Thinking Anglicans

Singleton report on Past Cases Review published

The Church of England has today published a report into its handling of the 2007-2009 Past Cases Review. The full text of the report can be downloaded from here.

There is a press release: Report into handling of Past Cases Review which explains the background. Sir Roger Singleton authored the report and chaired the independent scrutiny team.

…In November 2015, in his report to the Archbishops’ Council, the newly appointed National Safeguarding Adviser noted ‘growing recognition of shortcomings of PCR’; inconsistencies in the application of the House of Bishops Protocol designed to bring consistency and independence to the process, cases of abuse coming to light that should have been identified in the PCR and survivors not being engaged in the process.

Following an initial screening process by the National Safeguarding Team, Sir Roger Singleton was asked to independently review the adequacy of the Past Cases Review and makes recommendations to the Church of England.

The report sets out the findings of this independent scrutiny and makes nine recommendations. These have been accepted by both the Archbishops’ Council and House of Bishops, and action is now being taken to address both the shortcomings of the original PCR and to instigate a further review known cases and new appointments made since 2007.

Today’s report will be sent to the Independent Inquiry for Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) to which Sir Roger Singleton gave evidence during the Chichester Case Study public hearing in March of this year…

The BBC had a report about this earlier, Church of England ‘s 2010 abuse inquiry was ‘flawed’ and ‘failed‘, which currently notes that the report is not due to be published until next month. There were items on the Radio 4 Today programme about this too, including an interview with Sir Roger Singleton.

There has also been a Press Association report published at Care AppointmentsInquiry into Church of England historic sexual abuse was ‘botched’.

…The PCR looked at more than 40,000 case files relating to allegations of abuse dating as far back as the 1950s and concluded that just 13 cases of alleged child sexual abuse needed formal action.

After survivors complained that the report was inadequate, Sir Roger was commissioned to carry out an independent review of how it was conducted.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that it was “botched in three ways”.

“The survey wasn’t completely comprehensive,” he said. “It didn’t include some cathedrals, it didn’t include employees working with children in some parishes.

“The attempts really to make the survey absolutely complete were flawed.

“In the public statement that it issued reporting on the review, (the Church) rather failed to give a comprehensive picture of the concerns that existed.

“It narrowed down the definitions of who had actually been responsible for abuse by limiting it to just new cases and cases where the Church took formal action. This had the impact of reducing the numbers from probably nearer 100 to just two which appeared in the public statements.”

Asked whether he found that Church officials were concerned to avoid reputational damage, Sir Roger said: “I think that is one of the factors that led those who prepared the press statement to emphasise the positive points for the Church and rather to downplay the negative aspects.”

He said it appeared “extraordinary” that some survivors were denied the chance to give evidence.

“There is no doubt that some victims and survivors came forward and offered to meet with the reviewers carrying out this work and that offer was refused,” he said.

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JeremyRichard W. SymondsJanet FifeInterested ObserverDavid Lamming Recent comment authors
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Dan Barnes-Davies
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To no one’s surprise at all, CofE central is both massively over-managerialised but also at the same time completely incompetent at it. Bravo.

David Runcorn
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David Runcorn

That we are needing these reviews at all is a matter of deep shame. But I find nothing in this report to justify your sweeping comments here. Indeed it is careful to commend the good faith and integrity where it finds it and too acknowledge the sheer scale of the task involved.

Ian Hobbs
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Ian Hobbs

That’s not the conclusion of the report.

Interested Observer
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Interested Observer

This report has led me to pass my lunchtime re-reading the Gibb report into the activities of Peter Ball. As with the cases that I am sure will be found in the sewage of this review, I am left with one great mystery: Peter Ball was quite clearly a bad man, which even if the evidence was not at the time sufficient to ensure a successful prosecution was certainly enough to get over the civil “balance of probabilities” test. Why, instead of engaging in endless to-ing and fro-ing was he simply not sacked: excluded completely from any involvement in the… Read more »

Bernard
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Bernard

In principle you are absolutely right. But because stipendiary clergy aren’t employed, any case couldn’t have gone near an employment tribunal. To point this out isn’t intended as nit-picking; the way that so many aspects of clergy life differ from that of other “professions”, not to mention the population as a whole, is something that may well have contributed to the climate in which these terrible things take place.

Laurence Cunnington
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Laurence Cunnington

One of the points that *was* found in Jeremy Pemberton’s favour in his Employment Tribunal and was subsequently upheld by both the Employment Appeal Tribunal and the Court of Appeal (which are courts of record) is that Diocesan Bishops are ‘qualification bodies’ for the purposes of the Equality Act and that cases brought by Church of England clergy in respect of questions relating to their licensing *can* be heard by an Employment Tribunal. This principle is now enshrined in case law.

Bernard
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Bernard

Thanks for correcting me.

Olivia
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Olivia

Indeed, but the Pemberton case happened a long while after Peter Ball and after the Past Cases Review of 2009. For the relevant period Bernard’s point stands.

Richard W. Symonds
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Richard W. Symonds

“Case law”, as I read it (but I might be wrong), seems to define the clergy – and bishops – as “quasi-employees” “JGE v The Portsmouth Roman Catholic Diocesan Trust [2012] EWCA Civ 938. The Court of Appeal held that a bishop could be held liable for wrongdoings (sexual abuse) by priests in his diocese. It was a landmark case with potentially wide-reaching consequences extending to other organisations where quasi-employees commit wrongdoings for which their ‘employers’ can now be held liable” What is deeply disturbing in the Bishop Bell case is that an Archbishop – ++Welby – can say anything… Read more »

Interested Observer
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Interested Observer

If we’re discussing legal options, let’s stick to the law. It’s clearly not libellous to say “significant cloud”, or anything else, about Bell, because he is dead. Welby is not putting himself above the law, because there is no relevant law in respect of the reputation of dead people. You may not like that. I may not like that. But it is pointless to say someone is putting themselves above the law when there is no law, or to say their speech is libellous (or even arguably libellous) when there is no possible libel action. Were Bell alive, Welby’s position… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
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Richard W. Symonds

The legal options are limited in the case of the now-dead Bishop Bell, which is to the legal advantage of the Church lawyers and the disadvantage of Lord Carlile QC and Desmond Browne QC who seek – among many others – to bring this injustice against Bishop Bell to an end. Put plainly, if Bell was alive he would be able to take legal action for defamation and libel against Archbishop Welby for his monstrous “significant cloud” remark. But because he is dead, he can’t take such legal action – and no-one can take legal action on his behalf. This… Read more »

Interested Observer
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Interested Observer

“Put plainly, if Bell was alive he would be able to take legal action for defamation and libel against Archbishop Welby for his monstrous “significant cloud” remark” 1Henry4, III.1: GLENDOWER: I can call spirits from the vasty deep. HOTSPUR: Why, so can I, or so can any man; But will they come when you do call for them? Anyone living can commence a libel action against anyone else living. Winning it is another matter. The threshold for libel is now high and the defences available are wide-ranging and flexible. Since the Defamation Act 2013 high profile libel actions have effectively… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
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Richard W. Symonds

Quotes from T.S. Eliot’s “Murder in the Cathedral” might be more appropriate than Shakespeare, but that aside…

I don’t think Bishop Bell, if alive, would have had any inclination whatsoever in taking his Archbishop to court for libel or defamation.

But the Bishop would have respected the findings of Lord Carlile QC…something which the present Archbishop clearly does not.

Interested Observer
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Interested Observer

Employment Tribunals are much more favourable to the employee than the other option of a straightforward civil action for breach of contract. That priests are now deemed eligible to use an ET is a good thing: it improves the position of the priest and weakens the position of the church. That said, if you are correct (I have no reason to doubt you) that at the time of the Peter Ball case priests were held to not be eligible to use ETs, that strengthens my point: the church could simply have dismissed him (as in removed his salary, permission to… Read more »

Janet Fife
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Janet Fife

We will soon know more about this, as IICSA is spending a week looking into this case. Prince Charles (a friend of Ball’s) has been asked to give a statement. Which tells us how deeply entrenched into the Establishment Ball was, and gives some idea of the pressures and influences which may have brought to bear on Carey and other Church leaders. I knew Ball, and he had the most extraordinary personal magnetism. He was also highly manipulative, as the evidence we’ve already heard makes clear. So while it’s a tragedy that he wasn’t stopped, and we certainly need to… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
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Richard W. Symonds

The IICSA hearings have already given a clear insight into “how it all happened” regarding Bishop Peter Ball, which makes Archbishop Welby’s “significant cloud” remark against Bishop George Bell all the more astonishing.

Richard W. Symonds
Guest
Richard W. Symonds

Talking of the IICSA, it might be worth repeating what Fiona Scolding QC said on the first day of the hearings: Page 129 -Paras. 2-19 – Fiona Scolding QC: “…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 the General Synod and a retired child protection lawyer. He points out that diocesan staff are typically trained in theology and Canon law, not in safeguarding or child protection law. As a result, he says, many of those making a… Read more »

David Rowett
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David Rowett

“In one of these cases the Bishop refused to co-operate and no IR was appointed”

Me, I’m just astonished that a diocesan should have chosen not to participate properly in the PCR process…..

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

It doesn’t really matter. Some bishops refused to investigate abuse. Others, including Archbishops Carey and Williams, refused point blank to take such investigations seriously and dissembled and distracted until the problem went away. Or, at least, went away for a while. The effect was the same: whether by passive inaction or active collaboration, abusers were able to continue to abuse because bishops did not think it mattered. So far as it is possible to tell, no bishops behaved well. The fall-out will continue for a generation: the long term consequences can be observed in Ireland, where the catholic church is… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Guest
Richard W. Symonds

“The long term consequences” are much more clearly seen in the US Catholic Church (Boston) – highlighted in the ‘Spotlight’ film. There is a plethora of US books and research studies which can be read on the subject – which almost parallels what is happening now in the Church of England. So if we want to know what will happen here in the UK, look to what happened in the US.

Richard W. Symonds
Guest
Richard W. Symonds

It seems beyond outrageous the Church of England hierarchy can dictate, control and manipulate an agenda in such a way that the Bishop Bell issue – and others like it – can be kept off the agenda.

PaulWaddington
Guest
PaulWaddington

Maybe it is because it is the Established Church, that many within it think it is above and beyond the laws of the country.

David Lamming
Guest
David Lamming

It is interesting to note (according to the BBC report) that the Singleton report was not due to be published until ‘next month’ – from which one might reasonably infer that this was to be after the General Synod meeting in York (6-10 July) and thus after the safeguarding debate at the Synod timetabled for the Saturday morning, 7 July 2018. Yet we see from para 18 of another of the Synod papers issued yesterday, 22nd June, GS Misc 1191 ‘Report on Archbishops’ Council’s activities’, that the Council “considered recommendations from the independent scrutiny report of the Past Cases Review… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Guest
Richard W. Symonds

“Transparency”… when it suits us, regardless of the law?

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

Following on the Symonds comment about the Scolding reference to Sewell….
Does the Church of England _never_ require any complainant or plaintiff to maintain confidentiality, as a condition of the Church of England making a payment to settle a litigation of any kind?
Or does the Church of England insist, at the same time, on confidentiality in some types of cases, and on very public “clouds” in others?
Might we wonder whether the Church and its current officials get confidentiality, whereas intended scapegoats do not?