Thinking Anglicans

ISB controversy episode 4: Dispute Notice

Latest Update Wednesday afternoon

1.Briefing Note: Dispute Notice – Key Points

This briefing outlines the key points of the Dispute Notice issued by Jasvinder Sanghera CBE and Steve Reeves MBE on 24th May 2023.

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Update: The full text of the PDF is copied below the fold.

2. Today, Monday,  on BBC Radio 4 WATO, there was an interview with Jasvinder Sanghera, which you can listen to over here, starting at 33.45, in which she refutes the claims made in earlier radio interviews by Alison Coulter and Stephen Cottrell. Transcript now available here.

3.  A notice was posted on the website of the ISBStatement from Independent Safeguarding Board

You will be aware of the announcement from the Archbishops’ Council regarding the Independent Safeguarding Board.

We will continue to honour any reviews or complaints that are underway or are due to start. We will be in contact as soon as possible with survivors and complainants and reviewers to ensure these are completed.

The ISB is working with the Archbishops’ Council to put in place alternative arrangements to handle complaints while work is undertaken to develop an independent oversight body for safeguarding. Once the detail is in place an announcement will be made.

4.  Surviving Church has published an article: Was the Independent Safeguarding Board ever Independent? The Archbishops Set Out Their Position to a Complainant

5. Premier Christianity has published an interview with Jasvinder Sanghera: ‘The Church of England is not survivor focused when it comes to safeguarding’

6.  Church Times news article by Francis Martin: Row over Independent Safeguarding Board continues
This covers much of the same information as the items above, but with some important additional details.

Dispute Notice – Key Points

1 The Dispute

This briefing outlines the key points of the Dispute Notice issued by Jasvinder Sanghera CBE and Steve Reeves MBE on 24th May 2023. We consent to the Archbishops’ Council publishing the Dispute Notice in full.

The Board members’ dispute with the Archbishops’ Council (“the Council”) is that it has frustrated their capacity to deliver the services of the Independent Safeguarding Board (ISB).

1.1 Terms of Reference

The ISB has been working according to Terms of Reference, published on its website, since March 2022.

The Archbishops’ Council stated that they were not aware of the Terms of Reference and were unaware that the ISB had been working to these, despite evidence of the National Safeguarding Steering Group (NSSG) unanimously approving them on 31st March 2022. This is evidenced in the minutes of the meeting.

In approving the terms of reference, the NSSG, as a sub-Committee of the trustee body, purported to have put the ISB in place to do work that the Council could not then frustrate.

The terms of reference provide clarity and assurance of the ISB’s ability to operate without undue interference from the body which it is tasked with scrutinising. Explicit in the terms of reference are the arrangements for the recruitment of Board members and decision-making.

In direct contravention of this:

• The Council appointed an acting chair without following a fair and transparent process, which would address conflicts of interest and give a role for survivors of Church abuse.

• The Council appointed an acting chair who is not independent of all Church bodies; the appointee leads a church body and sits on a subcommittee of the Council’s trustee body.

• The Council provided the acting Chair with a remit to disregard ISB decisions.

• The Council directed the removal of survivor engagement content from the ISB website related to a specific initiative planned for over a year and led by the Survivor Advocate.

1.2 Frustrating Work

In addition to the serious instances of the Council frustrating the independence of the ISB and operating outside established (and accepted) procedures, the Council has engaged in a pattern of conduct to ensure that the ISB is restricted from exercising its role.

The Council has withheld an Information Sharing Agreement (ISA) for a prolonged period, despite numerous requests. This has resulted in:

• The NST refusing access to information critical to the ISB’s scrutiny role.

• The pausing and subsequent removal of the Christ Church Review.

• An ISB compromised in its role to provide active independent scrutiny, while the Council was aware that significant matters of public concern would have been reviewed if the legal basis was in place.

The Council has also made day to day operations unnecessarily challenging through restricting the legitimate use of shared services.

2 Our Desired Outcome

The Board members wish to fulfil their contractual duties in accordance with their individual contracts, terms of reference and standing orders, without these functions being frustrated by the Council or other Church bodies. To achieve this outcome, the Council must agree that:

  • The independence of the ISB must be respected by the Council.
  • The collaborative approach to phase2 of the ISB’s work.
  • The Council should not make decisions which affect theI SB or its functions without consulting the ISB.
  • There should be a small reference group from the Council to support the work of the ISB, to act as a sounding board and/or communication channel, and to ensure that any ISB matters raised have an informed hearing at future Council meetings. 
  • The ISB operates in accordance with its terms of reference that were ratified unanimously by NSSG and approved by the Council:
  • That all appointments to the ISB follow the outlined process, including the appointment of a substantive chair at the earliest opportunity, with one of the existing Board members carrying out the duties of the chair in the intervening period.
  • All appointed board members agree on how they intend to work collaboratively with other members of the ISB. Where the members of the ISB cannot reach agreement, the members will act on a majority decision.
  • That the Council respect decisions made in accordance with ISB procedures. 
  • An ISA be signed with the ISB without delay.
  • Staff working in support of the ISB should not be directed by the Council to undertake any duties which compromise the effectiveness or independence of the ISB.
  • That, unless legally prohibited, the staff of the Council follow the instructions of the ISB in the provision of shared services.

Board members confirmed their willingness to fulfil their obligations in resolving the matters outlined; stating that: “The issue of this Dispute Notice is a demonstration of the Board members’ commitment to delivering an independent body that has the confidence of the public and all those served by the Church of England, including survivors of Church abuse.”

Response of the Archbishops’ Council

The Archbishops’ Council proposed a set of ground rules as a pre-condition of any dispute resolution process. These conditions included acquiescing to the appointment of the acting chair and refraining from any public comment. The response also advised that the Archbishops’ Council wished to take steps to ensure that the acting chair could not be routinely outvoted by other Board members.

The Board members requested the appointment of an independent mediator, as provided for in their contracts. The Archbishops’ Council rejected the request.

Jasvinder Sanghera CBE Steve Reeves MBE Survivor Advocate Lead Independent Member

Independent Safeguarding Board, c/o Church House, Great Smith Street, London, SW1P 3AZ

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David Hawkins
David Hawkins
9 months ago

There are two separate but interrelated issues here. Firstly we need a fully independent successor body to the ISB with a fully independent appointments system that involves the active participantion of victims and survivors. But just as important is a mechanism to force cooperation and transparency from the Archbishops’ Council, the Bishops and the central bureaucracy. This must include sanctions because we cannot assume good faith. The deliberate obstruction of safeguarding is almost as bad as the original abuse because it denies justice to the victims. There is absolutely no point in having an independent ISB unless truly independent members… Read more »

Martin Sewell
Martin Sewell
Reply to  David Hawkins
9 months ago

This is indeed not a Safeguarding crisis, it is a governance crisis and must be addressed as such.

Realist
Realist
Reply to  Martin Sewell
9 months ago

Absolutely. In my view, as well as the immediate task of credible people (and by this I don’t mean those the Archbishops’ Council considers to be acceptable) working with survivors to put in place the support that they feel they need (not what any of us who aren’t survivors tell them they need), there are two governance tasks. I completely agree with Froghole’s excellent analysis of the development of monarchical episcopacy in the C of E, and the dangers involved in creating a power vacuum by removing established forms of leadership if ineffective cultural change follows. This is well known… Read more »

NJW
NJW
Reply to  NJW
9 months ago

I should add that the Lincoln statement was published on Friday, so does not reflect the subsequent clarity that has resulted from the content of various interviews since then…

Realist
Realist
Reply to  NJW
9 months ago

Thanks for pointing that out. Good to see it being posted, though like that of +Bath and Wells, it can’t really be put in the speaking out against category.

Anthony Archer
Anthony Archer
Reply to  Martin Sewell
9 months ago

I think its probably ‘both and’. I was alarmed to hear a member of Archbishops’ Council seemingly imply somehow because he is a layperson (despite claiming to have engaged with all the issues) he is in a different category of trustee (different from the archbishops and bishops?). That is a serious governance misunderstanding and suggests the Council is not discharging its oversight responsibilities properly. The sackings have serious governance implications, as I have noted elsewhere on one of the three threads on this. However, it is clear from Sanghera Jasvinder that the problems are far more deep seated and almost certainly… Read more »

Anthony Archer
Anthony Archer
Reply to  Anthony Archer
9 months ago

Sorry to mix up Jasvinder Sanghera’s names.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
9 months ago

In two words: “barely credible”. This would be a bad dream if it were not really happening. 

Susanna (no ‘h’)
Susanna (no ‘h’)
9 months ago

Steve on his Twitter feed today also offers more information to members of synod if they email the address he provides. I only hope members take this up. After following the threads on the first 3 episodes it has to be presumed that the Three DisGraces ( I’m including William Nye) initially thought that they had attracted two such eminent safeguarding professionals because working for the CofE would be another plus point for their CVs …. The last thing the DisGraces can have expected were the professionals to demonstrate tenacity and teeth- or to put it bluntly, do any work.… Read more »

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
9 months ago

The Tablet Magazine letters page provides an interesting side-line to the CofE’s problems. The letters are in response to a major safeguarding failure in Newcastle, and the CSSA’s (Catholic Safeguarding Standards Agency) subsequent damning report. It seems that the same issues arise. It is not just personalities, but archaic governance, and total lack of accountability at a senior level. Letter 1 “THE CSSA REPORT into Hexham and Newcastle is truly eviscerating and damning (“Safeguarding chief says Church must improve on transparency”, 17 June). The utter failure in leadership that left people at risk of harm is manifest. But the report… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
9 months ago

Ms Sanghera exercised admirable restraint in her interview with Ms Montague, and Archbishops’ Council decided (perhaps wisely, in view of the prior humiliation of Ms Coulter and Archbishop Cottrell at the hands of Ms Montague and Dr Crawley) not to put up another sacrificial lamb. The statement they issued, read out by Ms Montague, indicates that there has been a dialogue of the deaf, and that the Council are seemingly impervious to reason. Essentially, the old model of monarchical episcopacy is incompatible with any form of reasonable scrutiny. It was a model which emanated from feudal society, and it was… Read more »

Martin
Martin
Reply to  Froghole
9 months ago

Another excellent reflection from Froghole. The monarchical model of episcopacy can only exist with the consent of the people, rather as other monarchies do. This means that if the model is to be preserved it will be reduced to the ceremonial and stripped of executive authority. In some respects, the CofE is some way down that road. It would also mark the end of the episcopacy holding judicial powers, or expecting bishops to fulfil a teaching office. The difficulty at present is that bishops are caught up in being a jack-of-all-trades and master of none. Nobody in the hierarchy has… Read more »

Martin Sewell
Martin Sewell
Reply to  Froghole
9 months ago

First rate – and entirely consonant with my own evolving thoughts on the legal side I come from a secular legal background where the culture is fused to the principles of the Human Rights Act. The Ecclesiastical legal system comes from the medieval modelling of the role of the King/Bishop. The Church is trying to mash the two together and that cannot work. Certain secular functions such as safeguarding have to be outplaced.

Susannah Clark
9 months ago

The ISB ‘Terms of Reference’ – Introduction section: There is to be “independent oversight of the National Safeguarding Team”… isn’t putting a recent director of the NST in charge of the ISB almost the ultimate ‘marking your own homework’? Phase 1 activity will ensure the distance between the ISB and the Church is confirmed… closing down the ISB and firing its voices kind of ‘confirms’ the opposite, guys – and contradicts this stated intent of the ToR. The ISB will be an arms-length body… nothing arms-length about firing your independent team and closing down the Board… that’s, er, kind of… Read more »

Kate
Kate
9 months ago

Steve and Jasvinder deserve immense credit for trying to do what they can for survivors in the limited time available despite the personal anger and hurt they themselves must be feeling.

T Pott
T Pott
9 months ago

The Archbishops’ Council wished to ensure the acting chair could not be outvoted by other members.

Words fail.

Susannah Clark
9 months ago

Jas Sanghera (one of the fired Board members) states that although she was recruited as the survivor advocate for the ISB, she was told she had placed too much focus on survivors and victims. I can’t even make sense of that, given the four times repeated remit in the Terms of Reference. In the ‘Purpose’ section of the ToR point 8 it is stated that the ISB must “ensure victims, survivors [and others] are appropriately heard and engaged, enabling their involvement in helping to shape and inform Church of England safeguarding policy.” They are meant to be a focus. Also… Read more »

Susannah Clark
9 months ago

I am concerned by Jas Sanghera’s claim that agreed process was not followed when the Archbishops’ Council imposed Meg Munn on the Board as a replacement Chair. The Terms of Reference for the ISB do seem to make clear that fair and transparent process has to be followed, in order to address potential conflicts of interest, and give a role in the selection process for survivors of church abuse. If proper and agreed process was not followed, then to make acquiescence over the appointment a pre-condition for proceeding with the Dispute Resolution process would (if demonstrated to be true) seem… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Susannah Clark
9 months ago

And just to add (because I forgot ask): how many applicants were there for the role as Chair of the ISB, and how many people were interviewed? Maybe someone should start putting questions directly to members of the Archbishops’ Council.

Martin
Martin
9 months ago

Nothing that the CofE could do here could ever improve things. The NST and the Archbishops’ Council seem to have the opposite of the Midas Touch. Anything they get their hands on is immediately rendered worthless. The CofE still has no legal expert in safeguarding working for the NST. There is no lawyer advocate for claimants or respondents. There are no conflicts of interest policy in operation, even if they exist. The whole thing is an embarrassing amateurism making an absolutely dreadful mess of things, day-in, day-out. There is no leadership in LamPal, CHW or the Archbishops’ Council that even… Read more »

Martin Sewell
Martin Sewell
Reply to  Martin
9 months ago

Martin gets it spot on – but can I clarify that I comment under my full name. Bad luck Bishops – there’s TWO of us!!

Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  Martin
9 months ago

Your plan seems to be for a sort of corporate prophet – a body arising independent of the religious establishment telling it to get its shit together.

That, to me, sounds like an excellent plan. If victims and survivors are in favour I think there would be scope for crowdfunding such an endeavour and I would be eager to contribute. I doubt I would be alone. Some PCCs and DBFs might be encouraged to do so too.

Fr Dexter Bracey
Fr Dexter Bracey
Reply to  Martin
9 months ago

The challenge will be for any external body to hold to account not just the C of E, which is a complex of inter-related bodies each with their on legal identity, but also the range of other bodies with their own identity – comment has already been amde elsewhere about the issues that arise from the semi-detached bodies such as Titues Trust, Soul Survivor etc. When, in due course, some scandal arises within the HTB network, expect those responsible to hide behind complex network of bodies that are part of that movement and say “nothing to do with me, guv”.

Kate
Kate
9 months ago

There is an interesting contradiction at work here. – For the decision to ‘reset’ the ISB, the Archbishops’Council seem to be relying on collective responsibility, suggesting it would be unfair to blame any individual as the decision was taken by the committee en-toto. – For the decision by the ISB to raise a dispute (and it appears possibly other decisions), the Archbishops’Council are looking beyond collective responsibility and continue to support the Acting Chair (Meg Munn) while terminating the other two board members. Does anyone else think that is interesting? (It’s also worth noting that the precise decision taken by… Read more »

Jeremy
Jeremy
9 months ago

Wow. This text bears re-reading:
“Response of the Archbishops’ Council
“The Archbishops’ Council proposed a set of ground rules as a pre-condition of any dispute resolution process. These conditions included acquiescing to the appointment of the acting chair and refraining from any public comment. The response also advised that the Archbishops’ Council wished to take steps to ensure that the acting chair could not be routinely outvoted by other Board members.
“The Board members requested the appointment of an independent mediator, as provided for in their contracts. The Archbishops’ Council rejected the request.”

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Jeremy
9 months ago

Considering the appointment of Meg Munn – parachuted in and imposed – may have occurred in breach of due process, it seems like a brow-beating and pretty much intransigent approach for the representatives of the AC to insist on acquiescence over a possibly improper appointment as a pre-condition for being willing to try to work through the Dispute process. On the face of it, this attitude seems staggering. The Terms of Reference for appointments (eg: meg Munn) to the ISB are clearly defined. Direct questions need to be asked: 1.Were ISB Board members consulted in advance over the recruitment process,… Read more »

Mark Bennet
Mark Bennet
9 months ago

Well IICSA and others aid there needed to be a culture change, and we see here the existing culture resisting challenge, let alone change. The ISB was defended as independent when it was set up in the face of observations by critics, used to independence in other fields, that it wasn’t. Jasvinder Sanghera and Steve Reeves showed that they could provide an independent voice and view, even within a flawed structure. To sack them (and the ISB as a whole) for not being independent enough is completely ridiculous. The idea that the ISB might have operated without agreed terms of… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Mark Bennet
9 months ago

Indeed Mark. Resistance to culture change. Failure to let go of control. It’s so ironic. Even in the ‘Introduction’ section of the Terms of Reference they state: “The ISB is to challenge internal cultures when they prevent best practice.” Further on they task the ISB to develop initiatives that “focus on the ongoing need for culture change” (‘Advisory and Policy Activity’ point 1). In that same section (point 2) they are tasked to “advise on good practice models”. How is it ‘good practice’ to abruptly shut down an agency (without consultation with the wider Church) that has built up relationships… Read more »

Susannah Clark
9 months ago

A few questions and observations on the ‘Dispute Notice – Key Points’ document: If the Archbishops’ Council did indeed demand the removal of a survivor engagement initiative from the ISB website, how is that consistent with the ISB being created to do ‘work the Church cannot then frustrate’, or being an ‘an arms length body’, or ‘ensuring distance between the ISB and the Church’ (all agreed in the Terms of Reference)? It’s blatant interference. Why was the ISB’s Christ Church review paused and then removed? If Jas or Steve are reading this, I’m not clear about the basis for your… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Susannah Clark
9 months ago

Also, with reference to the reported demand to remove content from the ISB website, how is that consistent with the ‘Accountabilities’ section of the Terms of Reference point 1: “The Archbishops’ Council cannot direct the ISB’s activity, where or when it works, what it investigates, or what it says or publishes“?

David James
David James
Reply to  Susannah Clark
9 months ago

Doesn’t say it won’t try!

Martin Sewell
Martin Sewell
Reply to  Susannah Clark
9 months ago

The removal of the Christ Church Oxford Review was something I approved indeed campaigned for. No disrespect but the complaint ran from The College, through the Cathedral, the Bishop, the Diocese, the lawyers the PR company, the NST the Archbishops Council, the legal office the Secretary General and both Archbishops. The ISB. Members came to support Dr Percy recognising that they simply did not have the experience or resource to evaluate not only the facts but to assess the interplay between Ecclesiastical Law and the 16th Century College statutes. All this on two days a week whilst coping with dozens… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Martin Sewell
9 months ago

Thanks Martin, that helps me understand the context. I thought I recalled the ISB expressing some understanding of Martyn’s position, but your response clarifies the background.

Susannah Clark
9 months ago

One final comment (I appreciate I’ve been quite noisy): TRANSPARENCY In the Terms of Reference the Archbishops’ Council proposed full transparency. Are they willing to be fully transparent themselves about how Meg Munn was appointed, which appears to have contravened the due process and conditions for recruitment stipulated in the ISB’s Terms of Reference? How many advertisements were there for the post? How many applied? How many were formally interviewed? Was there a survivor on the formal interview panel as required? Was there even a formal interview at all? Were the ISB members fully consulted and involved in advance of… Read more »

Martin Sewell
Martin Sewell
Reply to  Susannah Clark
9 months ago

Susannah – it’s worse than you know: the Terms of Reference are the public papers, yet the Secretariat can impose limitations on “independent” members through the private contracts, giving the executive power and leverage which nobody else knows about.

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Martin Sewell
9 months ago

Good grief – how can there be any accountability and transparency if the wider Church can’t see the hidden terms, conditions, and limitations? I realise that contracts and remuneration details are generally private but, when trying to demonstrate independence from the Church is actually happening, I suggest any clawbacks/limitations of the Terms of Reference ought as a matter of transparency and reassurance to survivors to be publicly detailed by one or other party. I don’t know if Jas would consider detailing any limitations hidden in the contracts?

Froghole
Froghole
9 months ago

Students of French history will recall that the states general was summoned in 1789 because of the bankruptcy of the French state. It was almost immediately evident that the government would only secure the necessary cash if extensive concessions were made. Those concessions were made quite quickly, and in almost the blink of an eye the old system was swept away (13 June to 11 August). What followed was a substantial transfer of capital from those hitherto in possession of it to the French state. Of course, disaster beckoned shortly thereafter. We are now in a situation where, to the… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Froghole
9 months ago

Arguably, as suggested by another TA contributor, this is a serious incident which should be reported to the Charity Commission. I believe the criteria are made out. The duty to report, however, rests with the trustees themselves – it is a duty, not an option. Trustees include both Archbishops and Ian Paul. Are they aware? Will they?

For convenience, I repeat the HMG guidance link:

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

Sam Jones
Sam Jones
Reply to  Froghole
9 months ago

Froghole, there are times when this site is worth reading just for your posts!

Susanna (no ‘h’)
Susanna (no ‘h’)
Reply to  Sam Jones
9 months ago

These threads are most unusual in that there has not been the slightest hint from anyone of a ‘Yes but’ on behalf of the AC . I am also conscious that this group of contributors is self selecting and just hope that the lack of dissent does not represent a more general lack of interest – we can only pray that members of Synod are doing their homework and may yet rise up to swear all sorts of oaths, tennis court or otherwise , and confound Froghole’s dire predictions. Ensuring that there has been a serious incident report to the… Read more »

Adrian
Adrian
Reply to  Susanna (no ‘h’)
9 months ago

I usually see disagreement on Twitter if not here, or cross-posted from other websites here. All I see is agreement, on the moral issues, and theological primacy of care for the vulnerable, and the obstruction of that justice by the AC. But just how bad is it? Is the AC accountable to General Synod? Can it be made to be accountable? If not, is anything less than a call for a vote of no confidence in the archbishops enough to resolve this ‘constitutional crisis’? I think that this is, at best, an own-goal in what might be the final stages… Read more »

Adrian
Adrian
Reply to  Simon Sarmiento
9 months ago

Hi Simon,
I’m sorry if you thought I meant you were suppressing disagreement/ discussion. I didn’t mean that. But it is unusual not to have vocal dissent here isn’t it?
Cheers
Adrian

Aljbri
Aljbri
Reply to  Simon Sarmiento
9 months ago

Well, yes, but I do wonder whether there is some ‘oh there we are, TA at it again. No point in arguing with them: never listen, opinionated, heretical sometimes, certainly disrespectful. Move on. Most congregations don’t know or care and will certainly be unbothered. We have a kingdom to build.’ I fear it shows that sheep dip training in safeguarding for parishes may not be that effective.

Anthony Archer
Anthony Archer
Reply to  Adrian
9 months ago

The Archbishops’ Council was established by the National Institutions Measure 1998. It is fully accountable to General Synod, which sounds pretty positive until you take into account: (i) it never found its feet when set up, and arguably has never done; and (ii) Synod has never put the torch to the soles of its feet. I have always regarded it as fairly useless, which is why I never stood for election to it. Section 4(5) of the Measure, for example, states that ‘The General Synod may request reports from the Council on **any matter** relating to the functions of the… Read more »

Last edited 9 months ago by Anthony Archer
Anglican Priest
Anglican Priest
Reply to  Sam Jones
9 months ago

I agree. Increasingly rare command of historical fact. Now a lost art. Moses and Abraham Lincoln are contemporaries.

Francis James
Francis James
9 months ago

The successive car-crash radio interviews by members of Archbishops’ Council may well feature in future media studies courses as textbook examples of how not to do it. Cottrell’s own media studies degree dates from way back in 1979, and if he thought that long ago course would enable him to perform well at a 2023 radio interview he was seriously deluded. Indeed he showed no sign of being at all prepared for even mild push-back by the interviewer, and that massive error of judgement is all down to him.

David Hawkins
David Hawkins
9 months ago

“We were doing our jobs. In fact, we were excelling in our jobs. The National Safeguarding director personally told me that I was too survivor focused. I take that as a compliment, because the clue is in the job title: I’m the survivor advocate. “(Jasvinder Sanghera in Premier Christianity)

It occurs to me that this is an issue in which conservatives and liberals, Evangelicals and Catholics can work together and in working together we can perhaps understand each other better ?

Last edited 9 months ago by David Hawkins
Realist
Realist
9 months ago

Jasvinder’s article on Premier Christianity says she’s been told by the Business Committee that the safeguarding item on the General Synod agenda for July is now not happening. If that’s true, the suppression of debate has reached new levels. The Executive actively removing any opportunity for Synod members to make comment on this scandal in a session of the Governing Body of the Church would certainly suggest to me being worthy of a vote of no confidence in the leadership at the very least, and places Trustees in a very difficult place if they haven’t reported the incident to the… Read more »

pastoral vic
pastoral vic
Reply to  Realist
9 months ago

Having been involved in the vote of no confidence in the bishop of Winchester 3 years ago, we knew that it had no legal power, but it was a statement that made it clear that the synod had lost confidence in him; the chair of clergy and chair of laity decided, after consultation at Lambeth, to take him on in the diocese, and once he realised he had lost the confidence of the synod ( although it was never tabled, I knew we had the support of at least 54 of the 71 members if it did go to a… Read more »

Realist
Realist
Reply to  pastoral vic
9 months ago

Thank you for posting this. I admire your courage in being involved in achieving the seemingly impossible. Many would have shied away from it for fear of consequences. I’ve been consistently advocating a similar action at national level, but am on the sidelines, not a General Synod member, so can’t actually do it. I’ve been pondering whether my clerical colleagues on Synod would, but have come to the conclusion that those from this Diocese would not. We have some good, faithful, clergy among them, but they aren’t the kind of people who usually put their heads above the parapet. We… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  pastoral vic
9 months ago

Many thanks for this, and not least for revealing what some suspected was going on at the time. Might this be the first occasion in recorded history that the representatives of a diocesan synod have ‘conspired’ with a primate to oust a diocesan? The Winchester synod appears to have set a number of precedents, and I wonder just how consequential Lambeth appreciated they were at the time. If so, it is suggests that collegiality on the bench is a one way street, with diocesans owing obedience to their metropolitan without any assurance of reciprocal loyalty. It also raises the possibility… Read more »

pastoral vic
pastoral vic
Reply to  Froghole
9 months ago

There were high level discussions at Lambeth during ++J’s sabbatical involving Bishop of London and Bishop at Lambeth, which, after evidence of 30 people who submitted witness statements, meant at last that Lambeth Palace realised something had to be done, and only way was for the diocese to confront him. Clearly there was plenty of evidence to suggest all was not well but 2 attempted CDMs against him from Jersey around 2013/14 were not accepted by Lambeth, despite written evidence of a possible criminal act of incitement to break the law. There comes a time when leaders have to be… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  pastoral vic
9 months ago

Thank you very much for these fascinating details, which would doubtless have provoked much comment in 2020-21. I do hope that the full story is told in due course, because it is, I think, a significant milestone in the recent history of the Church. What happened in Winchester was, evidently, a coup from above as well as from below. I assume from your remarks (but cannot be certain) that the proximate cause of the coup was the grave mishandling of the Key/Jersey safeguarding business, but my own experience of the diocese (where I attended services at almost all of its… Read more »

Stephen Griffiths
Stephen Griffiths
Reply to  pastoral vic
9 months ago

There is a current Private Members’ Motion calling the Archbishop of Canterbury to resign. I am not familiar with the timescale for adding signatures but it surely must be of interest to members of General Synod.

David Lamming
David Lamming
Reply to  pastoral vic
9 months ago

The chairman of the House of Laity of the Winchester Diocesan Synod at the time was Alison Coulter—now, as Chairman of the House of Laity of General Synod, an ex-officio member of the Archbishops’ Council—the person representing the AC who gave the recent ‘car crash’ interview on The World at One.

Simon Kershaw
Reply to  David Lamming
9 months ago

The Chair of the House of Laity of the General Synod is still Dr Jamie Harrison, unless things have changed very recently. Alison Coulter is the Vice-Chair. (Both the Chair and Vice-Chair of the House of Laity are ex-officio members of the Archbishops’ Council.)

David Lamming
David Lamming
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
9 months ago

Thank you, Simon, for the correction. My apologies.

David Lamming
David Lamming
Reply to  Realist
9 months ago

To be accurate, as it is important that we are with our comments (especially among all the misinformation emanating from the Archbishops’ Council), what is not now going to happen at General Synod next month is the presentation by Jasvinder and Steve that was more or less promised in February 2023 after a proposed following motion relating to the ISB was ruled out of order (see the report in the Church Times on 10 February 2023, page 4) and which was signposted for the Sunday afternoon at York in the ‘Outline of Business’ published on 9 May: “Safeguarding (to include… Read more »

Realist
Realist
Reply to  David Lamming
9 months ago

Thank you so much David, that’s very helpful and explains clearly what’s actually going on here. I’m obliged to you.

Kit
Kit
9 months ago

The Fringe Meeting to discuss the ISB was cancelled. This would have been a total farce in any event. Meg Munn Would have been on the podium as ISB Chair. But this would have resulted in an entirely foreseeable multi vehicle car crash pile up. If members of Synod, guests or press wanted to question or complain about the NST, NSG, NSSP, the Archbishops Council or William Nye, who would Meg Munn be representing? Would she be present at this Fringe event as the Chair of the ISB to hear these complaints and act on them, when these are serious… Read more »

Jeremy
Jeremy
Reply to  Kit
9 months ago

“Likewise the three hours of GS debate on the Sunday afternoon have now been salami sliced by more worship”
This would be a regrettably typical move by clergy who face a storm about governance: Reinforce clerical authority (and consume valuable time that could be spent on governance issues) by scheduling an unnecessary service.
I’ve seen it before.

Jonathan Jamal
Jonathan Jamal
9 months ago

I cannot help feeling reflecting on this shambles of Safeguarding within the Church of England, it has probably now reached a point where Justin Welby having been in Office almost 10 and a half years must now seriously consider his position as Archbishop of Canterbury. There is absolutely no need for him now to drift on in office until he is 70. He should seriously now be thinking of moving into Retirement and demiting office as Archbishop of Canterbury, at this stage he could now be doing more harm than good by continuing in office. May be now the Church… Read more »

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Jonathan Jamal
9 months ago

Given the failure of almost all bishops to speak up and speak out, do you believe that a change of leadership is likely to make a material change in culture and governance?

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Jonathan Jamal
9 months ago

I doubt he will. Archbishops in post are protected, but retired archbishops are subject to discipline – as Sentamu has discovered.

David Hawkins
David Hawkins
9 months ago

I recommend reading this https://www.churchofengland.org/media-and-news/press-releases/new-permanent-national-director-safeguarding-appointed It is a press release for the director of safeguarding but it could be a press release for a senior executive in an oil company with minimal alteration. It is full of management speak “systems’, “leadership”, “seniority”. It talks of victims as objects to be protected from harm. It says nothing at all about LISTENING, ENGAGEMENT, EMPATHY or CHRISTIAN LOVE. Of course not because this is all about dealing with the human anguish and despair of victims by means of management systems imposed from above. No wonder Jasvinder Sanghera ssys “The National Safeguarding director personally… Read more »

Last edited 9 months ago by David Hawkins
Susannah Clark
9 months ago

Did the appointment of Meg Munn contravene the Terms of Reference and the Phase 1 arrangements as published in February 2021? The 2021 Phase 1 arrangements stated (in section 4): “The appointment process of ISB members needs to communicate the commitment of the Church of England at the highest level to the principle of independence and, at the same time, demonstrate that the appointment process is not being manipulated in favour of “safe” candidates.” If the AC was inflexible over undertaking the Dispute Notice process *unless* as a pre-condition the ISB acquiesced over the appointment of Meg Munn… and if… Read more »

David Hawkins
David Hawkins
Reply to  Susannah Clark
9 months ago

Thank you Susannah !
How badly does the General Secretary and the clerical leadership have to behave before the Synod acts ?
Why does the Synod still have confidence in a leadership that fails vulnerable victims of abuse ?
Why does the Church of England employ a head of safeguarding who thinks it is wrong to be too focused on victims ?
The Glorious Revolution finally abolished the divine right of kings but apparently not the divine right of general secretaries !

Last edited 9 months ago by David Hawkins
Kit
Kit
Reply to  Susannah Clark
9 months ago

Susannah is correct. The two ISB board members could not continue with integrity. Their independence was being brutally undermined by Archbishops Council. Meg Munn’s hiring broke all the contractual arrangements, William Nye and the two Archbishops just bullied away at this. Alex K has emerged as a puppet Director of the NST with no understanding of the wider picture. Trust in the NST and Archbishops Council is over. This now needs an external intervention. The governance is a dangerous omnishambles led by weak bullies who assert their omnipotence and omniscience.

Andrew Graystone
Andrew Graystone
Reply to  Susannah Clark
9 months ago

I can answer these questions. There was no process in the appointment of Meg Munn, either formal or informal. So the answer to your questions is:
1: No
2: No
3: No
4: None
5: None
6: Ha ha ha ha ha! No.
7: It didn’t.
8: No
9: No.

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Andrew Graystone
9 months ago

If that is correct Andrew, and I would not doubt you, then making acceptance of the appointment a pre-condition for advancing the Dispute Notice to a resolution (as Jas Sanghera reports) is an outrageous action. You can’t really make acquiescing in your own rule-breaking a pre-condition for resolving problems. Combined with the blatant breach of the agreed process for an appointment itself, and the denial of an independent mediator, all these things only demonstrate that the ISB members were right to call out the Archbishops’ Council and suggest they were the ones who were impossible to work with. To have… Read more »

Gilo
Gilo
9 months ago

“A source in Church House insisted that efforts had been made to contact survivors in advance of the announcement.” Church Times article

Wait a minute…

How could Church House have contacted anyone in that hour between telling Jas and Steve and the statement going up on CofE website? Church House don’t have the data. Did they ask the two ISB members to hand over details of survivors in their care without permission? And if so – who did the asking?

What on earth was going on here? Looks like another aspect of the wider misgovernance in Ab Council and NST.

Last edited 9 months ago by Gilo
Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Gilo
9 months ago

If that is a breach of the Data Protection Act 2018, noting that it relates to sensitive personal data, then the ICO might be interested. Incidentally, as you and others probably know, the ICO can levy fines up to the higher of £17.5m or 4% of global annual turnover.

Adrian
Adrian
Reply to  Froghole
9 months ago

It was either a lie, wishful thinking (already done meaning we are about to get round to it), or an admission of a serious breach of data protection principles.

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Adrian
9 months ago

Were I a survivor I would submit a Subject Access Request to the National Safeguarding team to find out what personal data they hold on me to determine whether there has been a leak to them.

Vasantha Gnanadoss
Vasantha Gnanadoss
9 months ago

The debate on the Report of the Business Committee gives an opportunity to question items dropped from the agenda. GS members would need to submit requests to speak in the debate.

Susanna (no ‘h’)
Susanna (no ‘h’)
Reply to  Vasantha Gnanadoss
9 months ago

Sadly every new piece of information which trickles out seems more unprincipled than the one before, and it is hard not to despair The worst part however is that it looks as though sacking Jasvinder and Steve, however wrong it undoubtedly was and however many lies are now being told about the process, has allowed the AC to seize the initiative over safeguarding from GS unless members can organise themselves very rapidly to intervene. Earlier in one of these threads a contributor suggested that they did not think at present most GS members would see the current situation as a… Read more »

Graham Watts
Graham Watts
Reply to  Vasantha Gnanadoss
9 months ago

I would plead with all members of General Synod to ask searching questions and appropriate supplementals (if that is possible) to fully expose the shoddy behaviour here. Hopefully MSM will pick up on this if enough noise is made. As a survivor of abuse it enrages me when those ‘in power’ are so callous and uncaring preferring to protect the ‘reputation’ of the organisation – too late there! ABY said in interview ‘it breaks my heart’ I simply don’t believe him, its just a sound bite as he watches the clock as the interview runs out of time so that… Read more »

Last edited 9 months ago by Graham Watts
K. Anonymous
K. Anonymous
Reply to  Vasantha Gnanadoss
9 months ago

Another excellent idea! During the past week many good ideas have been suggested as to the ways in which Synod members might highlight this situation (including refusing to sit down when told to when speaking!). I am sure those in the Synod are already planning their strategies. We all wish you well and I think the numbers watching on live stream will massively increase.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  K. Anonymous
9 months ago

Refusing to sit down when told to doesn’t help, they’ll just turn the microphone off.

K. Anonymous
K. Anonymous
Reply to  Janet Fife
9 months ago

Janet! I never thought of that. Of course that is what they would do.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
9 months ago

This seems the appropriate place to add the draft Measure of the proposed Clergy Conduct Measure to be considered at the forthcoming GS. I expect TA will include it with other relevant papers. https://www.churchofengland.org/sites/default/files/2023-06/gs-2311-clergy-conduct-measure-1.pdf On a quick reading, it addresses some existing problems and anomalies which have significantly surfaced recently: A complaint against an Archbishop now falls to the President of Tribunals, not to the other Archbishop. Power of bishops to delegate their functions where authorised (this appears to address the perceived irregularity of delegation in the CDM of Martyn Percy). There is no time limit for bringing a complaint… Read more »

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
9 months ago

Those all appear at first sight to be positive changes.

Rev Dr Anne Morris
9 months ago

I wonder if the advert, in the middle of the Church Times coverage of the ISP debacle, for Justin Welby’s book on reconciliation, has been placed there by someone with an ironic sense of humour, or whether it is simply superbly offensive and inappropriate. I can’t decide.

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