Updated Monday lunchtime
Today, the final Friday, was originally intended to be used only for closing statements from the lawyers representing the various parties. However, it was announced at the end of Thursday that an additional witness would be called first on Friday morning. This turned out to be David Bonehill, Claims Director of EIG and and John Titchener, Group Compliance Director of EIO.
The Church Times has a report of what happened: IICSA reprimands Ecclesiastical over earlier advice to C of E and evidence to Inquiry11 Comments
Church Times IICSA: I am ashamed and horrified, says Welby20 Comments
Updated again Friday morning
Transcript for day 7 (Tuesday) See below
Day 8 witness statements
At the time of writing no further documents for day 8 have been published by IICSA, but there is extensive media coverage:.
Press Association via Daily Mail Vicar tells abuse inquiry archbishops ‘not fit for office’. (this report also appears in numerous other newspapers)
Church Times Absolute power will corrupt bishops, says Sentamu
Doncaster Free Press Former South Yorkshire vicar claims sex abuse reports were ‘ignored’ by clerics
ITV Vicar tells abuse inquiry archbishops ‘not fit for office’ (includes video report)
And this analysis at Surviving Church: The Matt Ineson IICSA testimony. A crisis of leadership in the Church of England?
Documents adduced on day 7 include the following witness statements:
And there is this media report:22 Comments
The transcript of Friday’s hearing is now published.
Video recordings of today are now available here.
The timetable for Week 2 of these hearings has been published today.
The transcript of today’s (Thursday week 1) hearing is now published here.
Video recordings of today are now available here.
Discussion paper by Colin Perkins
Law & Religion UK IICSA: Some more legal views (includes links to more of today’s documents)14 Comments
Updated again 8 July
The transcript of the hearing for day 3 (Wednesday) is now available here.
Video recordings of today are now available here.
Media coverage has already appeared:1 Comment
Updated again 8 July
Transcript of second day of hearings published here.
Video recordings of today are now available here.
Document links (28 in total for day 2, now a total of 7 for day 1) here.
Media coverage:1 Comment
The Church Times carried a report recently: Synod should welcome bishops’ safeguarding letter.
A LETTER from the bishops of the diocese of Blackburn, which warned that the Church’s mission was “fatally undermined” by the abuse crisis (News, 21 June), should be formally welcomed by the General Synod, two lay members have suggested.
A motion commending its “victim-centred approach” as a “suitable model for developing reconciliation with those who have been wronged by our sins of commission and omission” has been proposed by Martin Sewell, of the diocese of Rochester, and David Lamming, of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich.
They are seeking the permission of the Archbishops to introduce this motion at the meeting in York next month, when the Business Committee submits report on the first day.
This week, they noted that the letter from Blackburn had been welcomed by a number of survivors, including Jo Kind, who addressed the Synod last year (News, 7 July 2018).
“In recent times, we have sought a general debate on a safeguarding theme. Presentations and questions are not the same thing,” they said.
Their suggested motion offered “an opportunity to enable the Church to embrace the important themes of repentance, listening with humility, and pastoral care”.
The archbishops have today rejected this proposal. Below you will find the text of the proposed motion and the text of the reply sent by the Bishop at Lambeth. Note that the proposal was not to debate the IICSA report at all but only the four page pastoral letter from the Blackburn senior clergy.
“This Synod welcome the terms of the Diocese of Blackburn ‘Ad Clerum’ letter dated 17th June 2019, reflecting
on the IICSA report, dated May 2019, on Chichester Diocese and Peter Ball, 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.”
From: Tim Thornton
Date: 2 July 2019
To: Martin Sewell, David Lamming
Subject: Proposal to ask permission to introduce a motion
Dear Martin and David
Thank you for the e mail you have sent to both the Presidents letting them know about your intention to ask permission to introduce a motion at the Synod in York.
I am writing to let you know that both the Presidents have considered your idea carefully and both feel it is not appropriate at this time and so will refuse you the permission you seek.
Of course your motion is an important one and the matters you raise are crucial for our life as a Church. However as you both know the IICSA hearing is taking place at the same time as the York session and many of the key people in the NST and others (including the Bishop of Bath and Wells) are focussed on responding to the inquiry and listening carefully to the survivors and all who are giving evidence over this fortnight.
It is also the case that the Interim Report has only recently been published and the NSSG has even more recently sent in its response to the recommendations. The Presidents do think it is right to allow some more time for people to read those reports and consider their views and reactions to the important and difficult material contained in the report. It is also important to allow the present hearing to take its course before we have a debate on these matters on the floor of Synod.
There are of course questions and space being given to Safeguarding on the Sunday of this session so there will be opportunity for voices to be heard.
I understand this will not be the answer you would like but I hope you can understand the Presidents have given your question thought and do not think that this particular session is the right time to allow for the proper preparation and the availability for all who would and should be there to take part in any such debate.
The transcript of the first day of this hearing, which covers both the Church of England and the Church in Wales, is available here.
Video recordings of today are now available here.
The Church Times has published two reports of the hearing:
The timetable.for the remainder of the first week is here. The hearings are scheduled to last two weeks.3 Comments
See our earlier article Senior Blackburn clergy reflect on IICSA reports on Chichester Diocese and Peter Ball.
The BBC Radio 4 Sunday programme carried an interview by Donna Birrell with the Bishop of Burnley, Philip North (starts at 32 minutes, 45 seconds).
BBC Radio Cornwall has a longer version of this interview, listen over here.
A transcript of this (longer) interview is copied below the fold. (more…)2 Comments
The Daily Telegraph published a news article on 21 June: Minister ‘spiritually abused’ the vulnerable. This is behind a paywall, but the substance of it was subsequently reported elsewhere:
Two notices dated April and May 2019 signed by the Bishop of Maidstone and 3 others.
Statements and a video recording from an event on 27 June, at which Vaughan Roberts, Sarah Hall (Emmanuel’s Safeguarding Officer) and Andrew Wales QC describe in some detail what the abuse consisted of, and what actions have been taken by Emmanuel Church and by others, in response to the disclosures received. The transcript is worth reading in full.
In a separate but related development, two statements were recently issued by the Anglican Mission in England:
To date, two articles have been published which comment on all of this:
Church Times now has a further story Fletcher faces allegations of naked beatings which includes the full text of a statement from Jonathan Fletcher:
“As part of a long-standing prayer group, I have in the past been involved in a system of mutual encouragement whereby we set ourselves targets in healthy and holy living and then imposed what I thought of as light-hearted forfeits if we failed.
“These included going without chocolate, cold baths and school-type gym shoe punishments. Although at the time we definitely did not think we were doing anything wrong, I’ve seen since that it could have caused much harm both to individuals and to the reputation of conservative evangelicalism for which I am profoundly sorry. Needless to say, this activity has now stopped.
“In addition, a number of people are reporting that I have had naked massages with them. I enjoy massage and benefit from it. To that end I regularly have it professionally administered. However, if I can avoid the cost by finding a male friend to administer, and in return receive, massage, I do.
“These sessions categorically do not have erotic or sexual overtones and I have never coerced or intended to coerce anyone into an arrangement. If any have felt pressurised by me to do this, I apologise.
“Again, I realise that in the position I have held in the past as an incumbent, it was unwise of me to involve anyone to whom I was also ministering and I apologise for doing so.
“I confirm that I no longer engage in public ministry.”
Press release from the Church of England
Church of England response to IICSA’s report
The Church of England has published today its response to IICSA’s report on the Chichester diocese and Peter Ball case studies. This is ahead of next week’s wider IICSA hearing on the Anglican Church in England and Wales.
The timetable for the first week of the IICSA hearing on the Anglican Church in England and Wales is available here.7 Comments
The Church of England issued the following press release today.
Safeguarding Data Report 2015-17
Safeguarding data has been published today taken from annual safeguarding returns, collected by dioceses from 2015-17 and sent to the National Safeguarding Team. This is the first time that trends have been analysed over a three-year period.
The Church of England consists of more than 16,000 churches across the country; with around 1.14 million adults and children making up the regular worshipping community. This means it comes into contact with vast numbers of children, young people and adults every day of the week and safeguarding them is a priority. 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.
In any report about data of this nature, it is important to recognise that behind each statistic is a person. Safeguarding is about everyone’s wellbeing and means the action the Church takes to promote a safer culture; it is about valuing every person as made in God’s image.
Madeleine Davies Church Times Safeguarding reports grow by a half in two years
The full text of the MACSAS (Minister and Clergy Sexual Abuse Survivors) press release referred to in this article is here.
Harriet Sherwood The Guardian Church of England finds 50% rise in abuse claims and concerns
The bishops, dean and archdeacons in the Diocese of Blackburn have written to all clergy, readers and safeguarding officers in the diocese. They reflect on reflect on the IICSA reports on Chichester Diocese and Peter Ball.
The press release states:
Since the recent publication of the report by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) on the Diocese of Chichester and the Peter Ball case, Bishops’ Leadership Teams across the country have been strongly encouraged to read and reflect on the reports in their entirety.
Having done this in our Diocese, the Bishops, Archdeacons and The Dean of The Church of England in Lancashire were moved to send a message across our Diocese to urge others of the need to be ‘spending time with the report’; the reading of which they describe as a ‘powerful, emotional experience’.
The text of the letter follows below the fold and can also be viewed in its original form here.
Aban Quaynor writes about the letter in The Lancaster and Morecombe Citizen: Senior leaders in Diocese of Blackburn call on church to protect children from sex abuse.
SENIOR clergy in the Blackburn Diocese have written a joint letter to Christian faith leaders urging them to ensure ‘local churches are places where children and vulnerable adults are entirely safe’ from sexual abuse.
The letter … also states that members of the diocese should take a collective responsibility for abuse which has taken place within the wider church because ignoring it becomes a form of re-abuse…
This article is also published in the Lancashire Telegraph.
Stephen Parsons writes about the letter on his Surviving Church blog: The Blackburn Letter. A new beginning for the Church?
Martin Sewell Archbishop Cranmer Child sexual abuse: the Blackburn Pastoral Letter is game-changer for the Church of England
Adam Becket Church Times Safeguarding not just about box-ticking, say senior clergy in Blackburn8 Comments
There has been discussion recently in the media and on social media of an incident at a Church of England school in Essex. This involved a Church of England priest who has resigned as a governor of a church school and also as the local incumbent because he did not like the way that the school handled the gender transition of a child.
This discussion began on 25 May when the Mail on Sunday reported: Vicar resigns after being ‘silenced’ over a Church of England school’s plan to keep an eight-year-old pupil’s sex change a secret from parents.
That provoked a detailed press statement the same day from the Mermaids charity: Response to Mail on Sunday.It is worth reading.. You can read more about this charity here. It is recommended as a resource in Valuing All God’s Children, the Church of England’s guidance on challenging homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying, republished in Autumn 2017 (see page 39 here.)
The next day, 26 May, Christian Today reported: Vicar quits over transgenderism policy at Church of England school.
Premier published on 28 May: Read the letter from the CofE vicar resigning over the Church’s approach to sexuality.
Christian Concern published a statement dated 31 May: Statement from Reverend John Parker.
Subsequently Christian Today reported twice on responses from the Bishop of Chelmsford:
The Diocese of Chelmsford then published the full text of the bishop’s Ad Clerum which I recommend reading in full.
On 6 June, Premier published this report: Bishop defends actions after suggestion he told vicar to leave Church over transgender complaint.36 Comments
In addition to the several investigations by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse into specific religious organisations, including the continuing investigation into the Church of England, IICSA’s separate Truth Project has recently published a Thematic Report: Child sexual abuse in the context of religious institutions.
IICSA also issued a press release: Shame and guilt stop survivors reporting child sexual abuse in religious institutions.
The report includes data on religions with a significant presence in England and Wales, including the Anglican and Catholic Churches, Christian faith communities such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Baptists and Methodists, and Islam and Judaism.
The report’s key findings include:
- Those sexually abused in religious institutions were less likely to report the abuse at the time (69 per cent) than survivors (54 per cent) in the same institution.
- Over half of survivors did not report the abuse due to feelings of shame (37 per cent) and guilt (18 per cent).
- Half of victims (48 per cent) knew of others being abused by the same perpetrator.
- One fifth (18 percent) of survivors reported a loss of faith as a consequence of the abuse.
The report also examines institutional failures, with most participants firmly believing others were aware of the perpetrator’s behaviour but did nothing. Sexual abuse was most frequently perpetrated by an individual with an official religious title, such as priest, vicar, imam or elder.
At the Truth Project, survivors are invited to make recommendations for change. Participants told the Inquiry that it needs to address the secrecy that comes from the sanctity of religious institutions and the assumption that religious figures are automatically moral…
The Church of England issued this press release in response: Statement on IICSA Truth Project report.
The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has recently published a research report on child sexual abuse in religious institutions, including the Anglican Church. It is based on accounts shared by survivors at its Truth Project, and its conclusions and findings are disturbing and in many places shocking.
One of the report’s key findings includes that those sexually abused in religious institutions were less likely to report the abuse at the time (69 per cent) than survivors (54 per cent) in other institutions. We would urge anyone who wants to report abuse and find support to come forward and we promise they will be heard.
IICSA continues to shine a light on the safeguarding practices of religious institutions, including the Church of England, and we are working constructively with the Inquiry as we approach our wider Church hearing on July 1. We commend those survivors who have had the courage to come forward to share their experiences to the Inquiry and in particular to the Truth Project, knowing how difficult this would have been.
We welcomed the findings and recommendations published by IICSA this month, on the Peter Ball and Chichester Diocese case studies. This states that the Church of England should have been a place which protected all children and supported victims and survivors but it failed to do this. It is absolutely right that the Church at all levels should learn lessons from the issues raised in both these reports and also strengthen our resolve to make the Church a safe place for all.
Bishop of Bath and Wells, Peter Hancock, the Church’s lead safeguarding bishop
There has been some media coverage of this:
Following the publication of the recent IICSA report on certain aspects of the Church of England (Chichester diocese and Peter Ball), there was very little immediate public response from senior people in the Church of England. This led Andrew Graystone to write a letter a week later to various bishops and some members of the Archbishops’ Council, calling for an entirely different approach to dealing with abuse survivors. The Bishop of London invited Andrew to spell out what such an approach might entail.
This document is his answer: The Church of England and survivors.16 Comments
The suspension of the Bishop of Lincoln was reported earlier.
David Lamming has written a detailed analysis of the legal issues arising from this suspension. You can read this document here. (PDF)
He summarises as follows:
Whatever the nature or details of the “information” on which the Archbishop of Canterbury based his decision to suspend Bishop Christopher, in the light of the clear statement that “there has been no allegation that Bishop Christopher has committed abuse of a child or vulnerable adult”, the legal basis for the suspension is at least doubtful. An appeal to the President of Tribunals that would clarify the legal position would seem to be justified and appropriate.
David is a retired barrister, whose professional interests include ecclesiastical law. He is a member of the House of Laity of the General Synod of the Church of England, elected from the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich.
Another article has been published on this topic.
Philip Jones has written: Safeguarding and Suspension: The Case of the Bishop of Lincoln.
Do read both articles.
The Church of England has today announced an Independent lessons learnt review into Bishop Whitsey case.
His Hon David Pearl has been appointed by the National Safeguarding Team as chair of the independent lessons learnt review into the Whitsey case. The Church supported a police investigation into allegations of sexual offences against children and adults by the late Bishop Hubert Victor Whitsey. The allegations dated from 1974 onwards when he was Bishop of Chester and from 1981 while he was retired and living in Blackburn diocese. Bishop Whitsey died in 1987.
The review is expected to be carried out in two phases and will include the case of Gordon Dickenson, once other Church processes have concluded. Dickenson, a former chaplain to Bishop Whitsey, was jailed in March after admitting sexually assaulting a boy in the 1970s.
Commenting on his appointment David Pearl said: “I am committed to ensuring that this Review will be both independent and transparent. The Review will examine all relevant documents and will hear from everyone who wishes to provide evidence to the Review.”…
The Terms of Reference of the Review are also published.
The Diocese of Chester has published this: Victor Whitsey Statement
[Note: this statement is much older and is not in response to today’s announcement.]
Joint statement from Archbishop of York and Bishop of Chester
“We can confirm that we have supported the police on an investigation into allegations of sexual offences against children and adults by the late Bishop Hubert Victor Whitsey (pictured right). The allegations date from 1974 onwards when he was Bishop of Chester and from 1981 while he was retired and living in Blackburn diocese. Bishop Whitsey died in 1987.
“We are deeply sorry and apologise to those individuals who have come forward to share their account of abuse by a bishop in the Church of England who was in a position of power and authority. We appreciate that it is very difficult for individuals to come forward and to give their account. Sexual abuse is a heinous crime – and is an absolute and shameful breach of trust. We acknowledge that for survivors, the effects of sexual abuse are lifelong. We are offering pastoral support to all those who have come forward and continue to hold them all in our prayers.
We have supported the police investigation Operation Coverage, which has been comprehensive, and they have informed us that “should Right Reverend Hubert Victor Whitsey have been alive today, then the Police would have spoken to him in relation to 10 of the witness allegations.”
Anyone affected by today’s news should call the CCPAS helpline on 0303 003 11 11 who can offer help and signpost to church-related support and information or alternatively call the NSPCC 0808 800 5000. Anyone with further information on the case should go direct to the police on 101.
The Church will consider what lessons can be learnt from this case and whether any action needs to be taken as a result of what these enquiries have shown.”