On Friday, the Titus Trust published Documents relating to the Titus Trust’s response to John Smyth’s abuse with the following preamble:
We believe that it is vital for the truth to be made known in a case like this and that this is especially important for those who have suffered so much harm. So in the interests of seeking to be wholly transparent about the role and actions of the Trust during the period in question, and given the delay in the publication of Keith Makin’s review, we are now publishing a timeline showing when the Trust became aware of John Smyth’s actions, how much we knew and how we responded. We are also providing answers to questions and allegations that have been raised about these matters in this document. It is our prayer that this will be helpful to all who have been involved in this tragic case.
The actual documents are all contained in this pdf. There are three parts:
The Church Times carries a news report by Madeleine Davies: Titus Trust: ‘This is what we knew of John Smyth’s abuse, and when we knew it’. And also Titus Trust timeline: a digest.
The Guardian has also covered this: ‘Bleeding for Jesus’: book tells story of QC who pitilessly abused young men (scroll down for reference to Titus Trust statement)
A statement in response to Titus Trust has been issued by survivors, the full text of which is also copied below.
Statement from Trustees
We continue to reflect deeply on how we have responded to the appalling abuse that was carried out by John Smyth, both in the UK and in southern Africa. We are grateful to all those who have spoken frankly to us about how they have seen us respond, especially in light of the strong links which exist between the Iwerne Camps of the 1970s and 1980s and those camps run by the Titus Trust today.
We recognise that at times we have failed to show our concern for the victims and survivors of John Smyth’s abuse. The welfare of every victim and survivor should always have been our main priority. We can see that we could have done more, perhaps alongside independent experts, to reach out to victims and survivors and work with them in shaping our responses. In seeking properly to discharge our regulatory duties and in establishing that we did not have legal responsibility for Smyth’s abuse, we have not always displayed all the Christian love and compassion that should be expected of an organisation committed to making the Christian gospel known. We are deeply sorry for the additional pain that we caused for a number of these men and their families.
We believe that it is vital for the truth to be made known in a case like this. This is especially important for those who have suffered so much harm. We continue to believe that the best way for us to play our part in this process is through the review that the Church of England has commissioned Keith Makin to carry out. However, the publication of that review will be subject to delay and in the interests of seeking to be wholly transparent about the role and actions of the Trust during the period in question we are now publishing a timeline showing when the Trust became aware of John Smyth’s actions, how much we knew and how we responded. We are also providing answers to questions and allegations that have been raised about these matters. All of this information has been provided to Keith Makin, who has welcomed our response and confirmed that it will not impede his review. We continue to co-operate fully with him and humbly look forward to the publication of his review and to learning from his findings.
We hope that this information will show that, while we readily acknowledge that we have made mistakes, there has not been – as some have suggested – any cover-up on our part. James Stileman (our former Operations Director), other former and current staff and former trustees, and others have been significantly misrepresented through numerous untrue statements and misleading speculations.
Our timeline and our answers to questions are published alongside this statement. The timeline focuses in detail on the period from 2012 through to John Smyth’s death in August 2018. It includes a number of things that we wish we had done differently. The timeline shows that police and safeguarding authorities were involved from 2013 onwards. But we wish, for instance, that more questions had been asked within the Trust before summer 2014. For example, when, in December 2013, the then Chair of the Trust made a reference to something he ‘was dealing with’, all trustees should have insisted on knowing the nature and seriousness of the matter. We are sorry about this too.
Looking back, we wish that information about what John Smyth had done had been shared with other trustees before it was. While we recognise that such matters were often handled very differently 40 years ago, we certainly believe that Smyth’s abuse should have been reported to the authorities when it was first discovered in 1982. But once the wider body of trustees became aware of what John Smyth had done in June 2014, they acted swiftly in seeking and following the best legal advice available, including ensuring that information was reported to the relevant authorities.
We are ultimately accountable to the Lord, as well as to others, for the way that we have responded to these matters. We are grateful for the contact we have had, and continue to have, with a number of the victims and survivors of John Smyth’s abuse. We recognise that they have very different wishes and needs. We have sought to provide appropriate assistance including contributing, from March 2017, to a joint fund (with the Church of England and Scripture Union) to pay for counselling. We hope and pray that this has been of some help, but we recognise more fully now that the consequences of John Smyth’s actions have a long and ongoing impact for the victims and survivors and we will therefore be approaching those who we can reach to see whether there is any further help that we may be able to provide. We welcome any of them to be in touch with us and we are sorry that we did not do more, sooner.
“The Titus Trust timeline tells us far more than we previously knew. And it reveals a catalogue of delays and partial disclosures. Titus are keen to refute the allegations of a cover up, but any layman would describe this whole timeline as part of a cover up. Trustees and four Titus employees were told about the abuse in December 2012, but it was not reported to the whole Board until June 2014. And the police were not approached until September 2014. It is now revealed also, that the main historic record of the abuse, The Ruston Report, was not given to the police until July 2017, and the main Titus record of the abuse, the “Stileman Report” of 2014, was not handed to the police until August 2017″
“The Titus timeline covers only 2012-2017 and ignores the 30 year period when senior Iwerne camp leaders, and two Trustees of Titus Trust until 2015, had known about the abuse throughout the period. The apology does not mention the scores of African children, younger than the UK victims, who were abused. There is no apology for the failures in 1982 to stop John Smyth QC from ever working with children again”.
“Titus response hides behind their long-claimed legal distinction between Iwerne Trust and Titus Trust, when the latter took over the assets, the responsibilities, the camps and even the Trustees of Iwerne Trust. The trust hides behind legal advice to claim no responsibility, and their response from 2012-17 is devoid of Christian care and compassion.”
“Titus Trust chose to ignore the advice of their media adviser to go public in 2015. Had they done so, victims would have received support earlier, and John Smyth QC might have been brought to justice. Instead, reputation management, and concern about “The Work”, were the overriding responses”
“Titus state, with no irony, “We believe that it is vital for the full truth to be made known”. We have waited four years for an account of what they did or did not do. And it is now clear they did the absolute minimum that was required. The account to the police made no mention of the advice in Jul 2014 from their lawyers that the abuse “was likely to have been criminal”, an opinion first given in the suppressed 1982 Ruston Report”
“If Titus wish for the full truth to be made known, we ask for the legal and media advice they received in 2014/15 and the Serious Incident Report to the Charity Commission to be made public. We can then judge whether they have been truthful”.