Thinking Anglicans

Titus Trust, John Smyth, and Jonathan Fletcher

The Titus Trust published this statement yesterday:

John Smyth: statement on settlement

The Trustees of The Titus Trust wish to make this statement now that a settlement has been reached with three men who have suffered for many years because of the appalling abuse of John Smyth.

We are devastated that lives have been blighted by a man who abused a position of trust and influence to inflict appalling behaviour on others, and we have written to those concerned to express our profound regret at what happened and also to apologise for any additional distress that has been caused by the way The Titus Trust has responded to this matter.
The emergence of details about the abuse by John Smyth and Jonathan Fletcher has caused us to reflect deeply on our current culture and the historic influences upon us. Although the culture of the camps that The Titus Trust runs today has changed significantly from the Scripture Union camps of the late 70s and early 80s we still want to look hard at our traditions and practices and to invite feedback from those currently involved and also those who are no longer involved.
This reflection includes a number of elements and has led, or is leading to, the following actions:

  • A full independent review of our safeguarding practices took place in 2018 by thirtyone:eight and the recommendations have been implemented in 2019 to ensure that we operate best practice across all our camps to protect the children and adults involved in our activities. Among other things, this has included receiving training in pastoral care and supporting survivors of abuse.
  • An internal Cultural Review has been carried out that considered aspects of our traditions and practices and identified risks to and ways of building healthy cultures across our leaders teams.
  • An independent Cultural Review will begin shortly which will include inviting feedback from a wide range of individuals and organisations to enable us to look honestly at our culture and its impact on individual behaviour.

The Trustees regret that we have not been able to speak out while the legal situation has been ongoing and want to take the opportunity now to listen well to people’s experiences of our camps to inform our future planning. We would therefore invite anyone who would like to share their experience to email safeguarding@titustrust.org.  If anyone wishes to contribute to the forthcoming Cultural Review, we invite them to be in touch too, so we can pass their details to the review team once their work gets underway.

We are sorry that the Titus Trust’s earlier public statements were inadequate as explanations of the relevant facts and history and that some of the language the Trust has used in public statements about these matters has prompted anger on the part of some survivors and others. We recognise the impact that this guarded use of language has caused, and apologise if this has contributed in any way to the anguish experienced by the survivors and their families.

The Titus Trust is co-operating fully with the Review into John Smyth led by Keith Makin. Extensive documentation has been provided to the Reviewers and the Trust has met with them and expects to do so again to further assist in the Review.
3/4/20

Today, the following statement has been issued in response:

Statement from victims of the Titus Trust and John Smyth QC
4th April 2020

We call for the Titus Trust to cease its activities immediately, and to disband.

Yesterday the Titus Trust issued a statement following the settlement of three civil claims in respect of abuse by John Smyth QC. The statement comes no less than eight years after a victim of Smyth bravely came forward to inform the trust of the appalling legacy of abuse upon which their organisation is built. It is an astonishing 38 years since the leaders of the Iwerne network were first made aware of the criminal nature of this horrific abuse.

When the abuse came to light, the trustees of the Titus Trust, who now run the Iwerne network, did everything they could to protect their own interests. They did not offer care and support to the victims. They refused to cooperate with an independent inquiry. If the Titus Trust had been open and transparent with what they knew years ago, John Smyth could have been brought to justice. Instead they repeatedly blanked the victims, refusing to speak with us and denying any responsibility. Perhaps we should not have expected them to act with care or candour, since some of most senior members of the network had been complicit in concealing the abuse for 38 years.

In the face of this intransigence we felt compelled to take action against the Titus Trust, so that they would be forced to confront their responsibilities. Even so, the trust has spent eye-watering sums of money fighting our claims – many times the amount they have offered us in settlement.  We are pleased that they have finally issued a limited apology for their recent behaviour, but we note that none of those responsible has resigned. They have not acknowledged the historic cover-up. There is no evidence that the culture of moral superiority, exclusivity and secrecy that has pervaded the network for decades has changed in any way.

Those of us who suffered as victims of John Smyth through our contacts with the Iwerne network simply want to uncover the truth. We want an accurate narrative of the abuse and its cover-up, not just for our own sakes, but for the sake of scores of victims of Smyth in Africa, and for the sake of those young people who even today come under the toxic influence of this network. John Smyth is only one of several abusers known to us who have been closely associated with the Iwerne camps network over many years. Events of recent years lead us to believe that there are still some within the Titus network who value their own reputations more than they care about the children they work with. Shockingly, some of those are ordained clergy in the Church of England. Such attitudes should have no place in any organisation working with children.

The Titus Trust has consistently said that they were not prepared to take part in the Church of England’s Makin Review into John Smyth whilst litigation was outstanding. Now that this settlement has been reached, that excuse is gone, and we urge the trustees and all those involved in the Iwerne network to cooperate fully with the Makin Review, and the other reviews being held into abuse by John Smyth and Jonathan Fletcher.

A culture that has resisted reform in the face of overwhelming evidence of damage over many years is beyond reform. It is our wholehearted belief that in the light of these events the Titus Trust and its work should cease immediately.

To those within and beyond the Titus/Iwerne network who have come to understand that they too are victims of abuse, we urge you to take courage and seek help outside the network.

Issued on behalf of victims of the Titus Trust and John Smyth QC
For more information, contact Andrew Graystone
07772 710090
andrew.graystone1@btinternet.com

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Fr. Dean Henley
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Fr. Dean Henley

This week’s Private Eye details the dreadful treatment meted out to sub-postmasters by the Post Office and how the organisation (led by an Anglican priest for much of the duration of the debacle) spent tens of millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money trying to thwart the claimants in the courts; losing spectacularly with an excoriating judgement. Here the Titus Trust have tried to deny Smyth’s victims justice and it seems some of the trustees are Anglican clerics. Their hubris is breathtaking and I hope that they are considering their position. Why does the Titus Trust only ‘help’ privately educated children… Read more »

David
Guest
David

In answer to your last question, I might ask why does AIM only work in Africa or OMF in the Far East? Back in the 1930’s Eric ‘Bash’ Nash felt the call of God, and that his mission field should be the Public Schools (i.e. independent schools) of England. Such Christianity as occurred in the schools’ chapels was pretty nominial and hardly Gospel centered. The camps were based at Claysmore School in Iwerne Minster in Dorset, hence the ‘Iwerne Camps’ and ‘Iwerne Trust’. The work grew, and after WW2 other camps in were set up to form a family, with… Read more »

john Wallace
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john Wallace

Thanks, David. At Cambridge in the mid 60s I heard about ‘Bash camps’. My minor public shool was too unworthy of inclusion. Those attendees whom I knew seemed normal for evangelicals at that time. Obviously some good, but as in everything, evil interposes. Article XXVI in the 39 Articles deals with this. Babies and bathwater and I am not an evangelical apologist!

Kate
Guest
Kate

“Against that, the aim of the camps was not social reform but that boys at these schools should become disciples of Jesus.”

I think many of us would question whether it is possible to be a disciple of Jesus and not seek social reform.

John S
Guest
John S

“Against that, the aim of the camps was not social reform but that boys at these schools should become disciples of Jesus.” I think part of the problem is that it’s not just that the camps didn’t aim for social reform, it’s that they implicitly aimed actively to preserve or reinforce existing social power structures and hierarchies. Some of us find that difficult to reconcile with our understanding of the Gospel. But that’s an issue for another day. Of relevance here is the way in which that very clear mission of operating within power hierarchies affected the culture of the… Read more »

Fr. Dean Henley
Guest
Fr. Dean Henley

David, was there a similar programme for girls at Roedean, St Mary’s Ascot and Cheltenham Ladies College? The subject intrigues me as I’d not thought that these elite schools were godless places. Also why were the minor schools not included, were the children of doctors and provincial solicitors considered to be already ‘saved’ or of no consequence?

Gillian
Guest
Gillian

Both were catered for: there was a girls’ equivalent of Iwerne, run by Mary Mullins (wife of a Iwerne Officer) using a succession of girls’ boarding schools during the summer break. The emphasis was on conversion to evangelical Christianity resulting in suitable wives for Iwerne Officers, be they clergy or teachers (the latter often at the schools they had themselves been to). There was no cruelty, indeed a lot of kindness and concern, but a fairly powerful steering of us towards goals seen worthy in their sight. Thus some went into fields they didn’t exactly flourish in, or didn’t get… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

It seems that most organisations which have harboured abusers in the past believe that they have changed so that any abuse is quickly detected and efficiently dealt with.

I wonder whether that is really the case because in strongly hierarchical organisations it is still hard for people to come forward and there is still a strong self-defence mechanism.

peterpi -- Peter Gross
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peterpi -- Peter Gross

For some years, I have believed that businesses, institutions, and other large social organizations, and governing unites from tribes to countries, are simply human beings writ on a large scale.
Just as some people can get defensive, or lash back, or deny, deflect, lash out, so do our larger institutions.
And regardless of what level we think God blesses our religious institutions, they are ultimately run by people, and have the same free will people have.
I fully agree with you about hierarchical institutions — and inertia, “We have always handled it this way, we’ve done it this way for decades/centuries/millennia!”

Richard W.
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Richard W.

Looks to me like this official public apology from Titus Trust is a classic case of ‘burying bad news’ while the thinking populace is being distracted by the Virus crisis – except the victims.

I can’t say I’m surprised – damage limitation. The Church of England hierarchy [+ Archbishop Welby] may well be considering the same kind of apology regarding Bishop George Bell.

Jeremy Pemberton
Guest
Jeremy Pemberton

I have to admit that your reaction about burying bad news was my first thought. I think the response of the Titus Trust is utterly inadequate, and they have still not really faced the damage done by the way they let these abusers function in the way they did for decades. I went to Iwerne twice. But I was a poor fit in many ways and slipped away from that kind of evangelicalism. As a young man who was desperate not to face his homosexuality the intensely homosocial atmosphere of the camps was both alluring and yet very threatening. Especially… Read more »

Martin Sewell
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Martin Sewell

Spiritual abuse is difficult but I think a useful analytical tool

I am mindful of the victims who spoke of being triggered when certain passages were read in church taking him back to his abusers persuasions. His faith has been abused with lengthy sequelae

Anthony Archer
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Anthony Archer

Thank you Jeremy. This is a wholly inadequate statement by the trustees of Titus Trust. If they think they have closed the file through a settlement with three survivors of abuse (the Ruston Report cites 22 victims, of which 13 had been spoken with at that point in time), they must be naive in the extreme. Others may now come forward. The 2019 accounts of the Trust won’t be filed until 31 July at the latest. They will be very revealing. The Makin review continues and it is to be hoped that the trustees will cooperate fully with it, as… Read more »

Richard W.
Guest
Richard W.

The Church of England hierarchy would be well advised to familiarise itself with the unanimous decision of seven High Court judges of the Australian Court of Appeal to quash the conviction of Cardinal George Pell. The jury, “acting rationally on the whole of the evidence, ought to have entertained a doubt as to the applicant’s guilt with respect to each of the offences for which he was convicted”. There was “a significant possibility that an innocent person has been convicted because the evidence did not establish guilt to the requisite standard of proof”. In the case of the character assassination… Read more »

Judith Maltby
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Judith Maltby

According to the Titus Trust statement, two reviews are now finished, an external independent one in 2018/19 by thirtyone:eight and an internal cultural review has also been conducted and completed. An independent cultural review will start shortly but I can’t spot who is leading that in this statement by the Titus Trust. Does anyone know: a) if the 2018/19 independent review conducted by thirtyone:eight is public? I can’t seem to find it. b) has the internal cultural review now completed been published? c) are terms of reference for all these reviews available? The review by Dame Moira Gibb into the… Read more »

Andrew Graystone
Guest
Andrew Graystone

Judith, I’m afraid that the answer to your three questions is ‘no.’

Judith Maltby
Guest
Judith Maltby

Thank you, Andrew. I’m not an expert in these matters as you are, however, I would have thought the point of an ‘independent’ review would be to strengthen the accountability and transparency of the organisation being reviewed, is it not? Not to publish the independent report, not to publish its terms of reference, not to publish its recommendations is very poor, unaccountable and lacking in transparency. What possible trust is anyone supposed to place in these reviews if they are confidential to the very group under review? Again, the Gibb report on Ball seems to me to provide the standard.… Read more »

Anne Lee
Guest
Anne Lee

Thank you Judith for raising these very important issues and thank you, Andrew for your response. I am hoping (and praying) that the Titus Trust trustees will think again and put all these in the public domain, for the well-being of the victims. Quite apart from the damage that their secrecy will bring their organisation. I fear that yet again we see the confusion between confidentiality and secrecy so often seen in religious organisations.

Father Ron Smith
Guest

Interestingly, this is the very day that Cardinal Pell , in Australia, has been cleared by the High Court of charges against him regarding child abuse.

Anne
Guest
Anne

I understood from listening to the radio this morning, that Pell has been cleared on a legal technicality. Have I misunderstood? I would be very grateful for clarification.

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

Not a technicality. The court ruled that the jury did not give sufficient weight to possibility that the witnesses might be mistaken, and the prosecution did not challenge in their evidence the testimony of various people who were present at the time, which did indeed throw doubt. I don’t think the outcome is surprising: the case always seemed thin, and the evidence insufficient to bear the weight placed on it. I think Pell will be destroyed by the unredacted report of the Royal Commission, which will presumably be published now his criminal case is concluded, and that should have been… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Guest
Rowland Wateridge

Go to Law and Religion = lawandreligionuk.com for an authoritative legal explanation from Australia. Currently it is the leading article there. The final judgment of the High Court of Australia was that the facts advanced in the prosecution’s case had not been proved beyond all reasonable doubt, as they must be in any criminal trial of any defendant. That is not ‘a legal technicality‘. In saying this, I am not seeking to contradict other people’s posts here, just stating a fundamental principle of law as it applies equally in Australia and the UK.

Stanley Monkhouse
Guest

Ron, not “cleared by the High Court of charges’, but cleared by the High Court of THOSE PARTICULAR charges. As it happens, given what I know of sacristies and cathedrals, I didn’t see how he could have been guilty of those charges. I understand that others are outstanding and that there may be others.

Anne
Guest
Anne

Thank you all very much indeed for your clarification re Cardinal Pell’s acquittal and for the link to the Law & Religion article.

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

Those of us that have followed the Australian Royal Commission will know that although Pell’s utterly shameful testimony (when he was “too ill” to travel, and did it by video link) was damning, the conclusions were redacted in the final report because of this (semi-related) court case. Now Pell is an innocent man, there is no longer any reason to redact it. And the final, unredacted reports will, almost certainly, destroy his credibility. In particular, his refusal to accept his role in the Gerald Ridsdale case, and his preposterous arguments as to why he didn’t know (even though he shared… Read more »