Thinking Anglicans

Charity Commission letter: further reports

Updated twice on Monday afternoon (scroll down)

Surviving Church has a further article: Micah 6:8 and the Letter to the Charity Commission.

…The letter to the CC would seem to have made some considerable impact since it appeared on Tuesday last.  It seems to be saying two fundamental things.  It was, first of all, accusing the Church of England and especially the Archbishop’s Council and the National Safeguarding Team of authorising and using legal processes to cope with safeguarding issues in inconsistent and secretive ways – such that do not further the cause of justice.  The letter was also suggesting that in the administration of these in-house forms of justice, fundamental ethical and biblical principles were being ignored.  Although not mentioned in the text of the letter, it is apparent that the authors were thinking about the passage in Micah 6 about the importance of justice etc.  Gilo makes clear this connection of ideas by calling the appeal for additional signatures, the Micah 6:8 initiative…

The Church Times has this report: Money for abuse survivors is dwarfed by legal and admin bill.

SURVIVORS of abuse in a church context receive about £55,000 in redress from the Church of England out of an estimated £20 million spent on safeguarding annually, independent research released this week suggests.

The estimates were collated by Dr Josephine Anne Stein, who is an independent researcher, policy analyst, and survivor of ecclesiastical abuse (Comment, 6 April 2018). She completed the work in response to a question from Canon Rosie Harper during the February General Synod meeting, at which an increase in the redress given to survivors was agreed (News, 14 February)…

The article contains a lot more detail on what is included in the estimates.

The BBC Sunday radio programme today has a lengthy report on the letter to the Charity Commision, starting at about 31 minutes into the programme here. This includes interviews with both Lord Carlile and Bishop Jonathan Gibbs which are very informative and interesting. I recommend listening to the whole segment.

Updates

Archbishop Cranmer has an article by Martin Sewell: Lead Safeguarding Bishop to critics: “You don’t understand”. Two extracts:

..One of the most extraordinary claims by the Lead Safeguarding Bishop, Jonathan Gibbs, was the notion that critics of the NST ‘core groups’ misunderstood their character and functioning. The signatories to the letter include Lord (Alex) Carlile QC, who was the reviewer chosen by the Church of England to conduct the comprehensive review into the Bishop George Bell ‘core group’ process. He made significant recommendations for the improvement of the system and these were accepted by the Archbishops on behalf of the Church.

Those recommendations have not been implemented…

And

…All in all, the Bishop’s press release advances what we in the legal profession sometimes refer to as a “very brave” position. Renaming a function does not change its reality: it is like insisting that a duck is a platypus; the walk and the quack tend to give it away. You can rename what you do a “statutory strategy meeting” if you want, but if you lack a ‘conflicts of interest’ policy, an appeal system, and fail to take minutes, and sit a communications officer at the table but not a competent lawyer, and don’t run a system where those at risk of catastrophic consequence of malpractice either as complainant or respondent have confidence, you will continue to have dissatisfaction…

The Church Times has published this: Safeguarding bishop sides with critics of the Church of England’s policy which includes the following:

…He later told BBC Radio 4’s Sunday, however: “In one sense, I welcome this letter, because it adds weight to my desire to bring about the kind of root-and-branch change that we all long for: in particular in the way in which we respond to survivors, the way in which we deal with complaints, the way in which we change the culture of the Church.”

The letter to the Charity Commission, which also criticises the “impaired transparency and intermittent accountability” of the NST, calls for a complete reform of safeguarding practice and policy within the C of E. It urges the Church not to wait for the final report of the Anglican investigation by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), which is due to be published this autumn (News, 1 May), before acting.

Dr Gibbs told the programme: “There is no doubt that, in the past, our systems have failed considerably, and that was made very clear during IICSA. That made very painful listening for all of us involved in the Church and our hearts go out to and our principle focus must be on survivors, and improving the way in which we respond to survivors. . .

“There is still a long way to go. There is journey; but it is a journey to which we are absolutely committed. . . The direction of travel is going to be substantially influenced by the IICSA report when it comes out very shortly. We made clear our commitment to that journey of change especially in the debate at the General Synod back in February” (News, 14 February).

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Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
1 month ago

Stephen Parsons of ‘Surviving Church’ notes that the Charities Commission Letter “would seem to have made some considerable impact since it appeared on Tuesday last”. It would seem so and those who courageously organised such an initiative are to be commended. But has it made those who have been responsible for such injustices ‘sit up and take notice’, apologise for wrongdoings and immediately start to right the obvious wrongs? There is little to no evidence of that so far. There is little need for the powers-that-be to take any immediate remedial action, not least because the Charities Commission will take… Read more »

David Lamming
David Lamming
1 month ago

Richard, Since, as one of those who, in your words, “courageously organised” the letter calling on the Charity Commission “to exercise its powers of intervention to address the failures of the Archbishops’ Council of the Church of England to devise a safe, consistent and fair system of redress to all parties engaged in safeguarding complaints”, my reason for not signing your open letter calling for the resignation of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of Chichester has nothing to do with “fear of the consequences.” As I explained in an e-mail to you on 13th August, my firm view… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
1 month ago
Reply to  David Lamming

David, as you might recall, here was my reply back to you on 13 Aug: “Neither is going to resign over this” – I have little to no doubt that is the case – which only goes to show, to my mind, that the “serious current issue that the Church of England needs to address” will not be effectively addressed. Therefore, it is a resigning matter. “the wartime Bishop of Chichester” whose reputation has been restored/vindicated” . But Bishop Bell’s reputation hasn’t been fully restored/vindicated, has it? Archbishop Justin Welby and Bishop Martin Warner still consider there is a “significant cloud” hanging… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
1 month ago

As to your comment: “your letter could be seen as an unwanted distraction from the serious current issues that the Church of England need to address”

This injustice over Bishop Bell, which ++Welby and +Warner could clear up ‘overnight’ if they had the moral will and courage to do so, is yet another ‘elephant in the room‘ at General Synod….yet another “unwanted distraction”.

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
1 month ago

May I share just one of a number of emails received about the ‘resignation’ letter – from a Lady [literally] who I have met and, believe me, is far more angry than I am: “I find myself in a very difficult position in that as a churchwarden I am a bishop’s officer. I am outraged by the behaviour of all these dreadful people who have no idea of justice. Reading any of the information relating to the incredible injustices perpetrated against Bishop Bell and now other Bishops currently serving (or trying to serve!), I am embarrassed to be involved with… Read more »

Stanley Monkhouse
1 month ago

RWS, your correspondent writes: “I am embarrassed to be involved with the CoE. However, it is not the fault of parish churches and their parishioners, many of whom know nothing about the politics of the CoE.” And that is the situation for, I suspect, the vast majority of churchgoers. They don’t follow church politics – not interested. They serve the church and their Lord as best they know how. They know nothing of gender reassignment renaming liturgies and other stuff that hits the red top headlines. They don’t want a fuss about gay marriage – not even an issue – but… Read more »

Graeme Buttery
Graeme Buttery
1 month ago

I have currently, the inestimable privilege of being a priest in one of the more “exciting” parishes in the CofE. I also have the privilege of being on General Synod and some of the other bits and bobs of the national church structures. I can say 2 things. Firstly I personally find an increasing chasm between centre and elsewhere. Secondly, my good folk worship God, celebrate the sacraments pray and try to love their neighbour. The obsessions of church politics and the issues to do with gender and sexuality never raise their heads from one year to the next. Graeme… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
1 month ago

“Survivors of abuse in a church context receive about £55,000 in redress from the Church of England out of an estimated £20 million spent on safeguarding annually, independent research released this week suggests.” It is not clear what the aggregate annual expenditure is on compensation. Nor is it clear whether the £20m is spread across the Church as a whole, or just spent by its central functions (hopefully the latter). It is now clearer than ever that the Church cannot be relied upon to conduct safeguarding at all. Of course, as IICSA has revealed in excruciating detail, the Church is… Read more »

Judith Maltby
Judith Maltby
1 month ago

Lord Carlile, in the Radio 4 Sunday Programme, rightly highlighted the Church’s poor track record with conflict of interest – that is, we are so collectively and institutionally bad at recognising and addressing it. I’ve long thought that this is because raising concerns over conflict of interest is heard as an attack on someone’s decency and integrity: – e.g. yes, two members of the appointment committee are married to each other, or yes, the ordinand’s sponsoring bishop is their parent – but when raised the comeback is ‘you’re not suggesting that anyone would behave improperly, are you (i.e. how dare… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
1 month ago
Reply to  Judith Maltby

As Lord Carlile has said: “Anyone with a conflict of interest must leave the deliberations and take no further part. This is what lawyers understand as the law of apparent bias. It’s not to say that such people are biased, that’s often misunderstood. It is the appearance of bias that matters” This is established, accepted practice in law-abiding secular institutions such as a Borough Council planning meeting. It is astonishing and shocking the Church of England – and its lawyers – have failed so disgracefully in this respect. But as Lord Carlile says: “I do not believe that the Church… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Richard W. Symonds
Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
1 month ago

It’s very unfortunate that, in what is already a very fraught subject, we are not told clearly what the figure of “about £55,000” represents. Is that an average ‘tariff’ settlement paid to an individual survivor whose claim is accepted by the Church, or is it the total expenditure on claims in an annual period corresponding to the £20 million? The latter seems improbable, but we can’t work on assumptions and, as Froghole points out, a meaningful comparison can only be based on total payments.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
1 month ago

Thank you for that clarification. The arithmetic is pretty startling. It would be interesting to know how many claims, if more than one, are included in that amount. Compensation ‘Tariiffs’, when used, ought to reflect both the gravity of the abuse and the extent of the resultant damage done to the abused person. The Courts use Judicial Guidelines for Assessment of Damages but, of course, that is in the context of litigation which most survivors (and, I imagine, the Church) prefer to avoid. As an alternative, the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority is a far more user-friendly, entirely independent and reliable… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
1 month ago

Many thanks for seeking this clarification and for these very helpful recommendations. I suppose it is therefore crucial to know how many cases the Church processes in each year. We have some data, as here for example: https://www.churchofengland.org/safeguarding/promoting-safer-church/news-and-views/safeguarding-data-2018, and some reportage, as here: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jun/19/church-of-england-reveals-50-rise-in-abuse-claims-and-concerns. Obviously there is a time lag before the data is collated and published and one or two cases might have a radical impact upon the annual number if a payout does result. The question is then whether the £55,000 is indeed an average for the whole Church, and over how many years. Either way, it is… Read more »

Judith Maltby
Judith Maltby
1 month ago

Having raised the conflict of interest point above, in regard to Martin Sewell’s Abp Cranmer piece, does anyone know how the Data Controller system works? Who decides who is in that role? What is the system of accountability?

Gilo
Gilo
1 month ago
Reply to  Judith Maltby

It has recently been discovered that in one diocese the diocesan bishop is the Data Controller. Which as you can imagine is problematic for a survivor trying to access material on a case in which the same Bishop was subject of a CDM (dismissed) in relation to the same case. Yet another glaring example of conflict of interest. The Bishop is accountable to himself alone. Whether this is mirrored elsewhere we don’t yet know. The senior layer continue to enjoy a good deal of protection… but not Deans of Oxford colleges. They are dragged through a kafkaesque version of safeguarding… Read more »

Judith Maltby
Judith Maltby
1 month ago
Reply to  Gilo

Thank you, Gilo. So, that I’ve got this clear: you’re saying the very individual against whom a complaint has been made, is deciding which paperwork is disclosed and what redactions are made in response to that same complaint?

Gilo
Gilo
1 month ago
Reply to  Judith Maltby

Yes. The complaint was dismissed as I understand on basis of time limits. But yes, the complainant in seeking access to data on the case has discovered that the Bishop is data controller.

And the Bishop in this instance is on the National Safeguarding Steering Group (NSSG).

You couldn’t make it up! Martin Sewell has included a paragraph about the situation in the latest Archbishop Cranmer piece.

Judith Maltby
Judith Maltby
1 month ago
Reply to  Gilo

Thank you, Gilo. I had understood that the time limit clause for a CDM no longer applied to safeguarding matters and that a complainant wasn’t required to go through yet another hurdle to get an exemption from the time limit. Is that yet another thing I’ve misunderstood?

Matthew Ineson
Matthew Ineson
1 month ago
Reply to  Judith Maltby

Hi Judith. No that isnt the case. It was only amended that the one year rule would not apply to complaints against those accused of actual abuse. The one year rule still applies to complaints against those who ignored disclosures, failed to take action against clergy or anything else. How do you think your diocesan protected himself? He, along with other bishops, were written to by the church asking whether they consented/agreed to the one year rule being waived in the complaint against them. They all wrote back objecting to the waiving of the one year rule. At IICSA last… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
1 month ago
Reply to  Matthew Ineson

No comfort to you, I fully realise, but the one-year rule can, and has been, disapplied in non-‘direct abuse’ cases. That was certainly done in the case of the former Bishop of Chester, Dr Peter Forster.

Judith Maltby
Judith Maltby
1 month ago
Reply to  Matthew Ineson

Thank you for responding to my question, Matt, which must be costly every time you do. I think we (by which I mean the wider church/public, not survivors who have known this for a long time) have become aware, especially via IICSA and reports such as Gibb on Ball, that poor response in dealing with disclosures is also a serious failure in terms of safeguarding. I know that survivors speak of it as a re-abuse – it is not for me to speak for survivors. What you describe, that there is still a requirement via the President of Tribunals to… Read more »

Gilo
Gilo
1 month ago
Reply to  Judith Maltby

Judith, it’s worth looking at a particular IICSA case study to see what happens when a diocesan safeguarding team brings a CDM against a serving bishop in the diocese. Two CDMs in fact, plus another against an archdeacon. All three were dismissed. Bishop Wallace Benn was able to claim that the complaints were without foundation and that he had been “exonerated”. That’s some distortion of reality when time limit was the principal reason for their dismissal. Not dissimilar to the confident claim that Bishop Martyn Snow made in an interview on BBC Look North that the complaints against the bishops… Read more »

Cassandra
Cassandra
1 month ago
Reply to  Gilo

On the Wikipedia point, whoever made the now-deleted changes could of course reinstate them and explain on the Talk page why they did that and explain in even more detail what their evidence is…

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
1 month ago
Reply to  Judith Maltby

“Who decides who is in that role [of Data Controller]? Presumably the Master Puppeteers who are pulling the strings of the ‘Puppets’ such as Data Controller Bishop Martyn Snow and Safeguarding Bishop Jonathan Gibbs. And presumably the Master Puppeteers who can rename Core Groups to Statutory Strategy Meetings, refuse to formulate a ‘conflicts of interest’ policy or appeals system, fail to take minutes and allow a PR communications expert to sit at the table instead of a lawyer with professional integrity. Such shadowy figures live in a smoke & mirrors world so will be difficult to make accountable. So, who… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
1 month ago

In reply, also to Judith Maltby, the Data Protection Act 2018 is an incredibly complex piece of legislation and it requires someone with greater expertise than mine to answer your question. Usually the explanatory notes to an Act run to a few paragraphs tacked on at the end. In the case of this Act they run to 126 pages. This is not bedtime reading. They can be found on the government legislation website: Data Protection Act 2018, Explanatory Notes. The Act sets out the legal principles for data protection, the duties of the data controller and data subjects’ rights including… Read more »

Jane Chevous
1 month ago

Incredibly unprofessional to have a meeting like that with no minutes! With my core group, I have been able to ask for (redacted) minutes through a SAR request, and have received them. My caseworker has also talked me through the discussions and decisions that I am allowed to know about. There is some movement. But absolutely they need more than a rename. I can see that a risk management process needs to happen, and parts of that are correctly confidential, as they are more like disciplinary or HR issues. What I cannot see is why there cannot be a more… Read more »

Jane Chevous
1 month ago
Reply to  Judith Maltby

I assume each Diocese decides its own. In terms of accountability, all organisations and data controllers are answerable to the Information Commissioner and there can be significant financial penalties for a data breach.

Jane Chevous
1 month ago

Another example of conflict of interest, inability to adequately investigate and data protection anomalies is in my current case being led by the NST. Most of my questions about the process remain unanswered because of DPA. One of my abusers died 5 months into the investigation, without being interviewed, and with no warning to me (because of DPA). On learning that I was not the only survivor that 2 bishops were negligent in their response to report of serious safeguarding issues, I raised concern that this was a systemic issue and asked for confirmation this was being investigated. They refused… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
1 month ago
Reply to  Jane Chevous

Many thanks! Further to the remarks that you, Judith Maltby, Gilo and Richard Symonds have made, I guess it is the case that the bishop, as a corporation sole, may indeed be the relevant data controller. However, it is possible that a DBF, for example, might also be a data controller if it is the legal body responsible for processing the personal data of the applicable data subjects. However, a data controller should, if the circumstances require, appoint a data protection officer (DPO): https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/guide-to-data-protection/guide-to-the-general-data-protection-regulation-gdpr/accountability-and-governance/data-protection-officers/. The Information Commissioner (ICO) can impose a large fine if the appointment is necessary but is… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Froghole
Pete Broadbent
Pete Broadbent
1 month ago
Reply to  Froghole

The Bishop who holds the Blue Files (usually the Diocesan, though in London the Area Bishops and Bishops of Fulham) is by definition the Data Controller for clergy and licensed lay ministers’ data. The DBF or equivalent is the data controller for all other diocesan data. We often have to do a joint response to a GDPR-related enquiry (for example, safeguarding matters dealt with the Bishop and by the Diocesan Safeguarding Team).

Froghole
Froghole
1 month ago
Reply to  Pete Broadbent

Very many thanks, Bishop Pete. I would have thought dioceses should have DPOs, because even if they will not necessarily be processing personal data on a bulk basis (like a major retailer), they will be processing enough – not just in relation to stipendiaries, but also PTO clergy, readers, pastoral assistants, parish officers, etc., to make the appointment worthwhile. However, it is possible that many dioceses will have taken legal advice, further to which they have decided not to employ a DPO. Yet if the ICO were to determine that the appointment is necessary – not least because of some… Read more »

Pete Broadbent
Pete Broadbent
1 month ago
Reply to  Froghole

We will all have a DPO – it’s a requirement. So we have an officer who is employed by the LDF (DBF) to endure GDPR compliance and to monitor actions taken. All clergy files, irrespective of status are held as Blue Files – SSM, PTO – there is no difference in terms of what has to be processed (including DBS checks and ensuring up to date safeguarding training). It would be unfeasible (and utterly impractical) to make Diocesan financial and administrative functions something to be carried out nationally. You only have to look at the pig’s ear that the NST… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
1 month ago
Reply to  Pete Broadbent

Very many thanks for taking the trouble to respond, Bishop Pete. That is most kind.

I suppose I was thinking of the payroll being managed having been managed cost effectively by the Commissioners. However, I cannot disagree with you about the NST, though I appreciate that they have been trying as far as they can.

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
1 month ago
Reply to  Pete Broadbent

As I understand it the data controller is the day to day manager of the data, and the data protection officer is required to carry out an independent, oversight and audit function. In the appointment of the DPO any organisation should be able to demonstrate how that independence is guaranteed. So in the examples discussed earlier in this thread, if complainants were unhappy with how the data controller (the bishop) had carried out his duties, or there was a conflict of interest, then could the complainant appeal to the DPO?

Will Richards
Will Richards
1 month ago

Just as an aside (and I recognise this may be more appropriate to the initial thread about the letter to the Charity Commissioners) around conflicts of interest and the role of the Bishop at Lambeth as part of the NST’s processes: a parish priest mentioned to me recently that he and several others he knew were very reluctant to apply for grants and other help from Sons & Friends of the Clergy because of the Bishop at Lambeth’s membership of the grant-awarding body. In particular, he cited one applicant for a grant, who had not disclosed his application beyond the… Read more »

Gilo
Gilo
1 month ago
Reply to  Will Richards

I know several people who might be interested in your elaboration. 7 of us wrote a letter concerning the Bishop at Lambeth as reported in Church Times (11 August 2020). Separately, seven survivors have written to Dr Gibbs, to the director of safeguarding, Melissa Caslake, and to the chair of the National Safeguarding Panel, Meg Munn, calling for the Bishop at Lambeth, the Rt Revd Tim Thornton, to step down from the National Safeguarding Steering Group and National Safeguarding Panel, pending further safeguarding training. The letter refers to internal email correspondence from Bishop Thornton about one of the survivors. The… Read more »

Alison Menage
Alison Menage
1 month ago

Please please keep these issues in the spotlight. Good job so far. Always afraid CE will bury them as on previous occasions! Something has to change!!

Fr Paul Williamson
Fr Paul Williamson
1 month ago
Reply to  Alison Menage

I have been the victim of bullying, victimization , and a campaign to discredit me. Not even the Disclosure process is immune from the manipulation of bishops. I have had Perjury used against me twice. Documents go missing repeatedly. The mitred Mafia must be brought to heel, and transparency and christianity and total fairness rule in all departments and dealings of the Church. At present they act like the power-crazed management of a banana republic out of control defending their power base (money and pink dresses) regardless of damage to anyone so long as they remain in control.

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
1 month ago

The visible “mitred mafia” are the master puppets – its the master-puppeteers with hidden hands pulling the strings who need exposing. Conspiracy theory? We shall see soon enough.

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