Thinking Anglicans

Safeguarding Bishop admits that survivor was misled

press release 19 January 2024

A prominent campaigner alleges that senior leaders in the Church of England are protecting its Secretary General William Nye against allegations that he has put reputation management before the needs of abuse victims. The former Lead Bishop for Safeguarding admits that the survivor was misled.

Gilo is a survivor of non-recent sexual abuse in the Church of England, and a prominent campaigner on issues of church abuse.

Gilo’s abuse, and its subsequent handling by the church, were the subject of an inquiry by independent safeguarding expert Ian Elliott, which was published in March 2016. The inquiry report was highly critical of the Church’s treatment of Gilo, and particularly of the deliberate withdrawal of pastoral care from the victim, apparently on the instruction of the church’s insurer, Ecclesiastical. Rt Revd Sarah Mullally, who was then Bishop of Crediton, was assigned to ensure that the recommendations of the review were fulfilled.

After the publication of the Elliott Review, a secretive meeting was held in Church House in August 2016 in which the church’s National Safeguarding Team, in-house lawyers, and communications team met with four executives from Ecclesiastical to discuss “a joined-up approach to stories and the media”, to preserve the reputation of both parties in the case. Neither Ian Elliott nor Gilo was aware of the meeting, or consulted about it.

Following the meeting, Ecclesiastical publicly questioned parts of Elliott’s review. They continued this approach when giving evidence at IICSA, describing the review as ‘flawed’ and ‘inaccurate’. In particular they explicitly rejected the suggestion that the insurer had suggested that the church should withdraw pastoral support from the survivor.  The representatives of EIO were subsequently recalled to the Inquiry to revisit their evidence, and were forced to retract part of it.

Following the IICSA Inquiry, Gilo obtained evidence that the reputation management meeting between Ecclesiastical and the church had indeed taken place. When Gilo attempted to get an explanation from the National Safeguarding Team and the Bishop of London, they shut him down.

In 2020 Gilo made a complaint against William Nye, the Secretary-General of the Church of England, who has overall responsibility for safeguarding in the church. The thrust of the complaint was that Nye was responsible for the reputation management meeting that the National Safeguarding Team and others had held in August 2016. The complaint was internally investigated by Canon John Spence, the member of the Archbishop’s Council who had the role of line managing Mr Nye. Mr Spence, who described himself as a “friend” of William Nye, reported that there were no further records of the meeting or of what was discussed. Nor could any of the parties recollect it. In any case, he said,  William Nye could not have been present because “he always takes his holiday at that time of year.” Consequently Gilo’s complaint against William Nye was dismissed.

In mid-2022 Gilo wrote to a number of senior staff in the Church of England, including the two Archbishops and safeguarding leads, asking for an explanation. Once again, he was blanked.

In March 2023 the Lead Bishop for Safeguarding, Rt Revd Jonathan Gibbs, replied to Gilo admitting that church records showed the meeting about Gilo’s case had taken place, that William Nye had attended it, and that reputation management in relation to the church and its insurer had been discussed. He also admitted that Gilo’s “interests and well-being as a survivor were not as central as they should have been.”

Since July 2023 the Archbishops have repeatedly been asked by Gilo’s lawyer Richard Scorer for an explanation as to why the complaint against Nye had been dismissed on false grounds. The question has also been raised at General Synod. Repeated approaches have been left unanswered. In November 2023, the Archbishop of York, in a written response to a question at General Synod, said that an external firm of auditors had been engaged to conduct a “targeted” review. Neither Gilo, his lawyer or his advocate has been informed of the process of this review or invited to contribute to it.

Further information is available from Andrew Graystone
andrew.graystone1@btinternet.com

Attached below are:
Letter from Richard Scorer to the Archbishops of Canterbury and York
Extract from General Synod November 2023
Quotes from Gilo, Ian Elliott and others
Letter from Rt Revd Jonathan Gibbs

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Andrew Graystone
Andrew Graystone
1 month ago

Gilo’s case makes clear that the Secretary-General William Nye attended a meeting with the Church’s insurance company, behind the back of the victim, and discussed how to manage the reputation of the church. When a complaint was made against Nye, the church falsely denied that he had been present, so the complaint against him was dismissed. In a further report in today’s Telegraph, it is clear that the actions of William Nye in abruptly closing the Independent Safeguarding Board, against the wishes of both archbishops, and in the face of warnings from safeguarding professionals, has caused actual harm to survivors.… Read more »

David Hawkins
David Hawkins
Reply to  Andrew Graystone
1 month ago

Can you provide a link to the Telegraph report, please? Searching the Telegraph website yields nothing.

David Lamming
David Lamming
Reply to  David Hawkins
1 month ago

This is the link to the Telegraph story: “Scrapping CofE safeguarding board left victims suicidal, report warns”: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2024/01/20/church-of-england-abuse-independent-safeguarding-board/ Andrew Graystone is quoted in the report as saying: “It was [Nye’s] decision to terminate the Independent Safeguarding Board in the way that he did, without giving notice to survivors and with no proper care and support in place. He was warned by the Church’s own safeguarding professionals that his actions could cause serious harm to survivors of church abuse, but he went ahead anyway. “Following Mr Glasgow’s report, we now know that there was significant harm, and that some survivors were put at risk… Read more »

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
1 month ago

“After the publication of the Elliott Review, a secretive meeting was held in Church House in August 2016 in which the church’s National Safeguarding Team, in-house lawyers, and communications team met with four executives from Ecclesiastical to discuss ‘a joined-up approach to stories and the media’”, A couple of decades ago, a book was published in the USA called, I believe, The Tobacco Papers. The tobacco industry in the USA for decades had been marking every document any employee created, no matter the topic, as privileged attorney-client information, so that no outsider could see it. But one day, an employee… Read more »

Martin Sewell
Martin Sewell
Reply to  peterpi - Peter Gross
1 month ago

I believe Gilo’s evidence to be robust but that is not quite the point here. First we have the Secretary General credibly accused of causing significant harm to persons with known vulnerability after being specifically warmed of that likely outcome. Second, he is credibly accused of permitting a complaint against him to be dismissed on a false premise which he knows. This is the CEO of Archbishops’ Council of the largest religious charity in the country worth £10.6bn. In addition there are multiple failures referenced in the Wilkinson Review.and the strongest likelihood’s that the Jay Report will recommend that it… Read more »

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
Reply to  Martin Sewell
1 month ago

Thanks for your reply.
I am arguing that, unfortunately, the upper echelons of the CofE are acting like too many other human institutions when faced with potential evidence of wrongdoing or harm: Circle the wagons, deny, play PR games, etc., without seriously looking at the problem and deciding how to resolve it.

David Lamming
David Lamming
Reply to  Martin Sewell
1 month ago

One correction, Martin. The Archbishops’ Council is not “the largest religious charity in the country worth £10.6bn.” That is the Church Commissioners, a separate charity, in the governance of which Nye has no role to play. The secretary and chief executive of the Church Commissioners is Gareth Mostyn, and it has 33 trustees, albeit some are also members of the Archbishops’ Council or General Synod. William Nye (and I quote from his job specification) is “Secretary General, General Synod and Archbishops’ Council” and it is in that capacity (specifically as S-G of the Archbishops’ Council) that he is being justly… Read more »

Paul Needle
Paul Needle
1 month ago

I am sad to read this. It tells me that some senior members of the church establishment are corrupt. At a time when we vehemently condemn other areas of public life fir this sort of mendacity we should be different and we are as bas or worse than they are. Why are members of all 3 houses of Synod not as angry about this and other abuses as people are at the Post zoffice scandal. Why are they not urging roper apologies and resignations? As the Old Testament Prophets would be saying the church is rotten from the top of… Read more »

Realist
Realist
Reply to  Paul Needle
1 month ago

In some ways, we who are ‘members’ of the C of E (not that the denomination actually has members) get the Synod we deserve, and I include myself in this. I have usually avoided Deanery Synod meetings like the plague (and continue to do so) because they are a combination of tedious presentations and a talking shop for those who like the sound of their own voices. I have never stood for election to Diocesan Synod, partly for the same reasons and also because dissenting from anything the powers that be want to be rubber stamped is a dangerous pastime… Read more »

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
1 month ago

It has taken enormous persistence and hard work on the part of Gilo, Richard Scorer, Andrew Graystone, and others to get the story this far. They are to be congratulated.

Gilo is not alone in being on the receiving end of this treatment – it’s the C of E’s default approach to survivors (with a few honourable exceptions). If the present leadership can’t change their methods, we need a change of leadership.

Interested Observer
Interested Observer
1 month ago

Perhaps the CofE could take advice from Justin Welby’s friend and prospective bishop of London, Paula Vennells, on the long-term benefits of stone-walling and reputation management? How has that worked out for the Post Office, do we think?

T Pott
T Pott
Reply to  Interested Observer
1 month ago

For the Post Office: poorly. For Justin s friend: humongous bonuses and no criminal charges.

Anthony Archer
Anthony Archer
Reply to  T Pott
1 month ago

Yet.

Realist
Realist
Reply to  Anthony Archer
1 month ago

We can but hope, Anthony. I add to that no C of E disciplinary action. I would say I hope that will follow, should personal wrongdoing be conclusively established against Mrs Vennells, as she would then have well and truly strayed into conduct unbecoming a clerk in holy orders, however vaguely the system might define that term. But I’m not holding my breath. It’s far more likely there’ll be hand wringing and meaningless platitudes, but no action and no justice.

The caring sharing C of E….don’t you love it?

Gilo
Gilo
1 month ago

I think there are four disturbing components of this story. There may be others; please add further insights. 1. The NST was quite wrongly deployed in reputation management discussion with the insurer. Whatever we think the NST is for, I hope all Synod would agree that their National Safeguarding Team should not be in the business of working out a “joined up approach to stories and the media” with the insurer, especially when that insurer (Ecclesiastical) has been found to have played fast and loose at the Inquiry for the purposes of reputation management and public image. 2. Then there’s… Read more »

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Pilgrim
Pilgrim
Reply to  Gilo
1 month ago

Gilo, may you continue to find courage to achieve fairness and justice in this struggle, more power to your elbow. You are an inspiration to many.

Gilo
Gilo
Reply to  Gilo
1 month ago

Reading through the comments, I realised I’d left out another important theme: 5. Had IICSA been aware of this meeting, it would have significantly helped the Inquiry’s line of questioning to both Archbishops Council and Ecclesiastical. Its omission can be seen in effect as misleading to that Inquiry. When EIO was recalled to the Inquiry and reprimanded for playing fast and loose for the purposes of reputational management [see below], the Church let the insurer take ALL the hit. It seems the Church was keen to make sure dots were not joined between the hips of the two organizations –… Read more »

Maungyvicar
Maungyvicar
1 month ago

I wonder how much it would cost to agree a settlement with the Secretary General, to part ways? It’s hard to guess, and I asume that someone so high up would get a significantly better deal than any survivor of clerical abuse, but if it were £250-500k, perhaps at the higher end of that scale, I think at this point that it would be worth it. A dismissal is an alternative, with the reputational damage of dragging everything through an Employment Tribunal and therefore into the public domain, so I think the ++s would consider anything less than £300k. As… Read more »

David G
David G
Reply to  Maungyvicar
1 month ago

Mr Nye does not have to comply with the clergy code of conduct, alas; but you’d really hope the SecGen was not millions of miles below such standards. It seems he is. As for Nolan Principles, Mr Nye is anti-Nolan, and to be honest, has made the Archbishops’ Council look shoddy, dishonest, incompetent, unaccountable, secretive and stupid. Instead of presiding over governance that would stand up to decent public scrutiny, as per his job description, Mr Nye has effectively battened down the hatches, ignored public standards, openly misled IICSA, and continues to deceive General Synod members and the wider CofE… Read more »

Lizzie Taylor
Lizzie Taylor
Reply to  Maungyvicar
1 month ago

Please God no. Instead, proper employment processes should be followed, certainly not more reputation management. If there’s a high enough level of misconduct, then there should be dismissal, backed up by proper legal advice and process. It would be outrageous for a big payout to be made if dismissal were to be warranted. This is churchgoers’ giving and assets we are talking about! And there may be an ugly contrast with what survivors have variously received. That would be a further moral outrage and so a further harm. Clergy and laity need to see proper processes of accountability, transparent even… Read more »

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Maungyvicar
1 month ago

The problem may be that Mr Nye knows too much to be dismissed. The archbishops may feel it’s safer to keep him on board, even if that precipitates the sinking of the ship.

Lizzie Taylor
Lizzie Taylor
Reply to  Janet Fife
1 month ago

He himself might decide it’s better to stand back at this point, out of concern for the Church.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Lizzie Taylor
1 month ago

He should, of course. So should the archbishops, if dodgy dealing is proven against them; or if there are strong grounds to suspect it. But the C of E is set up to protect senior people, at the expense of lower-ranked clergy, laity, survivors, truth, decency, and the Church’s credibility and witness to the gospel.

Realist
Realist
Reply to  Janet Fife
1 month ago

I totally agree, Janet. If any of them still has an ounce of integrity or any truly Christian belief left, the guilty ones would step back of their own volition, for the good of the Church, and the good of their souls.

But the lure and hold of unaccountable power are strong and insidious temptations, and organizational group think is a pernicious deceptor. So many atrocities, large and small scale, have resulted (and are still resulting) from such combinations of factors.

T Pott
T Pott
1 month ago

Bishop tells lies – Dog Bites Man

Bishop Tells Truth – Man Bites Dog

Alison
Alison
1 month ago

I was listening to a Radio 4 documentary about a shockingly corrupt church in Nigeria. It invited the listener to join in being horrified at the abuse, lies and cover-ups. As I was listening I thought but there is no difference to the Church of England… at all. Which should cause deep consternation if it hadn’t all become normalised. An utter disgrace..

Susanna ( no ‘h’)
Susanna ( no ‘h’)
Reply to  Alison
1 month ago

I heard that too and shuddered.

Gilo , I think a lot of us are following your struggle with admiration for your tenacity and determination while feeling angry and helpless as there seems so little we can usefully do to help.
So many of the posts over the last few days can be summed up as C of E Safeguarding Still Stalled…. So it is very interesting that the topic of safeguarding does not seem to have reached the agenda for the meeting of the House of Bishops

Fr Dean
Fr Dean
1 month ago

The CofE will never thrive whilst these scoundrels are in charge. Reputation management indeed – how’s that going?

Sam Norton
1 month ago

Having been vexed and troubled by the institutional church for so long, I’ve recently taken great comfort from an expression I’ve discovered: “The purpose of a system is what it does.” I was vexed and troubled because I was expecting Christian behaviour. If I understand the purpose, instead, as corporate PR and reality-avoidance then there is no longer a contradiction between expectation and result. I feel like I’m rediscovering the peace that the world cannot give.

All peace and strength to Gilo and those in similar situations.

A not so humble parishioner
A not so humble parishioner
Reply to  Sam Norton
1 month ago

I suppose the question is do you wish to be part of an organisation that has these aims and behaviours as opposed to centring Christ?

A not so humble parishioner
A not so humble parishioner
1 month ago

The same mistakes over and over again regarding a corporate approach to reputation management, doing far more damage to the church’s reputation than just being honest and open with survivors ever would.

The church is aping other institutions here and failing to understand that people have run out of patience for those who knowingly try and create plausible lies to reduce liability. It is no wonder that the church leadership has been so enamoured with flawed corporate leaders.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  A not so humble parishioner
1 month ago

I don’t think they’re mistakes, I think they’re intentional

FearandTremolo
FearandTremolo
1 month ago

This might be a silly question, but what does a Secretary-General actually do? Other than be, apparently, a dodgy charity CEO.

Susanna ( no ‘h’)
Susanna ( no ‘h’)
Reply to  FearandTremolo
1 month ago

He runs the court which makes the XXs feel important

Anthony Archer
Anthony Archer
1 month ago

William Nye is the third holder of the office of Secretary-General of the Archbishops’ Council, the first being Sir Philip Mawer, and the second the late Sir William Fittall. It is noteworthy that all three were out of Whitehall, although latterly Nye was a Royal courtier. It was always assumed that the role was akin to that of a Permanent Secretary. Now my knowledge of the workings of Government is slight (I should re-read Peter Hennessy’s magisterial work Whitehall) but I do understand the arcane workings of the Church of England’s national institutions, the most siloed structure imaginable. Given that… Read more »

Mike Nash
Mike Nash
Reply to  Anthony Archer
1 month ago

“Given that the primary task of civil servants is to cover the backsides of ministers . . .” That’s a silly and cheap shot, Mr Archer. Most civil servants have quite important other jobs in say, defence, education, transport, etc, etc but, of course, they grow used to such daft jibes. As I’m sure you’re aware the role of civil servants is to put into effect the policy of the minister, that is that person who is put into place by the electorate. Often, and especially now with such rapid changes in personnel, it is quite difficult to know what… Read more »

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  Mike Nash
1 month ago

Mike, I wonder if there is a helpful answer somewhere between Anthony Archer’s post and yours. If you compare the CVs of the three named holders of the office of Secretary-General (easily found on line) then it can be seen that all three were senior civil servants. But whilst two of them had experience of roles in public facing policy (for example supporting the Scarman enquiry into the Toxteth riots, or work in the Northern Ireland Office) William Nye’s last roles before the church were as a director in the Cabinet Office National Security Secretariat (liaising with spies and spooks)… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Simon Dawson
1 month ago

I have been offline for a few days, but have noted this little debate with interest. What I should mention is that the association of the position of secretary-general with the civil service is yet another instance of a recently ‘invented tradition’. In this case it dates back only to Sir Derek Pattinson in 1972 (Pattinson had been in the Inland Revenue and, frankly, eventually came to be a good advertisement for *not* appointing someone of that particular personality type to the role). Prior to 1972 it was a rather different story. The first secretary of the Church Assembly (1920-39)… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Froghole
1 month ago

Lewis *George* Dibdin.

T Pott
T Pott
Reply to  Froghole
1 month ago

Mr Froghole. I have marvelled before at the immensity of your knowledge. I now read that you have been off line for a few days but have noted the debate with interest.

How did you manage to follow the debate despite being offline? No, don’t tell me. It would spoil the mystique.

Mike Nash
Mike Nash
Reply to  Simon Dawson
1 month ago

Well Simon, I fear I rose to the bait. But within the points of Antony Archer above and Mr Froghole below there runs a disturbing thread. I’m told that Maggie Thatcher was wont to say of new cabinet members and high level civil appointments “Is he one of us?” and while she would tolerate the expression of contrary views in her court I think her recent successors will only accept those around who agree with them. Articulate and intelligent these parties may be but it seems to me that robust independence of mind is missing. One of the advantages of… Read more »

David Rees
David Rees
1 month ago

Gilo, Martin Sewell, Andrew Graystone and ‘others’ in the ‘thread- please consider working together {including Slater Gordon} with a ‘joined up story’ to see if one of the television channels would work with you to produce something along the lines of Mr Bates and the Post Office or for Television News. Bring the issue to the attention of the following people on the Ecclesiastical Committee of the House of Commons asking if they would support you in the ‘public realm’ or on the ‘floor of the House’: Jim Shannon MP, Sir Stephen Timms MP, David Lammy MP, Andrew Selous MP… Read more »

Martin Sewell
Martin Sewell
Reply to  David Rees
1 month ago

Trust me, conversations have begun: the Post Office comparison is so close that people who once were not interested are beginning to see that there might be a public appetite for such coverage. This is the Established Church we are talking about with Bishops opining from a privileged position in the House of Lords on a variety of issues. I have always been in favour of that role but as the Church has surrendered the moral high ground and behaves towards its victim not better than the Post Office I am fast moving to the New York attitude towards dodgy… Read more »

Susanna ( no ‘h’)
Susanna ( no ‘h’)
Reply to  Martin Sewell
1 month ago

And presumably there has been a resounding silence from both XXs in response to your letter? They are obviously busy men down in Wonderland.

Malcolm Dixon
Malcolm Dixon
Reply to  David Rees
1 month ago

There is one snag with this potential drama-documentary. I would hazard a guess that far more people make regular use of their local post offices than make use of their parish church, even these days including for the ‘occasional offices’, now that so many weddings are held in secular establishments or in exotic foreign climes, and so many deceased are despatched via direct cremations with no ceremony. This could rather limit the potential interested audience.

Ian
Ian
Reply to  Malcolm Dixon
1 month ago

I think you make a good point. I remember being told by a distinguished Archdeacon( who was a Church Commissioner ) ” If we lose theWeddings, we ccan manage. If we lose the funerals, we’re XXXXed. Well, we are aren’t we?

Jonathan Jamal
Jonathan Jamal
1 month ago

I may be simplistic in my approach, but looking at Sin in the life of any Church, whether it be for example my own Church the Roman Catholic Church, the Orthodox Churches of the East, the Free Churches or here the Church of England, we are told clearly in Scripture in the Letter of St Peter, that the Judgement begins in the Household of God, in this case the Church, before it begins in the World, I believe at any stage in the History of the Christian Church, and even at present , God is moving in Judgement yet in… Read more »

Susan Hunt
Susan Hunt
Reply to  Jonathan Jamal
1 month ago

The last two responses I found very inspiring and encouraging. Martin, please use whatever influence and people you have to help bring this about. We know from the Post Office Drama that the scriptwriters can take incriminating facts from numerous people over many years and make them into a gripping drama. In the Church of England there is an abundace of people and facts. One of the strengths in the P.O. series was the excellence of the actors to portray the victims and there is no shortage of proven actors of talent and quality. Let’s give it to them; we… Read more »

John Davies
John Davies
Reply to  Susan Hunt
1 month ago

Sadly not everybody in the CofE appears to actually believe in the judgement of God these days! I’ve annoyed a few folks before now for saying something similar. However, God is not mocked – and having seen all, and taken note, has a habit of shouting it from the rooftops.

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