving training in pastoral care and supporting survivors of abuse.” It is not clear what this means, since I am not aware that any survivor of abuse has received any pastoral care or support from the trust. The three men who brought the civil action against Titus Trust have received no contact from the trust at all since the abuse became public knowledge.
ii) An internal Cultural Review
The statement says that “an internal Cultural Review has been carried out that considered aspects of our traditions and practices.” No information about this review has been published. This review was not conducted by thirtyone:eight. It is not clear what aspects of culture this review covered, who conducted it, what was concluded, or what if anything has changed.
iii) An independent Cultural review
The statement says that “an independent Cultural Review will begin shortly” that will “enable us to look honestly at our culture and its impact on individual behaviour.” This review has not yet taken place, and no information about it has been published. It is not clear what it will cover, what form it will take, who will conduct it, when it will take place, or whether it will be published.
The statement also makes reference to “the Review into John Smyth led by Keith Makin.” This review was announced by the Church of England in August 2018, commissioned in August 2018 and begun in October 2019. The Makin Review was originally due to be completed by April 2020, but this was put back to June 2020. The current best estimate is that it may be complete by early Summer 2021.
The Makin Review is one of three inquiries currently being conducted into the abuse by John Smyth. Clearly the existence of three separate reviews is far from ideal, and causes additional suffering to the victims. It became necessary to conduct separate reviews because The Titus Trust refused to cooperate with one overall review when it was first proposed, insisting that they had no connection with John Smyth. Smyth was the chair of the Iwerne Trust, which was the predecessor of the Titus Trust.
More recently the Titus Trust has agreed to cooperate with the Makin inquiry, the civil claimants having made that a condition of the settlement of their claim. We cannot yet know what the extent of that cooperation will be. The Titus Trust is not conducting its own review into the activities of John Smyth.
In addition to the well-publicised abuse by John Smyth, there have been at least four other corroborated instances of abuse against boys and young men by members of the Iwerne network. Others are under investigation.
Victims of John Smyth continue to believe that the Titus Trust should close.
The Titus Trust published this statement yesterday:
John Smyth: statement on settlement
The Trustees of The Titus Trust wish to make this statement now that a settlement has been reached with three men who have suffered for many years because of the appalling abuse of John Smyth.
We are devastated that lives have been blighted by a man who abused a position of trust and influence to inflict appalling behaviour on others, and we have written to those concerned to express our profound regret at what happened and also to apologise for any additional distress that has been caused by the way The Titus Trust has responded to this matter.
The emergence of details about the abuse by John Smyth and Jonathan Fletcher has caused us to reflect deeply on our current culture and the historic influences upon us. Although the culture of the camps that The Titus Trust runs today has changed significantly from the Scripture Union camps of the late 70s and early 80s we still want to look hard at our traditions and practices and to invite feedback from those currently involved and also those who are no longer involved.
This reflection includes a number of elements and has led, or is leading to, the following actions:
A full independent review of our safeguarding practices took place in 2018 by thirtyone:eight and the recommendations have been implemented in 2019 to ensure that we operate best practice across all our camps to protect the children and adults involved in our activities. Among other things, this has included receiving training in pastoral care and supporting survivors of abuse.
An internal Cultural Review has been carried out that considered aspects of our traditions and practices and identified risks to and ways of building healthy cultures across our leaders teams.
An independent Cultural Review will begin shortly which will include inviting feedback from a wide range of individuals and organisations to enable us to look honestly at our culture and its impact on individual behaviour.
The Trustees regret that we have not been able to speak out while the legal situation has been ongoing and want to take the opportunity now to listen well to people’s experiences of our camps to inform our future planning. We would therefore invite anyone who would like to share their experience to email email@example.com. If anyone wishes to contribute to the forthcoming Cultural Review, we invite them to be in touch too, so we can pass their details to the review team once their work gets underway.
We are sorry that the Titus Trust’s earlier public statements were inadequate as explanations of the relevant facts and history and that some of the language the Trust has used in public statements about these matters has prompted anger on the part of some survivors and others. We recognise the impact that this guarded use of language has caused, and apologise if this has contributed in any way to the anguish experienced by the survivors and their families.
The Titus Trust is co-operating fully with the Review into John Smyth led by Keith Makin. Extensive documentation has been provided to the Reviewers and the Trust has met with them and expects to do so again to further assist in the Review. 3/4/20
Statement from victims of the Titus Trust and John Smyth QC
4th April 2020
We call for the Titus Trust to cease its activities immediately, and to disband.
Yesterday the Titus Trust issued a statement following the settlement of three civil claims in respect of abuse by John Smyth QC. The statement comes no less than eight years after a victim of Smyth bravely came forward to inform the trust of the appalling legacy of abuse upon which their organisation is built. It is an astonishing 38 years since the leaders of the Iwerne network were first made aware of the criminal nature of this horrific abuse.
When the abuse came to light, the trustees of the Titus Trust, who now run the Iwerne network, did everything they could to protect their own interests. They did not offer care and support to the victims. They refused to cooperate with an independent inquiry. If the Titus Trust had been open and transparent with what they knew years ago, John Smyth could have been brought to justice. Instead they repeatedly blanked the victims, refusing to speak with us and denying any responsibility. Perhaps we should not have expected them to act with care or candour, since some of most senior members of the network had been complicit in concealing the abuse for 38 years.
In the face of this intransigence we felt compelled to take action against the Titus Trust, so that they would be forced to confront their responsibilities. Even so, the trust has spent eye-watering sums of money fighting our claims – many times the amount they have offered us in settlement. We are pleased that they have finally issued a limited apology for their recent behaviour, but we note that none of those responsible has resigned. They have not acknowledged the historic cover-up. There is no evidence that the culture of moral superiority, exclusivity and secrecy that has pervaded the network for decades has changed in any way.
Those of us who suffered as victims of John Smyth through our contacts with the Iwerne network simply want to uncover the truth. We want an accurate narrative of the abuse and its cover-up, not just for our own sakes, but for the sake of scores of victims of Smyth in Africa, and for the sake of those young people who even today come under the toxic influence of this network. John Smyth is only one of several abusers known to us who have been closely associated with the Iwerne camps network over many years. Events of recent years lead us to believe that there are still some within the Titus network who value their own reputations more than they care about the children they work with. Shockingly, some of those are ordained clergy in the Church of England. Such attitudes should have no place in any organisation working with children.
The Titus Trust has consistently said that they were not prepared to take part in the Church of England’s Makin Review into John Smyth whilst litigation was outstanding. Now that this settlement has been reached, that excuse is gone, and we urge the trustees and all those involved in the Iwerne network to cooperate fully with the Makin Review, and the other reviews being held into abuse by John Smyth and Jonathan Fletcher.
A culture that has resisted reform in the face of overwhelming evidence of damage over many years is beyond reform. It is our wholehearted belief that in the light of these events the Titus Trust and its work should cease immediately.
To those within and beyond the Titus/Iwerne network who have come to understand that they too are victims of abuse, we urge you to take courage and seek help outside the network.
Issued on behalf of victims of the Titus Trust and John Smyth QC
For more information, contact Andrew Graystone
A complaint under the Clergy Discipline Measure against the Dean of Lincoln, Christine Wilson, made by the national director of safeguarding has now been determined by the Bishop of Sheffield. The complaint related to the way in which the Dean dealt with a safeguarding disclosure made to her.
The Bishop took into account that the Dean had admitted misconduct and had expressed genuine regret in not immediately following the correct process when handling and reporting the disclosure that was made to her. He also took into account that she had agreed to undergo further safeguarding training.
On that basis, and with the Dean’s consent, the Bishop directed that the matter was to be recorded conditionally and remain on the record for four years (“conditional deferment”). The result is that if another complaint is made against the Dean, the conditionally deferred complaint may also be proceeded with together with the new complaint.
During consideration of the complaint, the Dean had voluntarily stepped back from exercising ministry.
Melissa Caslake, national director of safeguarding, said: “The Church takes all safeguarding issues very seriously and it is vital lessons are learnt, and in this case further training undertaken, when our policies and procedures are not followed, to ensure the Church is a safer place for all.”
The following is a joint statement from the Acting Bishop of Lincoln and the Dean of Lincoln
A complaint under the Clergy Discipline Measure against the Dean of Lincoln, the Very Revd Christine Wilson, made by the national director of safeguarding, regarding how a safeguarding allegation was reported, has been determined by the Bishop of Sheffield.
The majority of the complaint has been upheld and it was determined to be out of character and unlikely to be repeated. The dean has completed further safeguarding training and is now returning to ministry in the Cathedral and the Diocese.
Dean Christine Wilson says she has learnt important lessons in responding well to survivors and understands the importance of making apologies when the church gets things wrong. She is looking forward to resuming ministry in the Cathedral, serving the city and the county.
The Acting Bishop of Lincoln, the Right Reverend Dr David Court is aware of a range of issues that have been raised with him that are connected to the life of the Cathedral. Therefore, he is planning to initiate a Bishop’s Visitation and will issue a fuller statement on this within the next week.
SENIOR members of Christ Church, Oxford, have been accused of “weaponising” the suffering of abuse victims in a further attempt to oust the Dean, the Very Revd Dr Martyn Percy.
On Wednesday of last week, a message accusing the Dean of safeguarding lapses was posted on the college website (News, 6 March). Dr Percy issued an instant rebuttal. (Elements of his rebuttal were then challenged by lawyers working for the college.)
The Diocesan Canon Precentor, the Revd Dr Grant Bayliss, has written to all members of the Governing Body to object to the message, which was circulated to the press by the PR firm Luther Pendragon. Canon Bayliss, who is not a member of the Governing Body, has filed a complaint against the small “press group” at the college responsible for the rushed and “staggeringly inadequate” consultation process on Wednesday of last week, when the safeguarding statement was posted on the college website.
He goes on: “I find the fact that no comment or mitigating defence from the Dean was included in the House statement bewildering. . . Moreover, how is it that our website has still not been updated with the Dean’s response, and that its existence is only evident in the Guardian and Church Times?”
He concludes by considering the view that the safeguarding statement was an “intentional attack” on the Dean. “Like some colleagues, I have spent many hours supporting and counselling victims of abuse and violent crime, and to ‘weaponize’ such suffering in any way is beneath contempt…”
…In response [to the latest Christ Church statement], Dr Percy issued a statement on Wednesday afternoon denying the accusation and citing a police statement. He writes: “For the avoidance of doubt, the Dean dealt correctly with three historic cases of reported sexual assault in the academic year 2016-17, and the information on these were shared with the appropriate college officers at the time. One of these individuals had already made a report to the police, which was already known to the college officers concerned.
“A fourth historic disclosure was made by an individual who had never reported the matter to the police, and only agreed to talk about the alleged assault on the condition that there was no further disclosure. Their position of this individual has not changed.
“No person making a disclosure was still a minor — all were over 21. Three of the cases took place before 2014, prior to the Dean taking up office. None of alleged perpetrators posed a safeguarding risk.”
The Dean goes on to state that, in 2017, he raised concerns that college officers were ignorant of their safeguarding duties, and were untrained, something borne out by an email from Professor Johnson at the time, quoted in The Times.
Updated Monday; updated again Tuesday, and again Wednesday (scroll down)
We last reported on this long-running saga on 16 February. Today The Times carries a lengthy article by Andrew Billen which contains a great deal more detail, and names of individuals involved, than any previous report. You will need to register with the website to read this. It’s well worth the trouble.
…It is the story of how a professor at Christ Church blew the whistle on an archaic and inadequate safeguarding regime that had failed her, and claims of how a cabal of academics conspired first to thwart and then delay his proposed reforms before working to remove him from office. The whistleblower was not a junior employee, a naive young don, but the head of the college, the dean of Christ Church himself, the Very Rev Professor Martyn Percy…
There has been a clear attempt, through the media, to disrupt the ongoing mediation process that the Governing Body is funding to resolve the current dispute with the Dean. Confidential legal information has been leaked and presented in a deliberately-misleading fashion, aimed at damaging the reputation of Christ Church and a number of its former and current trustees. This account of the dispute is simply not true. Even in the light of such pressure, we remain committed to the mediation.
There is categorically no link between safeguarding and the complaint over pay initiated by the Dean. Christ Church is focused on providing a safe environment for all, and to giving safeguarding the highest importance. Christ Church has been reviewing its safeguarding processes over the last three years and we are confident that all relevant policies met statutory requirements throughout the period in question.
Legal advice has been provided to trustees and officers, acting on behalf of Christ Church, throughout the dispute with the Dean. Those trustees and officers are, and always have been, committed to working for the good of Christ Church. In December 2019, a vote of no confidence was put to the Governing Body. 38 voted that they had no confidence in the Dean, with only 2 against the motion. Frustrations conveyed about the Dean, exacerbated by the dispute over his pay, have also in the past been expressed in some private emails – however, again, none of these related to safeguarding matters.
Mediation with the Dean, funded by Christ Church, is due to continue next week. We very much hope that we can find a way forward through this process.
The headline in the paper edition reads: Don’t read it! Oxford college tries to silence defence of dean.
…On Sunday evening all 60 members of the governing body of Christ Church were emailed an unredacted copy of the judgment delivered in secret last summer by Sir Andrew Smith, a retired High Court judge.
The emailed copy was sent by the Rev Jonathan Aitken, the former cabinet minister who was once an undergraduate at the college…
…Within half an hour of Mr Aitken sending his email, Geraldine Johnson, the senior Governing Body member …wrote: Please immediately delete the email from Mr Aitken… It is extremely important that we retain our united front on this matter…
Do read the full article if you can. There is also a letter to the editor from Jonathan Aitken.
On 7 February 2020, we received a media enquiry regarding the two Employment Tribunal claims, which the Dean has lodged against Christ Church. This included an allegation that a former student had been sexually assaulted during their time at Christ Church, whilst still a minor. Upon further investigation, it is apparent that this allegation was disclosed to the Dean, but never reported by him to the police, the local authority designated officer, Christ Church’s safeguarding officers, or the Church of England’s safeguarding officer.
This allegation has now been reported to the police. Internal investigations have subsequently raised serious concerns about the Dean’s handling of four separate matters reported to him. All relate to allegations of sexual abuse or assault, two involving a minor. On legal advice, we have also made a report to the Church of England’s National Safeguarding Office, and they have opened an investigation.
There is no implication whatsoever that the Dean himself has been involved in any form of sexual misconduct.
Protecting our students, pupils, staff, and all those who live, work, or study at Christ Church is our highest priority. We are assisting the Church of England and the police in their enquiries, and we are putting in place measures to ensure that our safeguarding obligations continue to be met.
Christ Church’s Governing Body is fully committed to safeguarding and has robust policies and processes in place. Our thoughts are with any survivors of abuse affected by this news. If anyone requires immediate support, they should contact Christ Church or the police.
New Lead Safeguarding Bishop and Deputy Announced
The Bishop of Huddersfield, Jonathan Gibbs has been announced as the Church of England’s new lead safeguarding bishop, taking over from Bishop Peter Hancock, the Bishop of Bath and Wells who leaves the role at the end of February.
Bishop Jonathan, a member of the House of Bishops, will be supported by the Bishop of Southampton, Debbie Sellin, as deputy lead safeguarding bishop.
Bishop Jonathan and Bishop Debbie will work closely with the national director of safeguarding Melissa Caslake, who took up the role six months ago, along with the all members of the National Safeguarding Team as they continue to develop the Church’s safeguarding practice. Bishop Jonathan will chair the National Safeguarding Steering Group, the delegated House of Bishops body responsible for making national safeguarding decisions.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby said: “We are truly grateful to Bishop Peter who as lead safeguarding bishop, represented the Church at its three IICSA hearings over the past two years as well as leading on the response both to the recommendations and the important calls for change from survivors. His commitment to safeguarding and the mission of the Church is exemplary and the House of Bishops has learnt a lot from him.
We welcome Bishop Jonathan and Bishop Debbie and commend their willingness to take up this role which is a vital part of the work of the Church. I am aware of the immense time commitment involved and pray for them as this new chapter begins.”
Bishop Jonathan said:
“Having been a member of the NSSG for the last two years, I am deeply grateful to Bishop Peter Hancock for all that he has done, as well as very aware of the responsibility involved in taking on this role. I am profoundly conscious of the work that lies ahead, both in response to the findings of IICSA and beyond. In particular, I am committed to working closely with the survivor community, to whom we owe a huge debt of thanks for their courage, integrity and willingness to hold us to account. Safeguarding is about enabling the Church of England to go on becoming a safer, healthier place for all, and it is a sacred responsibility in which every single one of us must share.”
Bishop Debbie said:
“It is a privilege for me to take on this role, and to play my part in helping the Church respond well to survivors. Having begun ministry as a Family and Children’s Worker, I am committed to safeguarding vulnerable children and adults and supporting families in need. Safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility and I am pleased to be working with the National Team in developing our practice further.”
A group of survivors of sexual abuse committed by Church of England clergy have written an open letter to General Synod members. The full text of that letter is copied below the fold (and is also on the Surviving Churchblog).
Amendments, supported by the survivors, to the proposed motion due to be debated next week regarding the recommendations from IICSA to the Church of England have been proposed by David Lamming and Peter Adams.
The full text of the proposed motion if the proposed amendments had been accepted, is as follows.
GENERAL SYNOD FEBRUARY 2020 GROUP OF SESSIONS WEDNESDAY 12 FEBRUARY 2020
AGENDA ITEM 9 Safeguarding: Response to recommendations in IICSA May 2019 Investigation Report (GS 2158)
COMPOSITE DRAFT OF THE MOTION AS IT WOULD BE IF AMENDED BY THE AMENDMENTS PROPOSED BY DAVID LAMMING (GS 399) AND PETER ADAMS (GS 392)
That this Synod:
(a) lament the Church of England’s abject failures in dealing with reports of abuse, as revealed during the hearings of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) and documented in its interim report, Anglican Church Case Studies: Diocese of Chichester and The response to allegations against Peter Ball (May 2019), and accordingly welcome the terms of the Diocese of Blackburn ‘Ad Clerum’ letter dated 17th June 2019, reflecting on the IICSA report and commend its victim-centred approach to all in authority within the Church as a suitable model for developing reconciliation with those who have been wronged by our sins of commission and omission;
(b) affirm (in the words of the National Director of Safeguarding at para 4.1 of paper GS 2158) that the Church of England “remains committed to ensuring that words of apology are followed by concrete actions to improve how all worshipping communities across the whole Church in its many forms – across its parishes, dioceses, cathedrals, religious communities, national church institutions and other church bodies – respond to concerns and allegations of abuse and to all victims and survivors of abuse and others affected by this, whilst at the same time working to prevent such abuse from occurring in the first place.”
(c) endorse the Archbishops’ Council’s response, set out in paper GS 2158, to the five recommendations made by IICSA at pages 206 to 207 of its said report;
(d) request the Archbishops’ Council, National Safeguarding Steering Group (NSSG), National Safeguarding Team, and House of Bishops to respond immediately to the recommendations of the final IICSA report on the Anglican Church when it is published, and bring their response to General Synod for debate no later than July 2021; and
(e) request the Archbishops’ Council, NSSG and House of Bishops, working in conjunction with the Church Commissioners, to bring forward proposals for an appropriate and properly resourced compensation and redress scheme, so that words of apology are matched by actions that truly reflect the justice and righteousness of God’s kingdom.
The Church of England issued the press release below today. It appears to be in response to an article in Private Eye which was tweeted here yesterday.
Update on Safe Spaces following media report
A spokesperson for the National Safeguarding Team said: “Safe Spaces is planned as a vital support service for survivors of church-related abuse across the Church of England and the Catholic Church in England and Wales.
“The delay in progressing the support service, first officially discussed in 2014, is a matter of regret which the Church of England acknowledges and apologises for. But since the appointment of a project manager and the creation of the Safe Spaces Management Board last year eight survivor representatives from across both Churches are involved in ensuring we find the right organisation to deliver the project.
“Their knowledge, skill and personal experience in shaping the model for Safe Spaces alongside their commitment and support for the procurement process is integral to finding the right organisation to deliver the project.
“All grant money from both churches and ATL has been ring fenced for the project and no money from the £592,000 grant has been spent to date, and no new company has been set up. Pre set-up costs, procurement, project management and development are separate to this and the cost is being shared across both Churches.
“Following an initial procurement process, the Board has agreed that it would not be recommending the appointment of a preferred supplier to deliver the project; this decision was taken in partnership with the survivor representatives.
“Over the coming weeks the Board in partnership with survivors will agree the next steps and the best way forward. Survivor voices remain central to any future success of this new service and their welfare and support is an absolute priority for the Church in its continuing safeguarding work.
“Both churches are committed to supporting survivors of church-related abuse and providing an independent national service for survivors of any form of church-related abuse.”
The Venerable Mark Steadman has been appointed as acting Dean of Lincoln
The Rt Revd Dr David Court, acting Bishop of Lincoln, has appointed the Venerable Mark Steadman, Archdeacon of Stow and Lindsey, as acting Dean of Lincoln from Friday 22nd November 2019. This decision is to enable the continuing governance and functioning of the cathedral. Mr Steadman continues in role as Archdeacon of Stow and Lindsey alongside his new duties.
The Lincolnite has two news reports that shed further light on what has recently happened:
The most surprising item in the first report is this:
Dean Christine Wilson added that on Monday, the President of Tribunals made a determination that a complainant and the bishop had not followed the proper process at the outset and therefore the complaint, which led to Christine’s absence, was void and invalid.
The President of Tribunals stated that this was “unfortunate” and the complainant may wish to issue another complaint.
It now appears that this is likely to happen, which leaves the cathedral without their dean for a further period of time.
She added that she had over the last seven months respected the processes of the church throughout the inquiry and cooperated fully.
And this is further amplified in the second report:
…A Church of England spokesperson said: “The Church is taking this issue very seriously and is aware how difficult it is for all parties involved.
“As the Dean said in her statement, the President of Tribunals made a determination that the complainant and bishop had not followed the proper process at the outset, that this was ‘unfortunate’ and the complainant may wish to issue another complaint.
“The Church of England’s National Safeguarding Team will be issuing another complaint, however, it should be noted that the President of Tribunals made no decision on the actual substance of the complaint.
“Nothing further can be said as this process continues but we ask prayers for everyone involved…”