Thinking Anglicans

Safeguarding: some further articles

Updated with more articles on Friday

Meg Munn, chair of the Church of England’s National Safeguarding Panel, has written this: QUESTIONING THE TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT FRAMEWORK. The whole article is worth a read.

On the topic of Victims and Survivors, she wrote this:

The panel was asked to consider a paper on the setting up of an Ombudsman service to adjudicate on the handling of complaints. The view of the panel was that there are currently many concerns among victims and survivors that are not properly handled, that much more needed to be done about the processes at an early stage. I represented this view at the National Safeguarding Steering Group in early April and am pleased that this was understood and consideration to how to proceed is taking place.

The recent report by the Social Care Institute for Excellence which includes a significant section on improving responses provides a lot of important information regarding the experience of a number of survivors of abuse. The findings are detailed and it will take time for the range of issues to be fully considered. What jumps out is the poor ongoing response to survivors. The importance of maintaining contact and keeping survivors up to date with any action is essential.

The recent interview of the Archbishop of Canterbury on Channel 4 news raised concerns about the glacial progress of a review into the activities of John Smyth. While there may be real difficulties in gaining co-operation of the organisation at the centre of this case, the Church must communicate more regularly and clearly about their actions otherwise it is not surprising that survivors lose heart. I am urging those concerned to consider how they can proceed as soon as possible.

On the latter point, today’s Church Times has a report by Madeleine Davies headlined Smyth abuse-survivors dispute Welby claim.

SURVIVORS of abuse perpetrated by John Smyth have written to Lambeth Palace to correct the Archbishop of Canterbury’s assertion that Smyth was “not actually an Anglican” — a comment made during an interview on Channel 4 News last week.

In total, the letter lists 14 points of dispute about the Archbishop’s comments.

During the interview on Friday, which explored the Church of England’s response to Smyth’s abuse, Archbishop Welby said that Smyth “was not actually an Anglican. The church he went to in South Africa was not Anglican, and Iwerne was not part of the Church of England.”

Smyth was living in South Africa when a disclosure of abuse was made in Ely diocese in 2013, and died there last year. He was a former chairman of the Iwerne Trust, which ran holiday camps for boys at English public schools, and is now part of the Titus Trust. A six-month Channel 4 News investigation, broadcast two years ago, found that both the Iwerne Trust and Winchester College had learned of allegations of abuse by Mr Smyth in the 1980s, but failed to report them to the police (News, 10 February 2017).

One of the survivors who wrote to Lambeth Palace this week, Graham*, described the claim that Smyth was not an Anglican as “farcical”, given that he worshipped in the C of E.. The letter tells the Archbishop that Smyth had in fact been a licensed Reader in the diocese of Winchester…

Do read the entire article for further details.

Update

Law & Religion UK has published two articles recently discussing Mandatory Reporting. The most recent one is IICSA second seminar on mandatory reporting  and the earlier one was IICSA and mandatory reporting of child sexual abuse: update. These contain numerous links to the IICSA materials on this subject, which deserve careful study.  L&R UK comments:

An earlier IICSA seminar on mandatory reporting took place on 27 September 2018 and considered existing obligations to report child sexual abuse in England and Wales, as well as international models of mandatory reporting. A report of that seminar has been published on the website and the 11 presentations are also available to read on the mandatory reporting seminar page.

On 17 April we posted an update on mandatory reporting in which we indicated that Bates Wells Braithwaite had reported that the IICSA was actively considering the question of introducing mandatory reporting of child sexual abuse in England and Wales; the Inquiry has consulted with the Victims and Survivors Forum, a self-nominating group of victims and survivors of child sexual abuse, and has now published a summary of responses: Mandatory reporting of child sexual abuse: A survey of the Victims and Survivors Forum, in which the great majority of respondents from the Forum (88.6%) were in favour of introducing mandatory reporting.

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Mark Bennet
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Mark Bennet

The points made about training need to be developed, I think. I am involved with three organisations (Church, VC school, MAT) which require me to do safeguarding training and keep it up to date. There is no recognition of training between organisations and there is a lot of common material. Some training is delivered better than others – the safer recruiting training in education is streets ahead of what I received in relation to church. My secondary safeguarding training was not accepted for my work with a primary school (wrong phase) and I was informed I had to do training… Read more »

Helen King
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Helen King

Just having just done my 4th session of safeguarding training (C3, following C0, C1 and a day course run by the Methodists which was compulsory for my role as a Street Pastor), I found Meg Munn’s piece interesting. As well as the inevitable overlap in what we were covering, there was direct overlap in the course videos between the online C1 and the face-to-face C3. Meg Munn mentions the use of case studies ‘based on real life examples’. In the C3 training, someone on our table remarked on the similarities between one of the case studies we were given to… Read more »

Dean Henley
Guest
Dean Henley

His Grace did not give a convincing account of either himself or of the CofE’s position with regard to Smyth and the Iwerne Trust. I found my toes were curling as he equivocated. The interviewer gave him an out by introducing the subject of the chaotic home life he had endured but it all felt very unsatisfactory. I was left feeling that for all the difficulties he faced he has enjoyed a hugely privileged life that many of the victims and survivors of clerical abuse could only dream of; and he of all people has the power to give them… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Guest

An example of such unholy equivocation can be seen in eight words by the Archbishop’s ally, the Bishop of Chichester Martin Warner:

“We never asserted the guilt of Bishop Bell”

[Source: IICSA Transcript – Wednesday March 14 2018 – Page 23 – Para 9]

Richard W. Symonds
Guest

To add to the equivocation – and confusion – the Bishop of Chichester Martin Warner followed up his statement “We never asserted the guilt of Bishop Bell” with “George Bell cannot be proven guilty”. That led to a letter by the former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey to Bishop Warner, which ended: “I do so hope that you will find a way to finish off that statement that ‘George Bell cannot be proven guilty’ with the corresponding conclusion therefore he must be considered entirely innocent”. But the Bishop of Chichester is unjustly equivocating – refusing to clear Bishop Bell’s name… Read more »

John Swanson
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John Swanson

“I do so hope that you will find a way to finish off that statement that ‘George Bell cannot be proven guilty’ with the corresponding conclusion therefore he must be considered entirely innocent”. In (a) a court of law, when (b) someone is charged with a criminal offence, (c) in the current UK legal system, the corresponding conclusion to “cannot be proven guilty” is indeed “must be considered entirely innocent”. We need to remind ourselves once again that this conclusion ceases to follow in most other contexts. (That is a general point of principle that applies regardless of whatever conclusions… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Guest

Following on from Mr Swanson’s above comments, the experience of Sister Frances Dominica is noteworthy: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/apr/02/i-want-to-be-a-voice-for-the-voiceless-says-helen-house-nun-left-in-limbo-over-sex-abuse-allegations Sister Dominica says: “In this country you are supposed to be innocent until you are proved guilty. But in any kind of safeguarding issue, it feels as if you are guilty until proved innocent…But if you don’t go to trial, you are never found innocent” In her case, the Crown Prosecution Service [CPS] took no further action due to “insufficient evidence”, thus “finding herself in a form of reputational limbo – publicly accused of serious crimes but neither convicted of them by a jury… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Guest

Please forgive me for focusing more on those falsely or wrongfully accused (eg Bishop Bell), than those who have been victims of sexual abuse. But, as it has already been said, these critical abuse issues are “two sides of the same coin” (below): IICSA Transcript – Monday March 5 – Page 129 -Paras. 2-19 – Richard Scorer [Counsel for the complainants, victims and survivors represented by Slater & Gordon]: “…this is not simply an issue of attitude but of competence too. This is a point which has been made powerfully by Martin Sewell, who is both a lay member of… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Guest

A Church paved only with good and godly intentions is not enough to protect and safeguard children (and others) from abuse – sexual or otherwise.

John Swanson
Guest
John Swanson

Richard My reading is that it is the failures of process in handling complaints of abuse that were described by Mr Sewell as “two sides of the same coin”, and not, as you extend it, that those falsely accused of abuse and those who are victims of abuse are two sides of the same coin. Being falsely accused of abuse is, clearly, a dreadful thing to have happen and it can have devastating consequences for the person thus accused. But it is not, I submit, of the same order as being a victim of sexual abuse (either in terms of… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Guest

I think that’s a fair point – thank you – but the Bishop Bell case is such a catastrophic failure of process that it is very, very wrong for Archbishop Welby to IMPLY Bishop Bell’s guilt by his monstrous “significant cloud” comment.

Bishop Bell is innocent in law. Period. Archbishop Welby puts himself above the law by refusing to accept that.

Jo B
Guest
Jo B

I think there are so many variables in play it’s hard to compare the impacts of false accusations with the impacts of abuse. There are some commonalities, in the victims often not being believed, in the desperate soul-searching that can lead to the victim blaming themselves, in the feeling of betrayal by someone you trusted. There are of course also differences, but false accusations wreck lives. Even a false accusation can stop you ever working again.

Susannah Clark
Guest
Susannah Clark

“Please forgive me for focusing more on those falsely or wrongfully accused (eg Bishop Bell), than those who have been victims of sexual abuse.” I’m sorry Richard, but you’re doing this again. I regard it as wrong of you to state as *fact* that Bishop Bell has been falsely or wrongfully accused. You do not know that. None of us do. What a terrible thing to say about a woman, ‘Carol’, who for all we know may have made an entirely true allegation. You seem to be conflating the ‘legal technicality’ of “not guilty” without proof, and the entirely different… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Guest

Susannah, I understand what you are saying but I strongly disagree with you on a number of levels – and I know for a fact I am not alone in that disagreement with you. John Swanson put it well [above]: ‘“I do so hope that you will find a way to finish off that statement that ‘George Bell cannot be proven guilty’ with the corresponding conclusion therefore he must be considered entirely innocent” [Former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey to present Bishop of Chichester Martin Warner – Ed] ‘In (a) a court of law, when (b) someone is charged with… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Guest

Sister Francis Dominica’s ‘sexual abuse’ case is worth mentioning again: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/apr/02/i-want-to-be-a-voice-for-the-voiceless-says-helen-house-nun-left-in-limbo-over-sex-abuse-allegations Sister Frances concludes: “If you don’t go to trial you’re never found innocent”. Football manager Dave Jones managed to go to trial in his ‘sexual abuse’ case – although his life was almost destroyed by doing so – and was found not guilty. Judge David Clarke QC concluded: “No doubt there will be people who are going to think there is no smoke without fire. I can do nothing about that except to say such an attitude would be wrong. No wrong-doing whatsoever on your part has been established”… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest
Susannah Clark

“In the Bishop Bell ‘sexual abuse’ case, no wrong-doing whatsoever on his part has been established.” No it hasn’t. I agree. But that doesn’t justify you saying that Carol has wrongly or falsely accused him. That is my complaint, Richard. That denigrates a poor woman. If that’s the culture of our Church, I want no part in it. It really doesn’t help the process. I repeat: we don’t factually know that Bishop Bell is innocent or guilty. Nobody does. So you can’t just say that Carol’s allegations are wrong or false. That is an intolerable climate for the many other… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Guest

“This is exactly why we need professionals to handle this” That’s the problem – we left it to a bunch of amateurs, especially within the Church, who made a complete ‘pig’s ear’ of both (1) the process of investigation (eg no defence for Bishop Bell) and (2) the pastoral care/counselling for ‘Carol’. They tried to do both at the same time – and were allowed to do so. And they are still being allowed to do so, with the same bunch of amateurs still running the ‘safeguarding’ show. I won’t respond to your accusation that I am part of one… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Guest

‘“In the Bishop Bell ‘sexual abuse’ case, no wrong-doing whatsoever on his part has been established.” No it hasn’t. I agree. But that doesn’t justify you saying that Carol has wrongly or falsely accused him. That is my complaint, Richard. That denigrates a poor woman’. And this is one of my complaints against you, Susannah. I reject your accusation that my position “denigrates a poor woman” (ie ‘Carol’). I happen to believe she was abused as a very young girl, so she requires on-going pastoral support and deserves the compensation she was given. But I also happen to believe it… Read more »

Anthony Archer
Guest
Anthony Archer

I hesitate to comment on this, although I have sparingly in the past, and as one who was fleetingly abused (once) a long time ago (1964), I certainly know that these events are rarely if ever forgotten. The details of the room, its exact location and the colour of the curtains may fade with time, but not much else does. Crucially the identity of the abuser is also something that doesn’t fade, and if my case had come to be examined I am sure some lawyer would have played the mistaken identity card. Bell is dead, safe with his Maker.… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Guest
Rowland Wateridge

I also hesitate to comment, having repeatedly said on earlier TA threads that Carol should be left in peace and, yes, I also speak as someone who experienced abuse (fortunately of a’mild’ kind) at school now more than 60 years ago. But emphatically no, the reputations of dead people are not to be sacrificed for expediency. I’m not sure that “lawyers advised the Church to settle”. There was an ‘investigation’ by unqualified people, inconsistency in attendance at committee meetings, material not read by some members, material not even received by other members. All of this was inexcusable as there is… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Guest
Rowland Wateridge

I think I should add a PS to my contribution. I fully accept that Anthony Archer correctly remembers who abused him, and I wouldn’t want in any way to have given a different impression in concentrating solely on shortcomings of the Church’s investigation. Nor should we overlook that initially there was no response at all to Carol’s claims. She was further ill-served then.

Richard W. Symonds
Guest

In the Times article last January (25th) – “Bishop George Bell to get statue after abuse claims are dismissed” – Archbishop Welby said:

‘An earlier allegation of child abuse [ie ‘Carol’] could not be “swept under the carpet”’.

Archbishop Welby can be assured we are not “sweeping it under the carpet”.

Rev Peter Milligan
Guest
Rev Peter Milligan

Thank you, Susannah for speaking up about the double abuse of Carol. The issue of Bishop Bell has had a full hearing here and it’s time to remember Carol, and be silent.

Richard W. Symonds
Guest

Archbishop Welby is not encouraging silence regarding ‘Carol’, is he?

He is saying her allegation cannot be “swept under the carpet” – which means it cannot be ignored.

Church must therefore commission another investigation, or if they do not, someone else should … as is happening now.

Richard W. Symonds
Guest

“I have only just come across this debate and wonder if I may be allowed to comment specifically on the interchange between Susannah Clark & Richard Symonds? “I fail to understand the former’s assertion that the latter could possibly be wrong in stating as a fact that George Bell has been falsely accused. Lord Carlile in his careful & thorough Report tore Bishop Warner’s original investigation to shreds. Independent academics share Lord Carlile’s view, and the fact that Bishop Warner was taken in by ‘Carol’ is a red herring as far as Bishop Bell’s innocence is concerned. “There are explanations… Read more »