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.
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 ISB: Statement 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:
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