Thinking Anglicans

Titus Trust publishes a timeline about John Smyth

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:

  • Statement from Titus Trust Trustees (full text copied below the fold)
  • Timeline of matters relating to the Titus Trust’s response to John Smyth’s abuse (this is very long and detailed)
  • FAQs

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.

Survivors Statement

“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”.

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Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
1 month ago

The former Headmaster of Winchester College John Thorn published his autobiography “The Road to Winchester” in February 1989. He there gives an account of how abuse by John Smyth came to his knowledge, and how the matter was dealt with, concluding with the words “He left the Winchester district and then the United Kingdom. He departed for Africa with his family and, by me, has not been heard of since”. I have little doubt that Keith Makin is fully aware of these facts. But for anyone who read Mr Thorn’s book at the time, the essential facts of the abuse which occurred… Read more »

Andy Morse
Andy Morse
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
1 month ago

You are absolutely right, Rowland, in your account. However, John Thorn is a principle architect of the cover-up in 1982 as I think will become clearer when ‘Bleeding For Jesus’ and the Winchester College Smyth Review are published. I am a Smyth victim and a Winchester College student, I have first hand knowledge of how Thorn covered up matters of abuse during my time at the school and did everything in his power to protect his and the school’s reputation over the needs of victims. In the case of Smyth, Thorn cobbled together a truly horrendous NIMBY solution and then… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Andy Morse
1 month ago

As I have said further down this page, I cannot contribute any more to this subject. I have tried to make impartial and factual statements, partly based on local and personal knowledge. I once met Smyth in a courtroom scenario and formed the opinion then of him as a haughty, but competent lawyer. That he was a serial abuser would not have entered my head. As I have said so often on TA, we will have to see what Keith Makin’s long-awaited report will reveal. I have always felt that a relevant fact was Smyth’s rejection for ordination by the… Read more »

Mother Hubbard
Mother Hubbard
Reply to  Andy Morse
1 month ago

Thank you for your powerful witness in this evil affair. As you say, in-house reviews and autobiographies are almost always self-serving, particularly those of the very wealthy, powerful and highly regarded – be they institutions or individuals. Not only do they mark their own homework, but they write their own epitaphs.
How long O Lord.

Interested Observer
Interested Observer
1 month ago

“We didn’t cover anything up”, writes an organisation that then provides a 26 page chronology of a coverup. Several trustees knew precisely what had happened and kept quiet about it, and that one of them was the brother of another serial abuser cannot be ignored. To be connected to one sexual abuse scandal about which you said nothing can be considered a misfortune, but two starts to look like carelessness. One striking omission is any explanation as to why, in fact, the Iwerne Trust felt the need to wind itself up in 1997. It transferred its assets to another legal… Read more »

Fr Dexter Bracey
Fr Dexter Bracey
1 month ago

Two questions strike me. Is the Titus Trust the legal successor of the Iwerne Trust? My assumption would be that it was constituted as such in order to receive the assets of the former body. But if it is, then presumably it would also inherit any liabilities associated with Iwerne. That may explain why, despite the “long-claimed legal distinction between Iwerne Trust and Titus Trust”, the latter feels the need to be seen to be making some amends now. The Titus Trust manages to give the impression that it both denies any responsibility for Iwerne’s failings and that it wants… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Fr Dexter Bracey
1 month ago

I’m not competent to discuss transfer of liabilities in this context, but the Titus Trust is the successor to the Iwerne Trust which is recorded as such by the Charity Commission as “previous name”. The Charity registered number is 1066751. The Trust is also incorporated as Charitable Company number 03473789. A Charity Commission search (very easily done on line) will largely answer your other questions. The charitable objects of the Trust refer to the Christian Faith; the Church of England is not mentioned in this context. The nine trustees are identified, and the Charity’s accounts are published. The trustees do… Read more »

Jonathan Jamal
Jonathan Jamal
1 month ago

What the Titus Trust omits to mention, in these documents we have all now been able to read online, is that within the same week or so that Channel 4 reported on the John Smyth Abuse, a past member of Smyth’s Circle, the Bishop of Guildford, Bishop Andrew Watson came out and admitted he had been a Victim of John Smyth and had been beaten by him in the Garden Shed of his home, and that the Bishop had reported to this to Hampshire Police. Jonathan

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Jonathan Jamal
1 month ago

Jonathan: The Bishop of Guildford was one of many victims. His case is of no special significance except, I suppose, that he subsequently obtained high office in the Church.

Mother Hubbard
Mother Hubbard
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
1 month ago

Andrew Watson’s “going public” in Feb 2017 is significant for two reasons other than obtaining high office: He was at that time the only senior cleric, moreover a Diocesan Bishop of the Evangelical tradition that grew out of the camps, who has “gone public”. There must be others of this generation of clerical and even Bishop survivor/ victims who still have not done so. Moreover, he reported it to the police, not in a book or the press. Titus Trust turned over the Ruston Report to the police only in July of 2017, and the main record, the Stileman report… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Mother Hubbard
1 month ago

The cat was out of the bag in 1989, but people didn’t pick it up. The only possible explanation I can think of is in my post to Jonathan below.

jon
jon
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
1 month ago

I agree the book was published in 1989 but did many people read it? – nor was it a Christian book. It doesn’t strike me as a best seller. Nowadays anyone can use twitter to report to millions and that generally works better to amplify the voices of the less powerful.

Last edited 1 month ago by jon
Mother Hubbard
Mother Hubbard
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
1 month ago

With the police and CPS?

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Jonathan Jamal
1 month ago

Do you mean that the then young Andrew Watson reported the abuse to the police at the time; or that he reported to the police at some later date; or that some other bishop reported to the police at some time or other?

David Exham
David Exham
Reply to  Janet Fife
1 month ago

Andrew Watson, bishop of Guildford, claimed in February 2017, that as a boy he had received a single, violent beating from John Smith. He said that had informed the Hampshire police “at the weekend” presumably a few days before.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Janet Fife
1 month ago

Janet: There was more than one report to Hampshire Constabulary, certainly one by Winchester College, but I don’t have the chronology readily to hand. Far more mystifying (to me) are the allusions to JS abuse being reported to Chichester Police; possibly a mis-type of Winchester, but it occurs more than once in the long history, and I don’t have time today to find the dates. All this will, I am sure, be unravelled when the Makin report is published.

Jonathan Jamal
Jonathan Jamal
Reply to  Janet Fife
1 month ago

Janet,
I can only assume that Bishop Andrew reported the Abuse when Channel 4 and Cathy Newman brought the whole John Smyth Saga into the public domain and may be holding office as Diocesan Bishop, may be impressed on him very strongly a duty to report this to the Police, in the light of his own involvement as a Victim in this awful saga. Jonathan

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Jonathan Jamal
1 month ago

Jonathan: To anyone who read John Thorn’s book mentioned in my original post, the facts of the abuse at Winchester were potentially public knowledge in 1989! That there was seemingly no response or outcry at the time is an anomaly which seems to have escaped everyone’s attention in all the debate.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Jonathan Jamal
1 month ago

The only possible explanation I can think of for the lack of response in 1989 is that Smyth had been shipped off to Africa and was no longer seen as requiring any further action. As we now know, that has proved to be disastrously wrong. But it it is Keith Makin’s job, not ours, to evaluate actions, and he has been specifically instructed to do so by the accepted norms of the time and not by applying current standards. The C of E has set him a daunting task..

Fr Dean
Fr Dean
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
1 month ago

Rowland moving the abuser just moves on the abuse too. He was stopped from abusing anymore English public school boys, but there is evidence that he continued his vile activities in South Africa. I would suggest that the homoerotic aspect in his activities indicates Smyth’s internalised homophobia. This doesn’t in any way mitigate his abuse but it ought to give food for thought to those who still peddle the CofE’s twaddle about gay sex. Doing so costs children’s trust and in some cases their lives.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Fr Dean
1 month ago

I don’t think I can really add any more. I have read material referring to Smyth’s medical condition, and further information about the circumstances of his move to Africa. No one is named in these.

Last edited 1 month ago by Rowland Wateridge
David Lamming
David Lamming
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
1 month ago

A report in The Guardian on 2 February 2017* (“Public school defends role in alleged coverup of abuse at Christian Camps”) revealed that “Winchester College knew in 1982 about the allegations of sadomasochistic abuse at the hands of John Smyth, a British QC…” and refers to the Ruston report: “A secret report into the physical abuse was carried out by the Iwerne Trust, which ran the camps for public schoolboys, in 1982.” The Guardian report adds: “Winchester College said no report was made to the police at the time, not least because parents of the victims felt their sons should… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Janet Fife
1 month ago

I should have added, and you may know already, that Bishop Andrew Watson was educated at Winchester College. There is much more detail in John Thorn’s book about how matters were dealt with at the time when the facts emerged.

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