Thinking Anglicans

QC criticises Church of England safeguarding reviews

Updated again Tuesday morning

Continuing the story from here.

The BBC Radio 4 weekly religious news programme, Sunday, today carried an interview with Matt Ineson. This was followed by an interview with Kate Blackwell QC. You can hear both of these here (go forward 33 minutes). The latter contains very serious criticisms of the Church of England’s handling of safeguarding reviews in general and of this case in particular.

Kate Blackwell’s professional CV is available here, and her Wikipedia page contains more interesting information on her.

The Church of England declined to put up anyone to respond to either interview.

Updates

This morning’s Church of England daily media digest report did not include this item (even though it did include an earlier item from the same radio programme).

Further update: it was included on Tuesday in the following terms:

BBC Radio 4 Sunday programme
Item on prospective safeguarding review (from around 33 minutes 07 seconds)
https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m0007b3r

See more detail in the comments below.

A full transcript of both interviews has now been published here.

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Fr. Dean Henley
Fr. Dean Henley
11 months ago

‘The Church of England declined to put up anyone to respond to either interview.’ As I read those words the parable of the importunate widow and the unjust judge in Luke 18 came to mind. Matt Ineson shouldn’t have to keep asking for justice from the Church but his persistence has a noble and godly quality to it. I have no doubt it is not without a cost to himself but through the process he is being vindicated. My prayer is that he is well supported by loving family and friends and that he gains strength from them. Conversely the… Read more »

David Lamming
David Lamming
11 months ago

This morning’s Church of England ‘Daily media digest’, while noting the interview at the beginning of yesterday’s ‘Sunday’ programme with the Bishop of Ripon, Dr Helen-Ann Hartley, on the response to flood damage in parts of the north of England, makes no reference to these significant interviews with Matt Ineson and Kate Blackwell QC at the end of the programme. An exercise in news management by C of E Comms? Or were they directed by others not to mention them?

Will Richards
Will Richards
11 months ago
Reply to  David Lamming

Several years ago, Martyn Percy referred to the management culture Welby had brought in to the Church of England as ‘Putinesque.’ Here’s the proof, if we didn’t know it already. The comms people seem to be little more than stooges for those who wield power higher up the food chain. When, a couple of years ago, just after regime change in comms, when Aron Arora (who always replied to emails personally) left, I pointed out that the ‘front page’ of the C of E website was misleading in stating that there were 42 cathedrals. I was told that this simple… Read more »

David Lamming
David Lamming
11 months ago
Reply to  Will Richards

Having raised the issue this morning, this is the reply I received this afternoon from Tashi Lassalle, the C of E Director of Communications (Arun Arora’s successor): “Many thanks for getting in touch. Sexual abuse and questions around and safeguarding are an absolutely vital matter and, as you’ll be aware, media coverage around this whole area is included in the Media Digest on a daily basis. Because we do not produce the Digest on Saturdays or Sundays during the summer holiday period we try to include some references to the Sunday programme (and other weekend outlets) on a Monday but… Read more »

Matthew Ineson
Matthew Ineson
11 months ago
Reply to  David Lamming

David, They weren’t too busy over the weekend to send an email to the bbc, and ring them, with information that was misleading to try and deflect the truth of the story. Thank goodness the bbc took no notice. Among several misleading things they told the bbc was that no ‘reviewer’ into the Devamanikkam case had been appointed. That is totally untrue as I have been in touch with the proposed reviewer several times who has confirmed he has been appointed. This is only one thing they weren’t truthful about. There were others. Funny how they can ‘try to include… Read more »

Michael Mulhern
Michael Mulhern
11 months ago
Reply to  Matthew Ineson

When is someone on the General Synod going to ask some serious and sustained questions about who is controlling the flow of information? We’ve seen enough in the previous five posts, including worrying information from Matthew Ineson himself, that spin and dissembling are the stock-in-trade at Church House. The C of E’s reputation as a reliable institution is already in tatters, why do we persist in digging deeper holes for ourselves? Are members of the General Synod seriously comfortable being the elected representatives of an organisation like this? And is this behaviour a reflection (to use Justin Welby’s favourite mantra)… Read more »

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
11 months ago

A few General Synod members are trying to do this, but the agenda is controlled by the Business Committee and the archbishops – as we saw when they refused Synod the chance to discuss the Blackburn Letter. There needs to be a much more widespread movement among Synod members to hold the leaders to account. Synod member Martin Sewell addresses this point in his chapter ‘Synod Members – Do Your Job!’ in ‘Letters to a Broken Church’.

Stanley Monkhouse
11 months ago
Reply to  Janet Fife

Concerning “Letters to a Broken Church”: I’m digesting it at present. Sad, prophetic, shocking, despairing, courageous. Thank you Janet and Gilo.

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
11 months ago
Reply to  David Lamming

“Given the importance of safeguarding the interview in question will be included in tomorrow’s digest”

Tomorrow has arrived and near its end – I can see no interview in the Digest.

My guess is that, as Her Majesty is Supreme Governor of the Church of England, the Church PR Comms comes under the umbrella of the Crown’s PR Comms. In other words, the likes of William Nye and Jacqui Philips report directly to the Crown.

If that guess is reasonably accurate, then it’s a wholly different propaganda ball-game – with Royal Prerogative immunity and protection etc etc.

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
11 months ago

I can’t see it Simon.

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
11 months ago

“They spin what they like” ~ Matt Ineson (above)

Yes, and they can do that with immunity and impunity which, of course, is an abuse of power and more besides.

It would appear they are untouchable – and they know it.

Mark Bennet
Mark Bennet
11 months ago
Reply to  David Lamming

I think the significance of this is that a media briefing should enable an organisation to see how it is being perceived from outside – people in significant public ministry need to know about this kind of thing because they need to be aware of the public space into which they are speaking. It looks as though someone is trying to preserve an internal narrative rather than engaging with the world beyond. I thought internal media briefings were supposed to tell it as it is.

Fr Martin Hislop
Fr Martin Hislop
11 months ago

There is a pressing need for an independent Ecclesiastical Ombudsman and for the Established church to be made subject to the Freedom of Information legislation.

Graeme Buttery
Graeme Buttery
11 months ago

Can I just say, without breaking confidences, that if you think that the Business Committee of the General Synod controls the agenda, you give them far too much power. They are very much subject to other forces. Their ability to control the agenda is limited by Standing Orders, the Presidents and other National Church Institutions. Pretty much all they can do is look at what is before them and try and fit into a coherent whole. They can not suggest items of business for the agenda. I wish they could do more sometimes, such as on this issue. What Matthew… Read more »

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
11 months ago
Reply to  Graeme Buttery

That’s interesting. But don’t they determine the timing of debates and contributions? Martin Sewell was prevented from giving his planned speech on questioning the Presidents’ refusal to allow discussion of the Blackburn Letter, by the chair at the time limiting speeches to 3 minutes. And that was such an important question that needed to be discussed.

RosalindR
RosalindR
11 months ago
Reply to  Janet Fife

It is the chair of the debate who makes a decision on who to call and speech length. Anyone putting in to speak knows that the 5 minute length could be reduced at any time, and if it is a debate with a lot of potential speakers, possibly from the beginning. The Chair will, or course, be working with Synod officials to work out who to call and may have been given “guidance”. I am wondering whether one way for Synod members to discuss these matters (though this would be without public reporting) would be in convocations and the House… Read more »

Graeme buttery
Graeme buttery
11 months ago
Reply to  RosalindR

Rosalind, it would have to be a house of clergy meeting as the bishops are members of the convocation

Graeme

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
11 months ago
Reply to  Graeme Buttery

“Perhaps a church revolution is needed” – Graeme Buttery 2019

“We have got to make a revolution in our thinking” ~ Bishop George Bell 1941

[Source: “George Bell, Bishop of Chichester – Church, State, and Resistance in the Age of Dictatorship” by Andrew Chandler – Appendix 2 ‘Evil’s Bid for the World’s Soul’ – Page 189. Eerdmans 2016]

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