Thinking Anglicans

ISB controversy continues

Updated yet again Tuesday afternoon

Two dismissed members of the now defunct Independent Safeguarding Board dispute the claims made by the Archbishops’ Council. See this report in the Church Times: Hundreds support us, say sacked members of Independent Safeguarding Board.

A synod paper published today, GS Misc 1341, is titled Independent Safeguarding Board: recent developments. I do recommend reading this document, which will be among those discussed at the General Synod on Sunday 9 July.

The BBC lunchtme radio news programme. The World At One, carried interviews with Bishop Julie Conalty, Deputy Lead Bishop for Safeguarding. and Alison Coulter, an elected lay member of the Archbishops’ Council.

A full transcript is available here (not yet checked for accuracy against recording).  The BBC’s own audio recording is available here.
Other audio recordings (courtesy of Mandate Now) can be found here (Conalty) and here (Coulter).

See also

earlier press coverage:

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‘Adrian’
‘Adrian’
11 months ago

https://www.bathandwells.org.uk/independent-safeguarding-board-bishop-michael-response.php

Several hours ago B & W issued a Diocesan Statement from Bishop Michael on the ISB.
I understand a final draft was shared with at least one survivor and at least one change was made as a result.

Would other Dioceses consider doing something similar ahead of GS in an attempt to reassure whistleblowers and survivors?

peter kettle
peter kettle
11 months ago

The interview with Alison Coulter contained possibly the longest silence ever on radio before she replied as to whether the Church was still allowing perpetrators to escape being called to account. Very telling. The audio recording of the whole TWAO is easily available on the internet

Alwyn Hall
Alwyn Hall
Reply to  peter kettle
11 months ago

It is telling that Archbishops’ Council offered up Alison Coulter as their sacrificial lamb on TWAO. She is one of its newest members. I note that neither of the Archbishops appear to have put themselves forward for interview.

Given the CofE’s apparent view that ‘reputation management’ trumps everything, including pastoral care, did they not give her a media briefing beforehand and try to think about the questions she may be asked?

It demonstrates how the senior leadership team of the CofE will throw one of their own under a bus in order to save their own skins. It is pathetic.

Last edited 11 months ago by Alwyn Hall
Realist
Realist
Reply to  Alwyn Hall
11 months ago

Ms Coulter is not quite so ‘green’ as one might be forgiven for thinking on the evidence of this embarrassing train wreck of an interview. She is a physiotherapist by initial training, who went into a public health specialism, and has some 20 years of experience in NHS management (where, incidentally, the playbook of cover up, obscure, stonewall, discredit those who are whistleblowers, bury the opposition is also horribly commonplace, in my experience). She is now a Director of a very shiny looking Leadership Consultancy company, which trains senior executives. She is also Lay Chair of Winchester Diocesan Synod. I… Read more »

Alwyn Hall
Alwyn Hall
Reply to  Realist
11 months ago

You make several valid points that are duly noted. Thank you.

Just one minor correction: she is the former Lay Chair of Winchester Diocesan Synod, not the current one.

Realist
Realist
Reply to  Alwyn Hall
11 months ago

Belated thanks for pointing out that error. Much appreciated.

I take it from what you share that she was the Lay Chair in the +Dakin era, but not for the post-Dakin rebuilding?

If that’s accurate, it certainly raises some questions for me about her capacity for leadership and ability to exercise the kind of independence in oversight that can be so usefully provided by senior laity on Diocesan synods, given what happened in Winchester.

Last edited 11 months ago by Realist
#churchtoo
#churchtoo
Reply to  Alwyn Hall
11 months ago

Totally agree

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Alwyn Hall
11 months ago

Having listened to it, I suspect it would have been less worse had the Council not put up anyone for comment, so that Ms Montague could at least have said “we asked the Church for comment, but no one was available”, as is usually the case when an institution is too embarrassed to put itself up for humiliation. It was excruciatingly evident within only a few seconds’ that Ms Coulter could not hope to put any lipstick on this particular pig. I hope that she has been able to deliver some choice observations on the experience to her colleagues.

‘Adrian’
‘Adrian’
11 months ago

‘The victims and survivors I spoke with don’t have confidence in the Church. It is not seen as a safe place.’ Meg Munn wrote this about the Church. But not the C of E. The Methodist Church!  Today the Bishop of Birkenhead confirmed what we had all known: Meg could have been talking about the C of E (for whose safeguarding of course Meg is now Notionally/comically responsible). You couldn’t have made it up, had you tried. Why does this remind me of those world famous management consultants (name begins with M…) who, it is alleged, trot out the… Read more »

Beatrice Cooper
Beatrice Cooper
11 months ago

So sad. Is this the C of E shooting itself in the foot or heart?

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Beatrice Cooper
11 months ago

The C of E doesn’t have a heart. Nor a leg to stand on.

Mark Bennet
Mark Bennet
Reply to  Janet Fife
11 months ago

Reminds me of Monty Python’s “Black Knight” – but that was comedy

Beatrice Cooper
Beatrice Cooper
11 months ago

At least Bishop Judith Conalty had the honesty and grace to admit the church may not be safe.
Alleluia

Anthony Archer
Anthony Archer
11 months ago

Hugely assured (fearless even) performance by the Bishop of Birkenhead telling it like it is, and clearly very uncomfortable that she is part of a church in the state it is in, so far as safeguarding is concerned. She didn’t say as much, but doing her role that is probably as impossible as the ISB found their’s. Emphatic agreement that the Church of England is culturally resistant to accountability. Fresh leadership required, probably skipping a generation. It’s that stark. I’d put her on my list.

Realist
Realist
Reply to  Anthony Archer
11 months ago

Couldn’t agree more, Anthony. I’d add +Newcastle to that list, and see their newness to their respective Episcopal roles in the C of E as an advantage in the circumstances. I hope the Archbishops’ Secretary for Appointments (who has also quietly made some interesting changes for the better behind the scenes, I’m told) is watching and noting. I also wonder out loud, without wanting to impose stereotypical caricatures on either of them, if it’s any coincidence that they are both women, and +Newcastle grew up in another denomination and has senior leadership experience in a Province beyond the Church of… Read more »

Judith Maltby
Judith Maltby
11 months ago

A refreshing and impressive interview from one of the deputy lead bishops for safeguarding, though I cannot speak from a survivor’s perspective.
Can anyone explain how the Lead Bishops for Safeguarding (all women now, note, would no male bishop take it on?) arrangement relates in governance terms to the NST, National Safeguarding Panel, ISB (as was), the National Safeguarding Steering Group, and Archbishops’ Council? In fact, just how does all this (link below) join up? Who ‘leads’ on safeguarding?

https://www.churchofengland.org/safeguarding/safeguarding-governance

Malcolm Dixon
Malcolm Dixon
Reply to  Judith Maltby
11 months ago

I’d be very interested to hear the answer to your question, Judith, but I doubt that anyone could provide one, because the current structure is impossibly complex and without any coherence. I suspect that it has grown, sticking plaster upon sticking plaster, in an attempt to paper over glaring cracks in the structure. A less charitable, but possibly more accurate, interpretation would be that it has been deliberately set up in this way to obscure accountability and prevent challenge. As I said in a post on the earlier thread on this topic:- ‘Episcopally led and Synodically governed? Not when it… Read more »

‘Adrian’
‘Adrian’
Reply to  Judith Maltby
11 months ago

From this survivor’s perspective, and I fully accept there are a range of views, Julie talked a great talk on safeguarding and survivors as an Archdeacon, in GS, and in her episcopal application. Since becoming a deputy Lead Bishop on Safeguarding she appears to have turned into the Church’s chief apologist for defending the indefensible, eg 2 public appearances many months ago, one of which was on the Radio 4 Sunday programme. I do accept that she was clearly uncomfortable in that role yesterday, and I do not wish to blame the messenger. People will say that she was bound… Read more »

Fr. Paul
Fr. Paul
11 months ago

Alison Coulter sounds as convincing as Sir. Norman Fry in Little Britain! This is a disgrace and simply adds to the shame that has become the administration of C of E Safeguarding.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
11 months ago

Ben Bradshaw MP has posted the following on Twitter: ‘I will be asking the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Andrew Selous MP, to request a briefing for MPs & Peers on *what on earth is going on* with the ⁦@churchofengland
⁩ & safeguarding.’

I’m guessing the archbishops and Archbishops’ Council hadn’t reckoned on this degree of outrage and media coverage. But why hadn’t they? Have they got too used to getting away with unethical behaviour? Have they so completely lost their moral compasses that they don’t know when they’re doing wrong?

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Janet Fife
11 months ago

“Have they so completely lost their moral compasses that they don’t know when they’re doing wrong?” I suspect it is even worse than that. They believe that, because they are “The Church”, they know so much about what they perceive to be ethics that no one can tell them otherwise. They consider they have some sort of copyright on the morality business, and that anything they do is either ipso facto ‘moral’ or, even if it is frankly aromatic, it is for the good of the Church so must therefore be moral (viz., ‘you cannot make an omelette without breaking… Read more »

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  Janet Fife
11 months ago

Despite the reprehensible behaviour of the politburo, parish life staggers on much as before. Services are conducted, prayers offered, parishioners visited (or not), coffee mornings held, flowers arranged, sermons prepared (or not), rotas drawn up. Not one member of the congregations I know is aware of this fiasco. Not one follows church politics or blogs like this. Of local active or retired clergy only one, to my knowledge, reads TA occasionally. The politburo and its contemptible actions are irrelevant to the increasingly (thanks be to God) congregational CofE.  This of course works to the advantage of the nomenklatura. The vast majority… Read more »

Last edited 11 months ago by Stanley Monkhouse
robert
robert
Reply to  Stanley Monkhouse
11 months ago

Stanley : “Not one member of the congregations I know is aware of this fiasco.” though wih it being covered both on radio 4 lunchtime and the main ITV evening news this may have changed – but maybe my view of congregational awareness and news following habits may be out of date!

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  robert
11 months ago

The Telegraph also ran an article, and Premier Christian Radio have covered the story. But I suspect many worshippers now get their news on their phones, if at all.

Realist
Realist
Reply to  Janet Fife
11 months ago

My guess would be both/and Janet.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
11 months ago

Something which we are not going to be told, I suppose, is the legal basis for the termination of the ISB contract. Dissatisfaction with people doing precisely the job they were engaged to do is hardly a ground. Secondary issues: data protection (wasn’t the original chair of ISB displaced for breaches, so DP cannot be dismissed as inapplicable) and who (and how) will instruct the various independent experts taking over the existing ISB individual case loads: quoting the announcement “Those reviews will be carried out by independent experts qualified to conduct case reviews, just as at present, and they will… Read more »

Realist
Realist
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
11 months ago

I doubt we will be told, Rowland. But I, like you, am struggling to understand how a contract can be terminated when there is an open dispute that has been filed pursuant to its provisions. So much of the way these people operate baffles me from a legal perspective, but, as I see it, there always seems to be a reluctance on the part of the secular judiciary to get involved in the inner workings of the Church unless the issues are 100% clear. Far easier to rule that things lie beyond jurisdiction than to risk serious error and be… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Realist
11 months ago

I’m not aware that the secular judiciary duck any of their roles. Their total integrity and independence are bulwarks of our constitution. I think the reality is that these issues never reach the civil courts. I have long believed that victims of abuse would be far better served by them, but people are deterred by the cost and perceived risks of litigation.

Realist
Realist
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
11 months ago

My apologies, I wasn’t clear. I wasn’t referring to safeguarding when making this comment.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Realist
11 months ago

No apology necessary or appropriate! I understood what you meant, but added my own hobbyhorse about the courts being a safer place for abuse victims.

Alwyn Hall
Alwyn Hall
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
11 months ago

William Nye refers to data in his ISB paper for the upcoming General Synod, under a separate TA post. Although, as I have said there, I sadly cannot accept the veracity of this document.

Mark Bennet
Mark Bennet
11 months ago

Question: What credible person will now apply for the putative independent replacement for the ISB?

Adrian
Adrian
11 months ago

I don’t recall any Church being this crass, ignorant and stupid since the Dutch Reformed Church supported apartheid.

Clare Amos
Clare Amos
Reply to  Adrian
11 months ago

Sadly I think that the Roman Catholic Church can run it close at times. The article in The Tablet about the recent situation in the diocese of Hexham and Newcastle makes for disturbing reading, including the information it contains that ‘at present, canon law prevents whistleblowing by a priest about a bishop’.

DBD
DBD
11 months ago

What an enormous own goal! We haven’t seen anything this bad in, ooh, several weeks?

‘Adrian’
‘Adrian’
11 months ago

The next (yes I’ve lost count too) car crash performance as Canon Jamie Harrison takes to the airways to attempt to justify the AC position on the ISB on the Cath Newman Times Radio programme around 1815. ‘All three members of the ISB have been put down’. Perhaps it might not be quite such an amusing misspeak after all, given current AC and C of E behaviour? Presumably they select these people to defend the indefensible either by drawing names out of a hat or by Buggins’ turn? Presumably the only 3 people that actually matter, Justin, Stephen and William… Read more »

Realist
Realist
Reply to  ‘Adrian’
11 months ago

I’m finding all of this fascinating – and not for a good reason. So far we have two lay members of AC who both have a background as medical professionals – Dr Harrison is a medical doctor, who has held very senior posts in training other medics in his professional career. Surely medical professionals realise what sudden removal of support from vulnerable people can do, have worked all their professional lives to standards that require them to put the best interests of vulnerable people first, and will have been trained by safeguarding professionals who know what they’re talking about. What… Read more »

Last edited 11 months ago by Realist
‘Adrian’
‘Adrian’
Reply to  Realist
11 months ago

I assumed that if and when the C of E finally wheeled out one of ABY, ABC or William Nye, they would have to be, by definition, some improvement on poor Ian Paul, Jamie Harrison & Alison Coulter. How wrong I was. As someone who is often such a poor communicator, both in the media and in person, it remains a surprise to be reminded that ABY’s first degree was in Media Studies at the Polytechnic of Central London. Of course ABY made public one historic safeguarding failure of his own, for which the NST found that he ‘poses no… Read more »

Kit
Kit
11 months ago

I note with interest that the three hours of debate at General Synod on the Sunday afternoon has lost half an hour to an extended lunch break, and having been at York Minster for worship a few hours earlier, the Archbishops and William Nye obviously think that’s not enough, so there will be more worship on Sunday afternoon biting into the time allocated for safeguarding. More time will be chewed up with a ‘presentation’. Expect no time for debate or dissent. The Archbishops and Mr Nye will be on full broadcast mode, telling us all how much they’re listening and… Read more »

Realist
Realist
Reply to  Kit
11 months ago

Well I suppose manipulating an agenda makes a change from train wreck interviews…

Go ‘Billy Nye The Whitewash Guy’ (with apologies to ‘The Big Bang Theory’)!

Last edited 11 months ago by Realist
Realist
Realist
11 months ago

Andrew Graystone commented on Twitter this morning that there is not much emotional intelligence in the House of Bishops. Absolutely right! Yet the former ‘power behind the throne’ in the C of E’s equivalent to the Congregation for Bishops, Ms Boddington was yesterday given one of ++Canterbury’s little trinkets and lauded for ‘her outstanding contribution in transforming the process of senior leadership development and appointment in the Church of England’. For once, I am in complete agreement with His (Dis)Grace. She has been incredibly successful in what she set out to do. I very much doubt, though, that I mean the… Read more »

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  Simon Sarmiento
11 months ago

IIRC Welby while at Durham said ‘appointing me [as ABC] would be absurd’.

Fr Dexter Bracey
Fr Dexter Bracey
Reply to  Simon Sarmiento
11 months ago

Ah. I used to have respect for Ian Paul.

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Simon Sarmiento
11 months ago

Why do people think, when a person’s comments are already in the public domain, that those words can be spun to say something they were not saying? Do they think the internet doesn’t exist? +Birkenhead’s actual words on the ISB sackings: “Many survivors trusted Jas Sanghera and Steve Reeves, and the decision by Archbishops’ Council to end their contracts is causing fear, anger and distress. Today the Church is less accountable. To remove at short notice, the strongest independent voices holding the Church to account for its safeguarding failings makes us look resistant to robust scrutiny and challenge – which,… Read more »

Gilo
Gilo
11 months ago

We are likely to see plenty more distraction and deflection from AC. And increasing shade thrown at the two ISB members. AC know the real scandal here is the removal of support from the victims and survivors the ISB were holding in their care, some in very precarious situations. Presumably AC expected those people to read about the decision on social media or via watching the news. Senior clerical figures on AC including both ABs have done C4 training and equivalent upgrades. They should all know that sudden and precipitous removal of support from survivors in vulnerable situations is “reckless… Read more »

Fr Dexter Bracey
Fr Dexter Bracey
Reply to  Gilo
11 months ago

I’m quite sure that any other member of the clergy who behaved with such disregard for safeguarding policy would be suspended and subject to CDM. Who would have the standing to be able to make such a complaint against the archbishops?

Fr Dexter Bracey
Fr Dexter Bracey
Reply to  Simon Sarmiento
11 months ago

Indeed. But who can make the complaint? And would they be willing to do it given the inevitable costs of doing so?

Gilo
Gilo
Reply to  Fr Dexter Bracey
11 months ago

I’m making a complaint. And already seeking help and advice from within the Church. I have written to the Lead Bishop and copied to the NST Director. Precedent is clear. Two predecessors of Alexander Kubeyinje brought CDMs against senior figures. I spoke with the London diocesan office (Stepney manor) yesterday and left a message for the Lead Bishop.

Still awaiting a reply.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Fr Dexter Bracey
11 months ago

By section 10 (1) (c) of the CDM 2003, as amended, proceedings against an archbishop may be instituted by: (i) a person nominated by the archbishop’s council of his diocese if not less than two-thirds of the members of the council are present at a duly convened meeting of the council and not less than two thirds of the members present and voting pass a resolution to the effect that the proceedings be instituted; or (ii) any other person who has a proper interest in making the complaint. My recollection, without having time to check it, is that the President… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
11 months ago

Having now checked, it is the respective Provincial Registrar (rather than President of Tribunals) who determines whether the complainant has a proper interest in making the complaint: section 11 (1) (a).

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
11 months ago

Thank you, Rowland. your knowledge is such an asset for people who use or read this website. It’s great knowing that you are often here in the background, to inform, suggest, or fact-check people’s conjecture on legal aspects, procedure etc.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Susannah Clark
11 months ago

Thank you for those kind words, Susannah. I don’t claim that my view on this is infallible.

As some light relief, another offering from Archdruid
Eileen:

https://cyber-coenobites.blogspot.com/2023/06/if-vicars-had-agony-page-in-manner-of.html

I was tempted to ask TA to publish this, but Eileen’s ‘sermon’ on the other thread appeared at about the same time. In this one I think we might all get a hint of who “Stumped” could be based upon.

Anthony Archer
Anthony Archer
Reply to  Simon Sarmiento
11 months ago

They only really have the power of resignation. By remaining silent they are showing the collective responsibility for the sackings. It is extraordinary that not one of them understands what ‘independent’ means. I trust they have reported this to the Charity Commission as a serious incident. That absolutely must be a question put down for Synod. Deadline 12.00pm Tuesday 27 June. I am happy to assist with its drafting. 

Maungy Vicar
Maungy Vicar
Reply to  Anthony Archer
11 months ago

I think every member of the Archbishops Council should resign, including and most especially the archbishops and the secretary general. Their graces have colluded in acting disgracefully and neither are fit for office. They continue to bring the Church into disrepute by their actions and inaction.

Jane Chevous
Reply to  Anthony Archer
10 months ago

Please make sure that this is asked. Council have caused such harm to survivors by their actions

Realist
Realist
11 months ago

Well the train wrecks continue…they wheeled the big guns out this morning, well at least the smallest of them… Radio 4’s ‘Sunday’ programme made very interesting listening today. Some very effective questioning (no doubt the AC will claim bias, but listen to it and judge for yourself), plus powerful, articulate and succinct contributions from Jane Chevous and Jasvinder Sanghera exposed the problems for all to hear. His (Dis)Grace of York, in contrast, came across to me as: patronising in presenting his points (if only those silly people were capable of understanding, everything would be fine) petulant (sarcasm about giving him… Read more »

Susanna (no ‘h’)
Susanna (no ‘h’)
Reply to  Realist
11 months ago

Gilo, you are a very brave man- I wish you God Speed with your complaint but I suspect you may be waiting for rather a long time for that reply from the Stepney Manor Office. What has occurred to me very strongly over the last two days is that the organisation the COf E really is mediaeval and established to protect the power of an absolute ruler. The Archbishops’ Council is designed to do what it says on the tin – he is in charge and its purpose is to support not argue with, him – people appointed will see… Read more »

Anthony Archer
Anthony Archer
Reply to  Susanna (no ‘h’)
11 months ago

It is a legal question as to what constitutes a serious incident, and I am not a lawyer. However, this has all the ingredients of a serious incident, and even if the trustees of the Archbishops’ Council are unsure, they should report it anyway. The Charity Commission provides some examples of serious incidents, one of which is **a delivery partner of the charity has ceased to operate and this has prevented the charity from providing assistance to its beneficiaries.** Seems analogous to me, with the added irony that an act of the Archbishops’ Council itself having caused the breach. For reasons of… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Anthony Archer
11 months ago

I haven’t compared this HMG guidance with the Charity Commission website, but it gives a comprehensive, and more relevant, list of examples of a serious incident, “whether actual or alleged”, and the essential need for any to be reported promptly with “full and frank disclosure”.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/how-to-report-a-serious-incident-in-your-charity

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