Thinking Anglicans

Titus Trust: some updates

On 4 April, we reported on the connections between the Titus Trust, John Smyth, and Jonathan Fletcher.

Today, a further statement has been issued on behalf of survivors:

There has been some confusion about the statement published by Titus Trust on 3rd April 2020 responding to the settlement of claims by three victims of John Smyth. I hope these facts will clarify the situation.

The settlement
John Smyth’s known victims currently number in excess of 110. The Titus Trust has settled with just three of them. The three men initiated a civil action because, after several years of being blanked and ignored by the trust, they felt that this was the only way to force the trust to confront its responsibilities.

In response, the Titus Trust has spent well in excess of £100,000 in legal fees defending the civil claim. This is many times the amount that the claimants will receive in settlement. In addition, the trust has retained one of the most expensive secular Public Relations consultancies in the UK to manage their profile. The Titus Trust had an income of £1,934,000 last year, of which £1,078,000 was donations.

The statement
The three claimants were given no prior sight of the statement, which was released by the Titus Trust without warning on a Friday evening, 3rd April 2020.

The Titus Trust statement, and the settlement itself, contains no admission of liability or involvement in Smyth’s abuse, no reference to the involvement of key members of the Iwerne network in arranging Smyth’s removal to Africa, no acknowledgement of his continuing abuse there over three decades, and no reference to the covering-up of Smyth’s abuse since it was disclosed in 1982. Indeed, the settlement repeats several times their assertion that the Titus Trust was not and is not responsible in any way for Smyth’s abuse. This is in spite of the fact that there is a significant continuity in activities, personnel and culture between Titus Trust and its predecessor. In terms of apology, all that the statement says is, “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.” They are sorry for their language.

The Titus Trust continues to maintain that the Iwerne camps network was the responsibility of the Scripture Union.

Reviews and inquiries
The Titus statement describes three “actions” that they say that have taken, or are taking, in response to the revelations of abuse by John Smyth.

i)    A full independent review of safeguarding practices
A review was conducted in 2018 by the reputable independent safeguarding consultancy thirtyone:eight. It examined safeguarding on camps and activities currently run by the trust. Titus Trust has not published this review. The trust is within its rights to keep such a review confidential, though in the circumstances it might have helped public confidence if it had been published.

Their statement of April 2020 says that “among other things, [the review] has included receiving training in pastoral care and supporting survivors of abuse.” It is not clear what this means, since I am not aware that any survivor of abuse has received any pastoral care or support from the trust. The three men who brought the civil action against Titus Trust have received no contact from the trust at all since the abuse became public knowledge.

ii)    An internal Cultural Review
The statement says that “an internal Cultural Review has been carried out that considered aspects of our traditions and practices.” No information about this review has been published. This review was not conducted by thirtyone:eight. It is not clear what aspects of culture this review covered, who conducted it, what was concluded, or what if anything has changed.

iii)    An independent Cultural review
The statement says that “an independent Cultural Review will begin shortly” that will “enable us to look honestly at our culture and its impact on individual behaviour.” This review has not yet taken place, and no information about it has been published. It is not clear what it will cover, what form it will take, who will conduct it, when it will take place, or whether it will be published.

The statement also makes reference to “the Review into John Smyth led by Keith Makin.” This review was announced by the Church of England in August 2018, commissioned in August 2018 and begun in October 2019. The Makin Review was originally due to be completed by April 2020, but this was put back to June 2020. The current best estimate is that it may be complete by early Summer 2021.

The Makin Review is one of three inquiries currently being conducted into the abuse by John Smyth. Clearly the existence of three separate reviews is far from ideal, and causes additional suffering to the victims. It became necessary to conduct separate reviews because The Titus Trust refused to cooperate with one overall review when it was first proposed, insisting that they had no connection with John Smyth. Smyth was the chair of the Iwerne Trust, which was the predecessor of the Titus Trust.

More recently the Titus Trust has agreed to cooperate with the Makin inquiry, the civil claimants having made that a condition of the settlement of their claim. We cannot yet know what the extent of that cooperation will be. The Titus Trust is not conducting its own review into the activities of John Smyth.

In addition to the well-publicised abuse by John Smyth, there have been at least four other corroborated instances of abuse against boys and young men by members of the Iwerne network. Others are under investigation.

Victims of John Smyth continue to believe that the Titus Trust should close.

Andrew Graystone
April 2020

Also, this recent article, by Matthew Mason, may have some bearing on the matter: Where Did the Holy Spirit Go?

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Susannah Clark
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Conservative evangelical Christians are part of the patchwork quilt of our diverse Church community, walking with God and the Holy Spirit, and I value their presence, even though I don’t agree with all their opinions. I have certainly been helped by Christians in this tradition (not least, Dick Lucas), I have known their love and kindness, and I’m not comfortable with Matthew’s list of condemnations I’m afraid. I think it is presumptuous if any of us suggest that other Christians don’t have access to the Holy Spirit, as they walk with God, and devote their lives to God. Bad people… Read more »

Tony Bellows
Guest

I assume the posting of Matthew’s list has at least the hint of a suggestion that Conservative Evangelicals theological positions lead them towards the kind of corruption we see with John Smyth. It’s a game which can be played many ways… Celibate priests may be more likely to indulge in child abuse, for example. What is the case is really far simpler: as C.S. Lewis reminded us repeatedly, was that in every organisation or individual there will be found the corrupting influence of sin, and the nobler and higher the ideals, the greater it can fall. That is why we… Read more »

James
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James

I’m not really sure what the point of legal action is against a completely different trustee body, all these years later. The vindication/recognition that the victims seek will be a (very sadly) hollow one. I wish it were otherwise. Perhaps the trust should close, and open up under another name and entity tomorrow? That would draw a line under this supposed culpability by current trustees, which I don’t really see. Whilst I don’t agree with the trustees theologically, they are just fulfilling their current fiduciary responsibilities. I’m not sure what they can really do? It’s painful for the victims, but… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Guest
Rowland Wateridge

I share your concerns, without being able to suggest any appropriate way forward. There are extremely complex legal issues. But, I think it is asking a lot to expect people who are seriously damaged by bad things which have happened in life “to deal with them, and find a way to move on”. Experience, both personal, and from dealing with cases involving people abused in childhood, shows that doesn’t happen very often – or very rarely. Keith Makin was instructed by the Church of England to report on the Church’s response, and, in doing so, to consult the Titus Trust,… Read more »

Interested Observer
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Interested Observer

The problem is that people who have been the victims of traumatic crime, or who have lost relatives in tragic circumstances, or indeed pretty much any traumatic event, are rarely going to get what they want. Whether they receive money, or see the perpetrators punished, or see society change for the better to protect others, the only thing that can truly expunge their pain is to make it such that the bad event never happened, and absent a time machine that is not possible. You can compensate financial losses because currency is fungible, although even then the reason courts impose… Read more »

Andrew Graystone
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Andrew Graystone

As the statement above makes clear, the victims who initiated the civil action against Titus Trust were not seeking vindication, retribution or comfort. Nor were they seeking financial gain. What they were seeking to do was to get Titus Trust to take part in an inquiry (which they had previously refused to do) and to release the information they hold, including the archive of the Iwerne Trust. The action has had the effect of making the trust address the issue, which they had previously refused to do.

Kate
Guest
Kate

I think that Thinking Anglicans is helpful in giving important statements like this a much wider circulation than they might otherwise receive

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

The Titus Trust appear to be assuming (a) that they have friends with sufficient influence and fear of exposure to keep the Charity Commission at bay (b) that the ABC is sufficiently conflicted he will not criticise them whatever they say or do and (c) that in the eyes of the general public and the IICSA, orphans and pregnant working class girls are a great deal more sympathetic than public schoolboys from rich families. Sadly, they are probably right. If you’re powerful and from that privileged social circle then you are immune from criticism, but if you are powerless and… Read more »

Richard W.
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Richard W.

The moral bankruptcy of the controlling hierarchy within Titus Trust equally applies to the moral bankruptcy of the controlling hierarchy within the Church of England. And if things get out-of-control internally, contract-out the problem externally to corporate PR agencies practised in the art of propaganda – then spin accordingly.

Jeremy
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Jeremy

The money quote in the Archbishop’s statement is this: “John Smyth was one of the main leaders at the camp and although the Archbishop worked with him, he was not part of the inner circle of friends; no one discussed allegations of abuse by John Smyth with him.”
There is much in that statement that may be inferred from silences.
For example, I do not see in his statement a clear answer to the question of whether the Archbishop knew, or heard about, _any_ abuse at the camp at the time, including abuse perpetrated by persons other than John Smyth.

Rowland Wateridge
Guest
Rowland Wateridge

As we all know, Keith Makin has been commissioned to investigate the facts and prepare a report on behalf of the Church of England. These are relevant extracts from his Terms of Reference: ” 2. Scope of the Review 2.1 The Review will focus on two related but distinct questions: (1) what did the Church of England (i.e. relevant officers and institutions) know about alleged abuse perpetrated by John Smyth, and (2) what was the response of the Church of England to those allegations. 2.2 In connection with the first question, the Review will consider: (1) What information was available… Read more »

Jeremy
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Jeremy

How interesting that these Terms of Reference focus only on allegations against John Smyth.
Compare the concluding paragraphs of Mr. Graystone’s statement above.

Rowland Wateridge
Guest
Rowland Wateridge

As far as I am aware, Andrew Graystone’s statement above, in April this year, is the first public statement of allegations of abuse by other assailants. Information on those lines has only emerged (and in very cautious and limited terms, really amounting to little more than rumour) here and on the “Surviving Church” blog unofficially and very recently. Mr Makin was instructed and the Terms of Reference were framed in August last year, so it is not at all surprising that these further allegations did not figure in the Church’s instructions eight months ago. Since writing my previous post above,… Read more »

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

“Information on those lines has only emerged…”
But of course some people always knew it. The question is, who?
Moreover, did those people with knowledge have any role in framing the terms of reference?

Rowland Wateridge
Guest
Rowland Wateridge

Unlikely, I would have thought, but I don’t know and it seems equally clear that you don’t. You should ask Andrew Graystone rather than speculate about the motives of the people (presumably Church House) who gave the instructions and drafted the Terms of Reference.

Rowland Wateridge
Guest
Rowland Wateridge

PS The Terms of Reference currently on the C of E website are dated October 2019. They are a shorter edited version of the original instructions, but essentially the same. It’s necessary to say this in the interests of accuracy. The narrative introducing, and referring specifically to them, was dated 13th August 2019.

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

For George Carey, and Justin Welby, and George Pell, and indeed most of senior leadership of all churches, is it remarkable how conveniently deaf and blind to evil such allegedly insightful men have proven. Pell made a career out of either not being in the room or of being deceived by his conveniently dead or mentally enfeebled colleagues. George Carey displayed a remarkable ability to misunderstand things put in front of him, mishear things told to him and in general only see good in everyone. And now Justin Welby, a the man who heard and saw nothing. Has any senior… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Guest
Rowland Wateridge

IO: It seems to be a waste of time trying to persuade some people on TA to moderate their opinions and intemperate language about the present Archbishop. Please see my posts above in response to Jeremy. The time to comment, if at all, will be when we have read Keith Makin’s report.

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

I share the scepticism expressed here: http://survivingchurch.org/2019/09/18/keith-makin-and-the-smyth-review/

Paragraphs 7.1 and 7.2 of the terms of reference make it clear that it should be published by the end of July. Who wants to hold their breath?

Rowland Wateridge
Guest
Rowland Wateridge

That article and the comments – seven months ago – are by now way out of date! I think I read the other day that September is now the expected date for the report. But it won’t necessarily be published instantly. We can really only wait and see.

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

Just in time for Lambeth, as originally scheduled. Which would be odd timing—if one had any doubt about the report’s conclusions.

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

You keep missing the point. From the terms of reference for the Makin report, it is obvious that the report will not even attempt to answer certain questions.
Why do you persist in portraying the report as the one-and-only answer, when it obviously won’t be?
And no, I am not a fan of the present Archbishop. Are you?

Rowland Wateridge
Guest
Rowland Wateridge

I haven’t missed any points. I have tried to advance reasonable and rational ones without resorting to discourtesy and prejudice. I won’t take this discussion any further.

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

Having said “it seems to be a waste of time trying to persuade some people” and identified me by name, you then subtly accuse me of “discourtesy and prejudice” and announce that you are abandoning the field.
My summary would be this: If an argument cannot be defended, then perhaps it should not have been made.
Like it or not, the Archbishop of Canterbury may be criticised at the same time as a report is being written.
Especially when that report seems unlikely to discuss him at all.

Angusian
Guest
Angusian

Matthew Mason’s contribution is pithy, challenging and should bring organisations like the Titus Trust, up short !

Stanley Monkhouse
Guest

Whether or not Matthew’s list applies to ConEvos, it’s a useful tool for self-examination. There’s nothing particularly partisan about it: Many or even most of Matthew’s points apply to me to a greater or lesser extent, and I suspect that goes for us all. IMHO it comes down to institutionalisation, with the church, or a particular party within it, as the institution. I have been truly shocked by the speed with which some of the newly ordained become thus institutionalised, speaking in jargon understood only by members of their clubs, dealing only with the like-minded, and behaving in stereotypical ways… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Guest
Rowland Wateridge

I have no connection with the Titus Trust, nor any axe to grind. The Charity Commission are aware of the claims and the trustees’ expenditure on legal fees. They are disclosed in the Trust’s last filed Annual Accounts which can easily be accessed from the Charity Commission website. The Commission also publishes a very helpful and comprehensive ‘Guidance note’ “Vicarious liability of a charity or its trustees”. It doesn’t answer the question, as far as I can see, whether the Titus Trust has inherited any liabilities of the former Iwerne Trust, but it sets out an authoritative statement of the… Read more »

David
Guest
David

This entire debate is likely to have a significant effect on the financial position of the Titus Trust, as a result of the reaction of its key stakeholders. According to the most recent accounts (2018) the trust is dependent for well over half its income from donations. The donors may be past campers, people presently involved with the trust, large evangelical churches. I wonder how many of them will be much less inclined to give. The trust is dependent on parents wishing to send their children to the camps. While some campers will have been attending the camps for a… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Guest
Rowland Wateridge

I have no connection with the Titus Trust, and I did not attend a public school. However, it is worth noting that Iwerne is just one of four camps run by the Trust at different locations, and that the camp leaders at all of the sites are ordained priests.