Thinking Anglicans

First independent chair for Church of England’s National Safeguarding Panel

The Church of England has announced the appointment of the first independent chair for its National Safeguarding Panel with this press release:

Meg Munn, former MP and Government Minister, with a professional background in child and adult safeguarding issues, has been appointed as the first independent chair of the Church of England’s National Safeguarding Panel (NSP). Meg attended her first Panel today where she was officially installed as Chair, taking over from Bishop Peter Hancock, the Church’s lead safeguarding bishop.

Meg Munn is a qualified social worker with 20 years’ experience and led children’s social services in York before being elected as a Member of Parliament in 2001. She spent 14 years in Parliament and was a government minister; in 2010 she established and chaired the All-Party Child Protection Parliamentary Group having previously chaired the All-Party Voice Parliamentary Group which worked for the prevention of abuse of vulnerable adults. Stepping down from parliament in 2015, Meg became an independent governance consultant and non-executive director.  She has been a member of the Methodist Church since her teenage years and lives in Yorkshire…

Press report

Harriet Sherwood The Guardian C of E appoints first independent chair of safeguarding
“Meg Munn insists apologies for past wrongs will mean nothing without deep cultural change”

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Church of England safeguarding: some updates

Martin Sewell has written another article at Archbishop Cranmer entitled It is pointless pouring the new wine of safeguarding into the old wineskins of arcane ecclesiology.

The Church of England media report on Monday told us that “a senior church figure” had been invited by the police to discuss an alleged failure to report a serious sexual offence. Following the case of Sir Cliff Richard, official police hesitance and revised guidelines apparently prevented further identification of who was involved and that ought to be respected, even though this particular genie was well out of the bottle. The controversy is a longstanding one, pre-dating the Cliff Richard case, and many know what this is all about, but let us do what Lord Carlile suggested when he reviewed the mistakes made in the case of Bishop George Bell.

Interestingly, the Church of England originally immediately repudiated that Carlile recommendation, yet in Monday’s media announcement they coyly adopted the police reticence and applied the principle in this case, though whether this is an official embracing of the wisdom of Carlile’s proposition or a ‘one off’ exception is unclear. This matters.

We need a debate on the principles of these cases in the abstract, because tainted by excessive sympathy or disapprobation of any individual or set of circumstances may well lead us astray.

While following this aspect of the debate amongst colleagues with a special interest in Safeguarding policy, a simple question arose: ‘Do the same rules apply to the most junior of deacons as to an archbishop?’ Essentially: ‘Is there equality under the law within the ecclesiastical community?’

It seems to me that the answer to that question may not be quite as simple as one may think, and we need to grapple with the complexity of the debate without being bogged down by unique contexts and individual circumstances…

The whole article is well worth reading.

Stephen Parsons has published an article, containing a huge amount of detail on the case which underlies the arguments made above, titled The Matt Ineson story continued. There is even more information in the comments to that article.

The Telegraph news report mentioned is here (registration required): Bishop of Oxford to face police questioning over allegations of sex abuse cover-up. The Oxford Mail report of the diocesan response is here: Abuse claims were not ignored insists Oxford Diocese.

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Victims launch claim against John Smyth camp leaders

News release

Tuesday 21st August 2018      1430

VICTIMS LAUNCH CLAIM AGAINST JOHN SMYTH CAMP LEADERS

A group of men who say they were groomed and beaten by the English barrister John Smyth have launched a legal claim against the Titus Trust, which runs the notorious Iwerne holidays network.

One victim, who did not wish to be identified, said “The abuse we suffered as a consequence of attending Iwerne camps has had a devastating effect on all of our lives.  We have been compelled to take this course of action because of the unwillingness of the Titus Trust to accept any responsibility for what happened.”

Since John Smyth’s abuse came to public attention in February 2017, Titus Trust has consistently refused to speak to the men, to help identify other victims or to provide for the counselling they all need.   Victims’ advocate Andrew Graystone said “I have personally written to every individual Titus Trustee more than once, pleading for them to do their duty as trustees and as Christians, and help the victims.  Not one has responded.  The refusal of the trustees to offer any help to Smyth’s victims has massively compounded their suffering.”

The victims have instructed Richard Scorer of Slater and Gordon Solicitors to pursue their claim against Titus Trust.  Scorer has frequently represented victims of abuse In a church context. He said “No reasonable person could believe that the Titus Trust is anything other than the legal successor to the Iwerne Trust. If the current trustees of the Titus Trust persist in claiming that they bear no responsibility, we will be forced to launch additional claims against the individual surviving trustees of Iwerne, namely David Fletcher and Giles Rawlinson.”

Titus Trust is the legal successor to the Iwerne Trust, which continues to run camps under the Iwerne brand. Iwerne provides a programme of intensive Christian discipleship based around activity holidays. The programme has run continuously since 1930. The most recent Iwerne holidays were held this month.

John Smyth QC was the chair of the Iwerne Trust from 1975 to 1982.  He resigned when the trust became aware that he was using the network to recruit young men for abuse.  Smyth died at his home in South Africa on 11th August, just eight days after Hampshire Police had summoned him for formal questioning in connection with the offences.

For further information contact Andrew Graystone

andrew.graystone1@btinternet.com

07772 710090

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Peter Ball – legislation, then and now

David Pocklington of Law & Religion UK has written a three-part post concerning the public hearing of the Independent Inquiry Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) into the Peter Ball case study which took place 23 – 27 July 2018. I’ve listed the topics covered in each below. It’s all well worth reading.

Peter Ball – legislation, then and now (I) Legislative and other changes, to 2018 and beyond

Appointment of diocesan bishop
Permission to Officiate (PTO)
Timeline of events

Peter Ball – legislation, then and now (II)

Implications of a police caution
Sanctions applicable to bishops
Misconduct in public office
Mandatory reporting of safeguarding
Seal of the confessional

Peter Ball – legislation, then and now (III) What next after the IICSA Peter Ball Inquiry?

IICSA Final Report
Closing Statements of Peter Ball Inquiry
On-going work

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Statement from victims of the late John Smyth QC and the Titus Trust

The statement below has been issued by four victims of the late John Smyth and the Titus Trust, and refers to a statement on the website of the Titus Trust, which is copied below the fold.

We are amongst the scores of victims viciously beaten by the late John Smyth QC whilst he was Chair of The Iwerne Trust.

We are appalled by the statement issued on Monday 13th August by the Titus Trust, which now runs the Iwerne network.

The statement says that the Titus Trust has “done all that [it] can to ensure the matter is properly investigated by the relevant authorities.” This is untrue.

The statement further says that the board of the Titus Trust was only informed of the allegations against John Smyth in 2014. This is also untrue.

The Revd The Hon David Fletcher was employed as the senior officer of the Iwerne Trust from 1967 until 1986, when he became a trustee. He served in that capacity continuously until August 2016, only resigning his post when the Iwerne Trust was closed in a bid to distance it from its successor. Revd Fletcher was also a trustee of the Titus Trust from its foundation in 1997 until the same date.

It is a matter of record that Revd Fletcher and numerous leaders of his movement have been fully aware of Smyth’s abuse for 36 years. Revd Fletcher commissioned a comprehensive report of Smyth’s abuses in the UK in March 1982. From 1993 he was in possession of a further report of Smyth’s abuse in Zimbabwe. These reports, which were stored in the loft of the Chair of the Titus Trust Giles Rawlinson, were not made available to any secular authorities until 2017, when they were requisitioned by Hampshire Police under warrant.

An earlier statement from the Titus Trust website says that Smyth’s abuse took place between 1978 and 1981. They know this to be untrue. Smyth’s abuse in the UK started in 1975 and continued until 1982 and probably until 1984. Rev Fletcher and other Iwerne Trustees then facilitated Smyth’s move to Africa, where he abused at least 60 children between 1985 and 2017.

The Titus Trust, under the leadership of Fletcher and Rawlinson, took over the Iwerne network in its entirety in 1997. Titus has continued to run holidays under the Iwerne brand until as recently as last week. To suggest that the two are completely separate is simply deceitful.

Since Smyth’s horrific abuses were publicly exposed in February 2017, the Titus Trust has flatly refused to engage with his victims, or even to enquire after our well-being, let alone to offer any form of support or redress. Their protestation of sympathy is cynical and disingenuous.

Had the Titus Trust acted on the information that was available to it since its foundation, Smyth’s abuse could have been stopped long ago. Our hearts go out to the 60 or more children of Zimbabwe and South Africa who suffered at the hands of John Smyth as we did, but needlessly.

We have no interest in the “thoughts and prayers” of the Titus Trust. We do not believe they are fit to work with children.

/ENDS

(more…)

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Lord Carey PTO : statement from the Rt Revd Dr Steven Croft, Bishop of Oxford

As we reported here, it emerged earlier this month that the Bishop of Oxford had given Lord Carey permission to officiate (PTO) back in February. The Bishop of Oxford issued the following statement today.

Lord Carey PTO : statement from the Rt Revd Dr Steven Croft, Bishop of Oxford

“Along with many others, I am sorry and ashamed to hear again this week of the abuse perpetrated by Peter Ball, and the way in which the Church of England failed to respond to the survivors over such a long period of time and at the most senior level. The whole Church needs to respond to what has been revealed with repentance, improved practice and a continued change of culture.

“We recognise that there will be renewed questions concerning Lord Carey’s Permission to Officiate following the IICSA hearings this week and I am sorry that my response to Lord Carey’s request for PTO in February this year caused additional distress to some survivors of abuse.

“When Lord Carey stepped down from his role as an Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of Oxford following the publication of the Gibb report in 2017 it also meant that he was no longer able to preside over services at his local church. There were no legal grounds for me to deny Lord Carey’s request for PTO in February this year as he was not subject to a disciplinary process, and there has never been any suggestion that he is himself a risk to children, young people or vulnerable adults.

“Lord Carey’s PTO remains in place at this time, providing him with a safe space to exercise his ministry. However, as part of the Church of England’s ongoing response to IICSA, there will now be a process of review and support offered to Lord Carey by the Diocese of Oxford together with the National Safeguarding Team.”

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IICSA Peter Ball hearings Day 5

The transcript for the final day, Friday, is available here.

The documents number 89 and are listed here. Individual links here. More details later.

Media reports

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IICSA Peter Ball hearings Day 4

The transcript of Thursday’s hearing is now available.  Gregor McGill, Andrew Nunn, Ros Hunt and Bishop Frank Sergeant were interviewed.

There are 50 documents as listed here.  Individual links here. More details later.

Media reports

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IICSA Peter Ball hearings Day 3

The transcript for Wednesday’s hearing is now published. Witnesses questioned were Andrew Purkis, Wayne Murdock, and Carwyn Hughes. Statements from Lady Alice Renton and Ian Beer were also read out.

There is a list of 35 documents, and the links to all of them are here. More details later.

Media reports:

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IICSA Peter Ball hearings Day 2

The transcript of Tuesday’s hearing is now available here. The entire day was taken up with questioning Lord Carey.

There are no less than 43 documents published, see Index and full set of links Here are six of them:

Media reports:

The National Secular Society reported it too: “Establishment” helped abusive bishop evade justice, inquiry hears.

IICSA video recordings are available: Morning Afternoon 1 Afternoon 2

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IICSA Peter Ball hearings Day 1

The transcript of the first day is now available here.

Three documents have been published:

  • Press release – message from the Archbishop of Canterbury being read out in churches throughout the Gloucester Diocese on the first Sunday of the New Year 3rd January 1993
  • Letter from Peter Ball to AN-A117
  • Correspondence between Bishop John Yates and and AN-A10 in 1992-1993 regarding Peter Ball

The lawyer representing the Archbishops’ Council read this opening statement.

Media reports:

IICSA video recordings:

 

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New CofE policy on granting of Permission to Officiate

The Church of England’s House of Bishops Delegation Committee has approved a new Policy on Granting Permission to Officiate.

The Church Times reports: Clerics under investigation for abuse may be barred from ministering under new safeguarding rules.

PERMISSION to officiate (PTO) will be refused or withdrawn from clerics who are under police investigation over allegations of past child or vulnerable adult abuse, new guidance from the National Safeguarding Team of the Church of England states.

It also states that PTO may be withdrawn or refused by the bishop, even if the investigation of the cleric has concluded, and no conviction made.

“Where a cleric has been the subject of a criminal investigation for offences relating to children and vulnerable adults that did not result in a conviction, again the bishop must consult the diocesan safeguarding advisor and the diocesan registrar before deciding whether to grant PTO.”

Appropriate reasons for withdrawing PTO listed in the document include “following an allegation of abuse in a cleric’s past ministry pending the police investigation”.

In addition, PTO must be refused when a cleric has accepted a police caution; an allegation of abuse has been proved in court; or the cleric has been barred from working with children or vulnerable adults…

There is of course a lot more to the document, which is 47 pages long (main part 25 pages, followed by 8 annexes).

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IICSA announces timetable for hearings on Peter Ball

IICSA has published this timetable for next week’s public hearings, 23 to 27 July (from 10 am daily).

Former archbishop, Lord Carey, is due to appear on Tuesday.

As during the previous hearings, TA will try to provide daily links to the transcripts and to some of the key documents.

The Guardian has this news story: Prince Charles to give evidence on bishop to child abuse inquiry.

The BBC has this: Prince Charles to give evidence at Peter Ball abuse inquiry.

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Letters to a Broken Church

A group of abuse survivors and their supporters are seeking £3000 to publish a dynamic collaborative book speaking to the Church of England. Contributors include survivors, academics, theologians, commentators, lawyers, leading church figures.

Funding breakdown: £1000 publishing costs,  £1300 publicity, £700 Kindle & fees = £3000 Total

Any profits will go to MACSAS (Minister and Clergy Sexual Abuse Survivors). No contributor is being paid. We are offering the work in the hope of seeing meaningful and critical change in the Church of England’s pastoral, structural, and psychological response to victims and survivors of abuse.

The book will include a wide variety of themes, with some stories and interviews. It will also feature some real letters sent to Lambeth Palace, House of Bishops, and Synod during the past few years…

Follow this link for more details.

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Lord Carey permitted to resume public ministry

Updated Saturday afternoon

Harriet Sherwood reports in the Guardian that the Bishop of Oxford, Steven Croft has permitted former archbishop George Carey to resume public ministry. Her report is headlined George Carey allowed church role despite part in abuse cover-up.

George Carey, the former archbishop of Canterbury who was heavily criticised in an independent report for his part in the cover-up of sexual abuse carried out by a bishop, has been allowed to resume an official role in the Church of England.

Lord Carey stepped down last year as an honorary assistant bishop at the unprecedented request of Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury, after a damning report which found the church had colluded over the abuse.

But it emerged this week that Carey has been granted “permission to officiate” (PTO) by Steven Croft, the bishop of Oxford, allowing him to preach and preside at churches in the diocese. Croft is reportedly under police investigation for allegedly failing to respond properly to a separate report of clerical sexual abuse.

The decision to grant the PTO was made in February despite expectations of further revelations this month about Carey’s role in the case of Peter Ball, a former bishop of Gloucester, at the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse (IICSA)…

Statement from the Diocese of Oxford on the granting  of “permission to officiate” (PTO) of the Most Rev. George Carey by the Rt. Rev. Steven Croft:

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 has apologised to the victims of Peter Ball.

In February 2018 Lord Carey contacted the Diocese of Oxford to request PTO (permission to officiate). This was granted by the Bishop of Oxford later the same month.

The granting of PTO enabled Lord Carey to preach and preside in the church where he worships, a church where his ministry is much valued. The granting of a PTO does not indicate a planned return to the role of Assistant Bishop.

Concerning the police investigation mentioned above, the Guardian report continues:

…Croft is one of several senior church figures, including John Sentamu, the archbishop of York, who are reportedly being investigated by South Yorkshire police over alleged failures to act on disclosures of an alleged rape of a teenage boy by a clergyman in the 1980s. The force declined to confirm or deny an investigation was under way.

Matthew Ineson claims he was raped by the Rev Trevor Devamanikkam, and in 2012 and 2013 reported the crime to senior figures in the church, including Croft. He alleges they failed to follow proper procedures and did not advise him to tell police.

Devamanikkam was later charged with indecent assault and buggery without consent, but killed himself in 2017 before coming to trial.

A spokesperson for the diocese of Oxford said: “Written records and notes taken at the time give a different picture to the one Mr Ineson is presenting about how his case has been handled.”

An independent review had been commissioned by the C of E’s national safeguarding team, the spokesperson said…

Updates

Earlier, another report on this subject had appeared in Private Eye. This article is now on the web: Cover-up of a cover-up.

There is now also a report in the TelegraphFormer Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey given permission to preach by the Church of England.

The BBC has reported (5.5 minutes in…) that Lambeth Palace was consulted by the diocese before this action was taken.

Premier Radio has this: Former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey allowed to preach his church again.

The Daily Mail has: Former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey is allowed to preach again just weeks before child sex inquiry looks into allegations that he ‘covered up’ abuse.

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Time for General Synod to protest?

Ahead of the General Synod debate on Saturday  (see our earlier articles first here, and then here) Martin Sewell has written a detailed analysis of the current situation regarding safeguarding in the Church of England, which has been published at the Archbishop Cranmer blog:

It is time for General Synod to protest: victims of sexual abuse deserve better than ‘adequate’

Martin refers also to the Singleton report, whose publication we reported here, and then again over here. Martin incorporates into his article (scroll down some way) a further analysis of Singleton prepared by ‘Gilo’.

Although this is long, it is worth a very careful read.

As @His_Grace has tweeted

By giving no prior debate, so little time to digest the material, so little briefing material, and no alternative, the Bishops and senior ranks of the are treating their General colleagues and victims of abuse with some disdain”

I don’t often say this, but the below-the-line comments on that article are also worth reading.

 

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More about the Singleton report

There has been extensive media coverage of this, following its publication last Friday.

This morning’s Sunday programme on BBC Radio 4 carried a 9 minute segment including interviews with David Greenwood and Bishop Peter Hancock. You can listen to that in full here.

Telegraph Church of England downplayed extent of child abuse allegations to protect its reputation, report finds

The Church of England disregarded dozens of allegations in its inquiry into child sexual abuse and then downplayed the issue to protect its reputation, a critical report has found.

A report by former Barnardo’s chief executive Sir Roger Singleton found that close to 100 cases were whittled down to just a handful for a review released in 2010…

BBC Church of England ‘needs to review’ abuse inquiry in seven dioceses

Times (£) Church of England inquiry missed abusers, review finds

ITV Church of England’s 2010 review of sex abuse was ‘botched’ and ‘flawed’

Christian Today Church review of abuse cases failed to show full picture

Press Association via Guardian C of E ordered investigation after ‘botched’ 2010 abuse inquiry

And there is more:

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Singleton report on Past Cases Review published

The Church of England has today published a report into its handling of the 2007-2009 Past Cases Review. The full text of the report can be downloaded from here.

There is a press release: Report into handling of Past Cases Review which explains the background. Sir Roger Singleton authored the report and chaired the independent scrutiny team.

…In November 2015, in his report to the Archbishops’ Council, the newly appointed National Safeguarding Adviser noted ‘growing recognition of shortcomings of PCR’; inconsistencies in the application of the House of Bishops Protocol designed to bring consistency and independence to the process, cases of abuse coming to light that should have been identified in the PCR and survivors not being engaged in the process.

Following an initial screening process by the National Safeguarding Team, Sir Roger Singleton was asked to independently review the adequacy of the Past Cases Review and makes recommendations to the Church of England.

The report sets out the findings of this independent scrutiny and makes nine recommendations. These have been accepted by both the Archbishops’ Council and House of Bishops, and action is now being taken to address both the shortcomings of the original PCR and to instigate a further review known cases and new appointments made since 2007.

Today’s report will be sent to the Independent Inquiry for Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) to which Sir Roger Singleton gave evidence during the Chichester Case Study public hearing in March of this year…

The BBC had a report about this earlier, Church of England ‘s 2010 abuse inquiry was ‘flawed’ and ‘failed‘, which currently notes that the report is not due to be published until next month. There were items on the Radio 4 Today programme about this too, including an interview with Sir Roger Singleton.

There has also been a Press Association report published at Care AppointmentsInquiry into Church of England historic sexual abuse was ‘botched’.

…The PCR looked at more than 40,000 case files relating to allegations of abuse dating as far back as the 1950s and concluded that just 13 cases of alleged child sexual abuse needed formal action.

After survivors complained that the report was inadequate, Sir Roger was commissioned to carry out an independent review of how it was conducted.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that it was “botched in three ways”.

“The survey wasn’t completely comprehensive,” he said. “It didn’t include some cathedrals, it didn’t include employees working with children in some parishes.

“The attempts really to make the survey absolutely complete were flawed.

“In the public statement that it issued reporting on the review, (the Church) rather failed to give a comprehensive picture of the concerns that existed.

“It narrowed down the definitions of who had actually been responsible for abuse by limiting it to just new cases and cases where the Church took formal action. This had the impact of reducing the numbers from probably nearer 100 to just two which appeared in the public statements.”

Asked whether he found that Church officials were concerned to avoid reputational damage, Sir Roger said: “I think that is one of the factors that led those who prepared the press statement to emphasise the positive points for the Church and rather to downplay the negative aspects.”

He said it appeared “extraordinary” that some survivors were denied the chance to give evidence.

“There is no doubt that some victims and survivors came forward and offered to meet with the reviewers carrying out this work and that offer was refused,” he said.

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National Safeguarding Steering Group identifies priorities

This morning, GS 2092 Report by the National Safeguarding Steering Group has been published.

For the context, see our earlier article: Safeguarding debate at General Synod.

The Church Times has a report: National register proposed for clergy to ease safeguarding concerns.

Update: The Bishop of London has published a blog article: Safeguarding – independence V responsibility? This also appears at Christian Today.

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Safeguarding debate at General Synod

On Saturday morning, 7 July, following Morning Worship and a Presidential Address by the Archbishop of York, the synod will consider the topic of Safeguarding. There will be a presentation, followed by questions, followed by a debate. However, the relevant document, GS 2092 will not be published until Friday 22 June but we do now know the wording of the motion that will be proposed. It is highly likely to attract numerous amendments.

SAFEGUARDING (GS 2092)

7 Presentation under SO 107.

Note: The Business Committee has determined under SO 107(3) that this presentation should include an opportunity for questions.

8 The Bishop of Bath and Wells to move:

That this Synod, recognising that safeguarding is at the heart of Christian mission and the urgent need for the Church of England to continue to become a safer place for all and a refuge for those who suffer abuse in any context:

(a) endorse the priorities for action outlined in the report (GS 2092); and

(b) call on the House of Bishops and the Archbishops’ Council to ensure that the plan of action is implemented as a matter of priority.

GS Misc 1192 Summary of decisions by the House of Bishops and Delegated Committees, contains brief reports of various meetings that have considered Safeguarding. The relevant extracts are copied below the fold. I have changed the order of the meetings to put them in chronological order.

(more…)

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