The Church Times reports that “TWO former Independent Safeguarding Board (ISB) members [Jasvinder Sanghera and Steve Reeves] have announced that they have ceased to co-operate with the independent review of the ISB’s demise. They have concerns about the reviewer’s remit.”
Jas Sanghera has posted on X/Twitter that “At no point have @churchofengland engaged with us on terms of reference for this review, despite our numerous request. This is in effect CofE marking it’s own homework & not consulting with the very ppl it concerns. Shocking”.
Steve Reeves has posted that “the Church, with a remit solely defined by the Church, and excluding events critical of the Church, won’t tell anything like the true story.”15 Comments
David Lamming has written the following article about the synod discussion that occurred on 9 July concerning the Independent Safeguarding Board.
Question 204 from the November General Synod sessions refers (text included below).
RE-WRITING HISTORY: OMITTING THE CONTRIBUTIONS OF FORMER ISB MEMBERS STEVE REEVES AND JASVINDER SANGHERA FROM THE FORMAL RECORD OF THE PROCEEDINGS AT THE YORK SYNOD IN JULY 2023
General Synod members, and those watching the proceedings on the livestream, will recall the débâcle at York on the Sunday afternoon, 9 July, when, after several attempts to use the standing orders to enable Jasvinder Sanghera and Steve Reeves to respond to the ‘Presentation on developments relating to the Independent Safeguarding Board’ were thwarted, the formal sitting was adjourned so that they could address Synod members, with Robert Hammond (chair of the Business Committee) taking over as chair of the informal session.
One of the thwarted attempts to use Standing Orders to allow Steve and Jasvinder to address Synod concerned SO 120(1), which provides: “The Presidents may invite such persons as they think fit to address the Synod.” The Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, said that he was “happy to do that”, though he thought that Meg Munn, who was also present, “ought to be invited to say something as well.” That said, he added: “I think if people [i.e. Jasvinder and Steve] were able to make a short statement and then perhaps a final response from the panel, I will leave that in your hands, Chair. I think then we should include this item.” (emphasis added). He was thwarted, though, as the legal advice given to the Chair (who reported it to Synod with ‘a regret‘) was that it was “unlawful for one of the Presidents and not both to suspend the Standing Orders.” Leaving aside that Debbie Buggs’s request was to “ask the Archbishop of York in his capacity as President to ask Steve and Jasvinder to address Synod, please,” not to suspend the SOs, it is to be noted that the reason the Archbishop of Canterbury was not present was that he had left Synod to be with his dying mother.11 Comments
Surviving Church has published this report on the current status of numerous safeguarding matters, few of which are on the agenda for the November synod. The editor of SC writes:
This is a copy of a newsletter written by Martin Sewell which helps a reader to understand at depth the issues on safeguarding that are coming before General Synod this week. Previous newsletters have been shared with synod members. (Ed.)
I recommend this report for the careful attention of all TA readers.21 Comments
A Review Group has been appointed to oversee an independent review process of the handling of alleged safeguarding issues regarding the former Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, Dr Martyn Percy. Details are in a press release, which is copied below.
Christ Church Review Group announced
A Review Group has been appointed to oversee an independent review process of the handling of alleged safeguarding issues regarding the former Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, Dr Martyn Percy.
The Review will look at the handling of these safeguarding issues, and relevant reports and investigations including those commissioned by National Safeguarding Team and the Diocese of Oxford as well as material from Clergy Discipline Measure (CDM) proceedings. It will not be concerned with the wider issues between the former Dean and the College.
The Review Group, details below, will consider that evidence with a view to appointing and instructing an independent reviewer with relevant expertise and experience.
The Review, commissioned by the Archbishops’ Council and diocese of Oxford was originally referred to the former Independent Safeguarding Board, ISB, with Terms of Reference announced in May 2022. Later that year the ISB announced it was pausing work on the review due to finite resources and workload.
This is the first Safeguarding Practice Review, formerly known as a learning lesson review, set up under the new Safeguarding Code of Practice approved at General Synod in July. Its aim is to improve safeguarding practice.
Review Group membership:32 Comments
The Church of England has today published a set of National Safeguarding Standards and an accompanying press release which is copied below. The approved version of the standards can be downloaded here.
Safeguarding standards published
Church of England safeguarding standards published
The Church of England has today published a set of National Safeguarding Standards, an essential benchmark to understand the quality and the impact of its safeguarding activity at a local and national level. The Standards will enable Church bodies to identify both their strengths and areas for development, which will in turn inform their strategic planning in respect of safeguarding.
Along with an accompanying Quality Assurance Framework these Standards have been developed over a three-year period in consultation with a wide range of stakeholders including victims and survivors. They build on existing policies and procedures including the previous Promoting a Safer Church statement. The five standards aim to cover the breadth of safeguarding activity in the Church.
Each Standard contains:
The standards will also inform the second round of independent audits of dioceses and cathedrals, to begin in 2024 and announced in August. It is not expected that every Church body will be able to meet every indicator immediately and the auditors are aware that those dioceses and cathedrals in the early audit phase will have had less time to embed these standards.
The National Safeguarding Team is also entering a partnership with the parish Safeguarding Dashboard. This will enable the dashboard to become fully integrated with the new standards, thus making it easier for thousands of parishes to explore the standards.
The Church of England’s lead safeguarding bishop, Joanne Grenfell, said: ‘All organisations, including the Church, must be able to demonstrate how well they are fulfilling their safeguarding responsibilities. The standards published today are part of a vital quality assurance framework aimed at making the Church a safer place for all and build on work already developed. I know they will be welcomed by all those involved in their local church as an important part of ensuring that our safeguarding activity is making a difference to people’s lives. It will also help the Church to be accountable to all its key stakeholders particularly survivors and victims of abuse.
There are a range of resources for parishes including:
On 12 June, we published this item: House of Survivors challenges William Nye which links to an open letter:
Open Letter to the Archbishops of Canterbury and York
Re: Notice of Complaint re Mr. William Nye LVO
Comments on that post noted at the time that House of Survivors was merely the website hosting the letter, not the originator of it, as our earlier headline had erroneously implied. Apologies.
Yesterday, 2 October, House of Survivors has hosted a second letter here: Open Letter to Archbishops, House of Survivors, and General Synod | October 2023
The letter is available both as a PDF, and on the HoS webpage. It is also copied in full below the fold.
Link to the PDF:
Open Letter to the Archbishops of Canterbury and York`
Re: Update on Notice of Complaint re Mr. William Nye LVO
Church Times report: Survivors’ complaint against Church of England secretary-general stalls41 Comments
The Church Times reports: Archbishops’ Council is retraumatising us, says group of abuse survivors
On Sunday evening, a letter was sent to the council by ten of the 12 people who had been awaiting a review of their cases by the ISB when it was disbanded without warning (News, 21 June). They write: “In the period since you closed the ISB we have been left in uncertainty and distress.”
The group criticise the announcement on 14 September that Kevin Crompton had been appointed as an “interim commissioner of independent reviews (News, 15 September). They say that the council’s handling of the situation has caused “harm” to members of the group…
There are more comments from survivors in the report. This in particular caught my eye:
“William Nye, the secretary-general, appears to be running the safeguarding show and making all the decisions, but there is no process to raise any concerns about him. He seems to be totally unaccountable.”
The full text of this letter is contained in the Church Times news article. It is also reproduced here, below the fold.3 Comments
See previous report here (also recently updated).
Many further items: (already updated twice today)
…On Tuesday night, Soul Survivor Watford held a meeting for members, attended by around 200 people, to address the congregations’ concerns and answer questions.
The Telegraph understands that a congregant asked a question “about saying goodbye to Mike” and that the question prompted applause from some other congregants…
I will update this article again if more items appear.8 Comments
The Church Times writes about the response here: We don’t know, but consider religious freedom, says C of E response on exceptions to mandatory reporting.
On the Seal of the Confessional the response has this to say.
Like many other historic churches, the Church of England includes in its practices the ministry of Confession and Reconciliation. In this ministry, someone can come to a priest and disclose anything they feel they may have done wrong. It is the practice of the Church of England, the Roman Catholic Church and Orthodox Churches to guarantee absolute confidentiality of what has been disclosed. This is often known as ‘the Seal of the Confessional’. The Seal is referred to in Canon Law, although the interpretation of the relevant legal provisions is contested.46 Comments
Updated again 19 September and 25 September
Previous report here.
The Church Times reported: Senior pastor of Soul Survivor under pressure as Pilavachi damage spreads
The full statement from New Wine: A statement from New Wine regarding the safeguarding investigation into Mike Pilavachi
There are numerous postings on social media questioning the accuracy of this statement. I will place some links to these in the Comments.
Update: New Wine has issued a further statement dated 15 September, in response to criticism of the 13 September statement, see link above.
Further update: latest Church Times report: New Wine to review its links with Pilavachi after attempt to distance itself fails
And this 21 September statement can also be found at the same New Wine link above
21 September 2023
Many have been hurt by Mike Pilavachi’s behaviour. As the new Chair of Trustees, I have asked for a full and independent review into the nature and extent of our relationship with Mike Pilavachi and Soul Survivor, to ascertain if there were allegations about his conduct at any New Wine events, and to highlight what we can learn for the future. We are in the process of doing this and will report as soon as possible. In the meantime, I would again urge anyone affected to seek the support and care that is available. Our priority throughout the NST investigation has been to enable a safe space for survivors to come forward, be heard and be cared for.
Bishop Jill Duff, Chair of New Wine Trustees
Update on work promised by former ISB – interim commissioner appointed
An interim commissioner of independent reviews has been appointed to ensure the work promised by the former ISB (Independent Safeguarding Board) can continue. Kevin Crompton, a senior safeguarding professional with experience in child and adult safeguarding and scrutiny in local authority setting, will start work this month.
The Archbishops’ Council had committed to setting in place arrangements to ensure that the case reviews and complaint responses promised by the former ISB would continue, where those met the terms of reference for the ISB, and as a result of feedback had also offered an independent advocacy service.
Kevin will commission and quality assure the reviews and complaints in line with the former ISB’s processes and will oversee the implementation of the recommendations of the completed Mr X review. Survivors with outstanding review requests can choose from a menu of reviewers including charities NSPCC and Thirtyone:eight along with Diocesan Safeguarding Advisory Panel (DSAP) Chairs. FearFree formerly FearLess) has been engaged to provide advocacy and support for the survivors with completed, active and pending reviews and complaints.
The majority of survivors have had an opportunity to feed into these arrangements but the Archbishops’ Council is aware of four individuals who had review requests with the former ISB but whose contact details have not been passed on. The former ISB office staff can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org for information on how their review will proceed.
Kevin Crompton said: ‘I am pleased to have been offered this opportunity to make a contribution to this important piece of work. I am looking forward to working with survivors to ensure they have an independent review of their concerns. I also will do all I can to ensure that recommendations of such reviews are given proper consideration and are implemented within reasonable timeframes.’
If you or anyone you are in contact with are affected by this news and want to talk to someone independently, please call the Safe Spaces helpline on 0300 303 1056
Archbishops’ Council statement on ISB June 202313 Comments
press release 11 September 2023
Leading public law barrister to head review into Independent Safeguarding Board
A leading public law barrister is to head the independent review into the first phase of the Church of England’s Independent Safeguarding Board (ISB), it was announced today.
The Archbishops’ Council has instructed Sarah Wilkinson, a barrister from Blackstone Chambers, to undertake a review of the ISB Phase 1. She is an experienced public law practitioner who has represented the Government both as sole and junior counsel in a wide range of high-profile judicial review cases.
The Archbishops’ Council has asked Ms Wilkinson to establish a clear account of the events from the conception, design and establishment of the ISB until the announcement of the termination of contracts of members, establish and identify the reasons for the action to terminate, and identify lessons to be learned based on the findings.
She will complete her review by the end of November and the Council will aim to publish this report as soon as possible following the end of November. This review will also inform the work of Professor Alexis Jay on the future of safeguarding.
The review was announced at the General Synod in July by the Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, and follows the statement issued by the Council on the future of the ISB.
If you or anyone you are in contact with wish to talk to someone independently please call the Safe Spaces helpline on 0300 303 1056 or visit www.safespacesenglandandwales.org.uk
Alternatively, you may wish to contact the diocesan safeguarding team in your area or the National Safeguarding Team – email email@example.com
There are also a range of other support services available.
Living in Love and Faith – first facilitated group conversation held
The first meeting of the ‘Living With Difference’ group – who have been invited to be part of a series of three facilitated conversations around the Prayers of Love and Faith – was held on Thursday September 7.
The members of the group are:
Notes to Editors:
The group will aim to reflect the spectrum of views held and work to offer back to the Bishops an understanding of how their proposals can be taken forward, reflecting the issues raised in the conversations. The group will meet for three full days, in London, on September 7, 12 and 28.
This is scheduled to feed into meetings of the College of Bishops in September and the House of Bishops in October.28 Comments
See previous report here.
Today, there have been two announcements:
The full texts of both are copied below the fold.
The Telegraph has this report (£): Soul Survivor’s Mike Pilavachi ‘used spiritual authority to control victims’, report finds47 Comments
Richard Scorer and Martin Sewell have written at Surviving Church: Why Prof Jay must impose an external Safeguarding Regulator on the CofE
This week, the Lucy Letby case has brutally exposed the lack of regulation and accountability of NHS managers (link to Lucy Letby: NHS managers must be held to account, doctor says – BBC News). Whereas clinicians are subject to professional scrutiny and accountability by independent regulators, NHS managers are not, even when (as in the Letby case) they may have prioritised the reputation of a hospital over patient safety. This is a feature they share with those in leadership and managerial roles in religious organisations. Both NHS managers and Bishops are amongst the dwindling band of professionals still not subject to independent regulation. This urgently needs to change, and as far as religious bodies are concerned, Professor Jay’s taskforce on independent regulation of safeguarding in the Church of England has an opportunity to set this change in motion…
Do read the whole article.24 Comments
This website is now live: Future of Church Safeguarding
The Future of Church Safeguarding Programme (the Programme) has been set up to recommend a model for fully independent safeguarding within the Church of England.
As part of the Programme we will gather a range of views to better understand what needs to be improved or what is already working well in Church safeguarding processes – processes in place to protect people from harm.
We also want to hear opinions about how to achieve a safeguarding body that is independent, fair and impartial.
The Programme operates entirely independently from the Church, and is led by Professor Alexis Jay OBE, who previously chaired the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA).
Professor Jay expects to complete her report for The Archbishops of Canterbury and of York by the end of December 2023 and will publish the report herself to ensure full transparency.
The website contains much additional information about how this programme will operate.
Not all unfinished safeguarding business in the Church of England relates to the fiasco surrounding the ISB.
Another major item yet to be reported on is the abuse perpetrated by John Smyth, which has been known about since the 1980s. The formal investigation only got underway in 2019. The Church Times has just published a very detailed and thorough history of the delays in completing this review, which still appears to be many months away from publication. The management of this review lies in the hands of the National Safeguarding Team.
Madeleine Davies writes: Smyth survivors still waiting, five years after being promised church review
IT IS five years this week since the “lessons-learned” review of the abuse perpetrated by John Smyth was promised, and ten years since the Archbishop of Canterbury was formally told about the abuse…
As she reports, Andrew Graystone says:
“The Church decided that the task of reviewing a case lasting over 40 years with more than a hundred victims could be handled by one part-time reviewer contracted for just two days a week, with a part-time assistant. The Church either didn’t recognise the scale of the review it was launching, or simply didn’t care.”
The lack of an independent accountability body to monitor the progress and scope of the review, and to ask Mr Makin “awkward questions”, was also a problem, he said. Conducting reviews was a “lucrative process”, he said, pointing to a leak by the NST in 2019 which revealed that Mr Makin’s rate was £650 per day.
Update on Mr X
Another item where action by the NST remains outstanding is reported today in the Sunday Times by Katie Gatens: I was abused as a choirboy. Decades later the Church of England betrayed me again. (behind a paywall, but see this comment on Twitter)
This is the same “Mr X” case on which the now defunct ISB produced a report, back in May: ISB reports on how Church failed in responding to an abuse survivor.44 Comments
The Archbishops’ Council has today, 2 August, announced this: Next round of independent safeguarding audits
INEQE Safeguarding Group has been appointed by the Archbishops’ Council to carry out the next round of independent external audits of Church of England dioceses and cathedrals, starting in January 2024. They were appointed after a full and open tender process, which included survivor representation…
This is the only official Safeguarding statement from the Church of England since the announcement of Alexis Jay’s appointment on 20 July, before which there was the 12 July announcement relating to Meg Munn’s departure.
We have heard nothing further of any independent investigation into what when wrong in relation to the disbanding of the ISB.
Update 25 July Written Questions to Church Commissioners:
Ben Bradshaw MP (Lab, Exeter): To ask the Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners, with reference to the announcement by the Archbishop of York of an independent inquiry into the decision to close down the Independent Safeguarding Board, if he will publish a copy of the inquiry’s finings once available.
Andrew Selous: The Archbishop of York has committed that the findings of this review will be made public.
But even more urgent, we have heard nothing about arrangements for the care of those survivors who were already engaged with the former ISB board members.
Jasvinder Sanghera wrote, on 31 July: IF NOT NOW, WHEN?
Five weeks have passed since the body established to provide much needed independence to safeguarding across the Church of England (CofE), was disbanded by the Archbishops’ Council.
They could have used this whole experience to raise the bar higher for victims and survivors, instead, they lowered it, leaving those harmed by the Church in greater distress and limbo. The consequences have been devastating.
We have recently been informed that the Church of England is considering its options, however, this is without regard for what this lack of urgency and care means for these victims and survivors. I wish to enlighten you, as it continues to be irresponsible and unsafe not to speak out about these lives…
Do read the whole article. It concludes with this:30 Comments
Updated 2 August
See our 13 May report here: Devamanikkam: Bishop of Newcastle responds to Sentamu.
Today, 27 July, the Bishop of Newcastle has issued: Lord Sentamu – statement from the Bishop of Newcastle.|
The full text of her statement is copied below the fold.
The Church Times has reported this: Bishop of Newcastle does ‘not feel able’ to grant Lord Sentamu permission to officiate.
Philip Jones has written this in defence of Lord Sentamu: Safeguarding and the Rule of Law.
Continued from episode 10 Updated 24 July
1. The Church Times has a detailed account of the Sunday afternoon session: General Synod digest: Survivor and Archbishops’ Council present on safeguarding chaos.
2. Premier Christianity Newscast: Tim Wyatt has a whole podcast (1 hour) devoted to the ISB story: Safeguarding in crisis in the Church of England. He includes interviews with Andrew Graystone, Gavin Drake, Jasvinder Sanghera, Jamie Harrison, Ian Paul.
3. Alexis Jay and John O’Brien will develop new proposals for the Independent Safeguarding Board. See press release from Alexis Jay and another press release from the Church of England: Welcome for Professor Alexis Jay.
From the former, Professor Jay said:
“When I was Chair of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, I heard at first hand of the devasting effects of abuse within the Church of England, and of the failures, often repeated, to prevent it from occurring. I was very clear in my recommendations that safeguarding in the Church would require genuine independence in order to be fully effective. I have been just as clear with the Archbishop of Canterbury and with the Archbishop of York that this programme of work must be entirely independent of the Church too for it to succeed.
I would like to assure everyone that I mean what I say. My team will not include anyone employed by the church, nor will we hold meetings or conduct any business on church premises. I have explained that if I detect any attempt to interfere with or to hinder my work, I will withdraw from this programme of work immediately.
I also wish to make clear that my work will be fair, impartial, objective and rigorous. One of my first tasks will be to hear the views of victims and survivors of church abuse, and to listen to those involved in safeguarding at all levels of the church across England. I look forward to hearing their experiences and using this process to inform the recommendations I will make to the Archbishops of Canterbury and York.
4. Media reports on this development:
5. There is a letter (scroll down) in the Church Times today, signed by 14 General Synod members, and titled (by the CT) Synod: safeguarding, procedures, and governance. The letter has also been published on Twitter, see here.
6. The Religion Media Centre held a briefing yesterday, now available on YouTube, titled Is the Church of England ungovernable? About half of this is devoted to Safeguarding/ISB.
7. The Church Times has this report on 24 July: Put us first, survivors tell Archbishops’ Council after Professor Jay’s appointment. It includes this quote from a Church House spokesperson:
“We are aware that the former ISB members had promised to undertake a small number of reviews and look into particular complaints.
“We are proposing to have a package where survivors, if they want to continue in this way, can choose from a variety of possibilities to look at their review or complaint.
“We recognise that the current uncertainty is causing anxiety for survivors, but it is important that proposals are developed that can command their confidence. Conversations are taking place and we expect to make details available later this month.”