Thinking Anglicans

Update on safeguarding complaint against the Archbishop of Canterbury

The following statement has been issued by Lambeth Palace this morning.

Update on safeguarding complaint against the Archbishop of Canterbury
12/11/2020

The abuse carried out by the late John Smyth was horrific and support continues to be offered to survivors. The Makin review is currently looking at the Church’s handling of allegations about his abuse, including the response of other organisations involved.

A formal complaint made to the National Safeguarding Team, NST, in June, that the Archbishop of Canterbury did not follow correct safeguarding procedure when responding to an allegation against Smyth, has not been substantiated. The complaint referred to Lambeth’s response to allegations which first came to attention in 2013 and information relating to the specific issues raised has been reviewed. Information relating to a further complaint sent to the NST in August, about wider issues, has now also been reviewed and no safeguarding concerns have been identified. All the information reviewed will now be sent to the Makin Review, due to publish next year, for further scrutiny.

Archbishop Justin is deeply sorry for the abuse that was carried out by John Smyth. The Archbishop has committed himself to leading the change needed in the Church of England relating to safeguarding and is personally keen to listen to survivors and striving to keep developing and learning in his own ministry.

Both the reviewers and the Church recognise that giving information to this review has the potential to be re-traumatising for victims and survivors. Support can be offered to victims through the National Safeguarding Team’s survivor engagement worker Emily Denne, who can be contacted at emily.denne@churchofengland.org or do contact Keith Makin, the independent reviewer, direct at keith.makin@independentreviews.live.

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Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
11 days ago

“A formal complaint made to the National Safeguarding Team, NST, in June, that the Archbishop of Canterbury did not follow correct safeguarding procedure when responding to an allegation against Smyth, has not been substantiated” A Church of England Core Group has decided the complaint against Archbishop Welby “has not been substantiated”. Does the Church hierarchy honestly think anyone – especially a ‘Thinking Anglican’ – takes seriously any decisions by a Church Core Group – especially in the light of the George Bell, George Carey and Martyn Percy moral and legal disgraces?! As Richard Scorer, a solicitor at the law firm… Read more »

Last edited 11 days ago by Richard W. Symonds
John Wallace
John Wallace
11 days ago

So agree with this, Richard. I hope Lambeth got discount for the amount of whitewash used!

Simon Sarmiento
Admin
11 days ago

The complainant in this matter has issued a press release in reply:
https://www.thinkinganglicans.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/pressrelease.pdf

Last edited 11 days ago by Simon Sarmiento
Kate
Kate
11 days ago

I can’t get the Twitter link to work

Simon Sarmiento
Admin
11 days ago
Reply to  Kate

Should be fixed now.

Kate
Kate
11 days ago

Thanks.

Fr. Dean Henley
Fr. Dean Henley
11 days ago

As ever the Church comes out of this looking so grubby. The list of things the Archbishop ought to have resigned over gets ever longer but it’s clear that he’s determined to cling onto his office come hell or high water. He was a dormitory officer at the Iwerne holiday camps he must surely have been aware of the children’s scars.

Martin Sewell
Martin Sewell
11 days ago

I have been closely involved in this story for some time and am not afraid to make straight criticism where that is justified. I have not heard anyone who knows the facts seriously suggest that ++ Justin knew of the abuse at the time it was happening. I do not believe it. If that were to change I would be content to say so. I do not expect to do so. The problems lie elsewhere.

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
11 days ago
Reply to  Martin Sewell

Martin, you say: “I have not heard anyone who knows the facts seriously suggest that ++ Justin knew of the abuse at the time it was happening” I don’t think it relevant whether Archbishop Welby knew of John Smyth’s abuse “at the time it was happening” or not. Probably not, but that’s not the point. I don’t like repeating myself [Opinion – 31 October 2020], but in this instance I will because I don’t think “the problems lie elsewhere”. ‘Let me be very specific about Archbishop Welby’s safeguarding failure regarding Smyth – which needs to be addressed now [not by… Read more »

Last edited 11 days ago by Richard W. Symonds
Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
11 days ago

Richard: I’m not defending the Archbishop or speculating about what he may or may not have known, but just pointing out that although primus inter pares in the Anglican Communion, he has absolutely no jurisdiction outside England. If, as you say, the letter was sent to South Africa and there was no response from that end, then any culpability must rest there. You are absolutely correct that Smyth continued to hold a position of considerable public respect in South Africa after 2013. I have posted a very significant video of him on the ‘Surviving Church’ blog which illustrates this. He… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
10 days ago

Another whitewashed safeguarding failure which should lie heavy on the conscience of Archbishop Welby is the case of 96-year-old Barbara Whitley – Bishop Bell’s only-surviving niece up until five weeks ago [Oct 9 2020]. In 2017, Mrs Whitley said “I’m determined to clear his name before I die”. Her dying wish was not granted by the Archbishop who maintained – even after the Church-commissioned Carlile and Briden reports proved the abuse allegations “unfounded” – that a “significant cloud” still hangs over the wartime Bishop of Chichester. If any “cloud” exists, it now hangs heavy over the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin… Read more »

Last edited 10 days ago by Richard W. Symonds
Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
10 days ago

Richard: I have always been with you on the subject of Bishop Bell. My comment, inevitably, is based on what little we know about the present complaints which have been dismissed.

Some of the other comments on this thread have been highly speculative. Everyone should wait for the Makin report which will contain both a chronology and an executive summary.

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
10 days ago

RW, I do not agree with you that we should wait for the Church-commissioned Makin Report which, it seems to me, will simply be a “chronology and executive summary” of what we clearly already know.

Also, I have a built-in scepticism of Church-commissioned reports – borne of 5 years bitter experience of Church PR/Propaganda – which can be published/delayed at the whim of whoever is ‘pulling the strings’ at the time.

.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
10 days ago

Richard: This is not a place for making bets, but I shall be amazed if Mr Makin’s report runs to less than 300 pages! I suspect it could be many more. He has faced a daunting task from the outset, and ‘developments’ on the way have added greatly to it. I don’t understand why you aren’t prepared to grant Mr Makin’s report the same status as Lord Carlile’s and Mr Biden’s. Both of those reports were commissioned by the Church. Can we leave it there? I understand your strength of feeling, particularly about Bishop Bell, which, to repeat, I share.

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
10 days ago

RW, of course I will grant the Makin report the same status as that of Carlile’s and Briden’s. It’s just that I don’t think the Makin report will fundamentally change anything within the Church hierarchy, just as the Carlile and Briden reports have not fundamentally changed anything within the Church hierarchy – especially relating to Bishop Bell.

Last edited 10 days ago by Richard W. Symonds
Kate
Kate
10 days ago

We do know though that IICSA recommended dioceses needed a DSA instead of a DSO – ie someone independent of the diocesan bishop. The spirit of that recommendation has not been kept here as those who led the handling of this complaint don’t appear to be independent of Lambeth Palace, especially as Lambeth Palace published the outcome. Irrespective of whether there was any underlying wrongdoing by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the process seems to flout the IICSA recommendations and IS a whitewash. There were two options for proper governance a) ask someone independent to review the complaints – ABC is… Read more »

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
10 days ago
Reply to  Kate

I can’t comment on the House of Lords Commisioner for Standards issue.

However, IICSA recommended that DSAs (Diocesan Safeguarding Advisers, who can only advise) be replaced by Diocesan Safeguarding Officers (who would have authority to overrule a bishop on safeguarding matters).

At any rate, the handling of the complaint against Abp. Welby has definitely not been within the spirit of IICSA’s recommendations, feeble as they are.

Kate
Kate
10 days ago
Reply to  Janet Fife

Sorry, I got DSA and DSO the wrong way around

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
10 days ago
Reply to  Kate

Kate: Firstly, the complaint was made before publication of the IICSA report, although that is irrelevant anyway for the following reasons. There are legal formalities which have to be followed before departing from existing Church legislation. (As an aside, IICSA is an instrument of HM Government and is not part of the governance of the Church of England, any more than it is of the Roman Catholic Church.). Nevertheless the C of E has been so embarrassed by IICSA’s findings that it has accepted the recommendations unconditionally, and promised to adopt them. The CDM was already under revision on the… Read more »

Fr. Dean Henley
Fr. Dean Henley
9 days ago
Reply to  Martin Sewell

Surely a dormitory officer would notice the children’s blood stained clothing and bed linen. Quite apart from the physical injuries inflicted by Smyth the boys would have been emotionally and psychologically traumatised by the beatings following Smyth’s interrogations about their masturbatory fantasies. I’m at a loss to know how anyone with a modicum of pastoral ability would have missed these alarming details.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
9 days ago

Most of the beatings took place in a shed at Smyth’s own home, not at Iwerne – although we’re told that one of the worst beatings did occur at a Iwerne camp. According to witness accounts, the boys and young men wore nappies so that the blood wouldn’t seep into their clothing. So the signs were probably not as visible as you might imagine, especially as the lads were trying not to show visible signs of discomfort. As most survivors know, it’s astonishing how even violent abuse can be ‘hidden’ from most people – especially those who don’t want to… Read more »

Fr. Dean Henley
Fr. Dean Henley
9 days ago
Reply to  Janet Fife

Those poor wee souls, I ought not to be shocked after all these scandals but I am.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
8 days ago

Yes, the detail is heartbreaking.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
9 days ago

Is there any suggestion, or evidence, that this happened on Justin Welby’s watch or in his dormitory? Much more pertinent is who administered first aid. Another matter which I’m certain Keith Makin with his senior social care background will have investigated and taken on board. We should find out when the report is published next year.

Kate
Kate
11 days ago

IICSA tells us that as a generality there have been serious problems relating to the handling of safeguarding complaints within the Church of England. The investigation published all the information it considered. . Set against that truly independent background, an investigator (presumably) appointed and paid for by the Church of England concludes in a particular case there is “nothing to see here” but publishes no information to support that conclusion. . Can the Church of England really not see that an independent observer might struggle to believe a carefully worded denial without evidence when set against the culture identified by… Read more »

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
11 days ago
Reply to  Kate

Kate, the complainant has asked me to post this reply to you: “It was not given to an independent investigator, but was looked at by NST themselves, under the Chair of Zena Marshall. It appears that Zena tried to undermine the process by condoning an approach by the Archbishops Chief of Staff direct to the complainant, presumably to persuade him to call off the dogs. There was no independent investigation. In fact, NST were at pains to point out there WAS no investigation”

Kate
Kate
11 days ago
Reply to  Janet Fife

Janet, that is even worse then. It is impossible to see this as anything other than a whitewash.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
10 days ago
Reply to  Kate

You’re right. Industrial quantities of whitewash.

Marise Hargreaves
Marise Hargreaves
11 days ago

This is why the church cannot be allowed to continue investigating and judging its own. This has not been a fair, balanced, independent process given the reply by the complainant who again is sidelined as an inconvenient truth. It is an exercise in face saving and preservation of the hierarchy yet again. The only lessons learned is how to put together yet another statement which has a lot of words but no substance.

Michael O’Sullivan
Michael O’Sullivan
11 days ago

How is it that the Archbishop of Canterbury seems to be going about suspending people left right and centre for things they may or may not have done – I’m thinking his illustrious predecessor Lord Carey and, for example, the Bishop of Lincoln- when he’s clearly up to his ears in it himself?

Stanley Monkhouse
11 days ago

I wonder how Private Eye was able to print this over a week ago. Lambeth Leaks?

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
11 days ago

For those not familiar with the Private Eye article

Kate
Kate
11 days ago

And why was this published by Lambeth Palace? They should surely have had no involvement in the investigation review.

Interested Observer
Interested Observer
11 days ago

Archbishop Justin is deeply sorry for the abuse that was carried out by John Smyth.”

What does this mean? He claims that he knew nothing about Smyth, and at all times has acted appropriately. So what is he apologising for? You don’t apologise for things for which you take neither personal nor corporate responsibility, you express regret, you condemn…but specifically, what is he accepting responsibility for, such that he can then apologise for it? Is he speaking personally or corporately?

Anthony Archer
Anthony Archer
10 days ago

The reality is, I believe, that we need to wait for the Makin Review, and I say this as a former Iwerne camper, distraught at events, both concerning Smyth and Fletcher. Lots of people (more than 50 quite quickly I speculate) knew about Smyth, to the extent that they knew he had left the country in unusual circumstances. It would be interesting to know what his chambers colleagues thought in the Temple. Here was a rising star at the Bar leaving suddenly. If he had discerned a call to ordained ministry, that would have been understandable. But that wasn’t the case. But knowing about Smyth’s… Read more »

Last edited 10 days ago by Anthony Archer
Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
10 days ago
Reply to  Anthony Archer

I have made the point above, in fact many times on TA, that a full and accurate chronology is crucial in establishing what happened when and where, and who knew what and when. Some of the comments above about IICSA simply don’t hold because they don’t fit into the known chronology of the present complaint and the subsequent publication of the IICSA report. I can’t comment about Smyth’s colleagues at the Bar, but it is a fact that he returned from Africa to this country to appear in our Courts on several occasions. As to the possibility of being ordained,… Read more »

David Lamming
David Lamming
10 days ago

As an exemplar of a comprehensive chronology, see pages 7-19 of the Pearl Review on Bishop Hubert Whitsey, A Betrayal of Trust (currently “taken down temporarily [from the website] because a legal issue concerning the report has been raised which needs to be considered carefully”: see the note dated 11/11/2020 on the News and Media pages of the C of E website. Rather like shutting the door after the horse has bolted since many people will doubtless have already downloaded the full report.)

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
9 days ago
Reply to  David Lamming

I know it sounds blasé, but such detailed chronologies are bread and butter routine for lawyers handling complex child and vulnerable adult abuse cases. This, to my mind, is the principal criticism of the Church’s hopeless bungling of the Bishop Bell case by trying to handle something in-house which was entirely beyond their capabilities. It should have been outsourced, or someone with the necessary experience brought in. There was, and is, no shortage of such expertise. I don’t want to labour the point, but there are comments on this thread about the present complaint which fall as the chronology is… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
10 days ago
Reply to  Anthony Archer

Second reply: As late as 2015, possibly later, Smyth was living a publicly ‘respectable’ life in South Africa. He is known to have visited the UK in those years. This video of him appearing on South African public television in late 2014, possibly 2015, is revealing: full of aplomb and self-confident, and the deference of the TV interviewer to Smyth is striking:

htpps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V-huJL5tdek

Last edited 10 days ago by Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
9 days ago

The link does not appear to work, so this is a second attempt. I urge people to watch this video – it’s very revealing indeed. Smyth does mention his legal colleagues back in England as though nothing at all had happened as late as 2015. It’s significant that he himself had survived a charge of manslaughter in Zimbabwe years earlier. He left Harare in 2008.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V-huJL5tdek

Matthew Ineson
Matthew Ineson
10 days ago

Of course Welby was cleared. Why? Because once again the CofE is marking its own homework, the investigation was conducted by the CofE. There is no way they will find him guilty of anything…because reputation is much more important than victims. Always has been, always will be.
Why wasnt the investigation conducted by someone outside of, and totally independent of, the church? Because the church wouldnt dare allow it in case the truth were exposed.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
9 days ago

May I, as my final contribution, add here something which I have posted on the corresponding ‘Surviving Church thread: I’m going to boldly assert that people might have got hold of the wrong end of the stick about this latest ‘investigation’. I may be wrong, but my understanding is that it relates to past events and not current or future safeguarding failures. Smyth’s death in 2017 put an end to the latter, so a complaint made on those grounds in 2020 would not succeed.   Past misdemeanours can be misconduct and a matter for a CDM, but I don’t think… Read more »

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
9 days ago

Rowland, the complainant has asked me to reply as follows: “Part of the complaint did refer to past behaviour, particularly Welby’s failures to investigate or stop Smyth in his tracks, and bring him to justice. I have been told that past behaviour cannot be looked at under the current Practice Guidelines. The “wider issues” relate to the fourteen untruths ( er……lies ?) that Welby said on the Channel 4 interview. Again, I was told, this is not a safeguarding matter. However, I argued that his failures and cover up of Smyth was not a one-off in 2013, but was repeated… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
9 days ago
Reply to  Janet Fife

Janet: It is emphatically not my role to advise the complainant, and I repeat here the reply I have given to you on the ‘Surviving Church’ blog: “There is so much that needs to be considered and carefully weighed up in this complicated saga. I have pointed out on another blog [TA] that if a letter was sent to South Africa in 2013, as we are told it was, and they did not act on it, then any culpability must rest at the South African end. Although the Archbishop of Canterbury is as a courtesy treated as the head of… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
9 days ago

I firmly believe the complainant should, with professional help, complete the CDM forms at the earliest opportunity.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
8 days ago

Richard: Unlike you, I would not presume to advise people unasked without any knowledge of the facts, still less on a public website. This has to be my final word. It’s none of our business – yours or mine!

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
8 days ago

Rowland, you are not being asked to advise the complainant – but it would be a good thing if you expressed some concern for him.

Kate
Kate
7 days ago

I don’t think that’s entirely accurate. The Archbishop of Canterbury as the head of the Anglican Communion has decided who, and who not, to invite to the Lambeth Conference. While he can’t order South Africa to do anything, he clearly still has a leadership role.

ACI
ACI
6 days ago
Reply to  Kate

The authority to invite does not translate to an authority to intervene. It translates to an authority not to invite. That is as far as it goes. Both for conservative as for progressive plaintifs.

Gilo
Gilo
9 days ago

A telling sign when the CEO of a professional safeguarding organisation (dependent on CofE for much of its work) calls out CofE structure for dishonesty and injustice. Tweet by CEO thirtyone:eight In a structure with almost no accountablity (variable and ineffective at best) how does this vital component become part of necessary culture change? As part of my submission to the Interim Support Scheme I am calling for published apologies from a raft of senior figures for their cruelty and dishonesty, and their complicity with the dissembling by the Church’s agents, and for frankly rotten sets of behaviour. This may… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
9 days ago
Reply to  Gilo

“As part of my submission to the Interim Support Scheme, I am calling for published apologies from a raft of senior figures for their cruelty and dishonesty, and their complicity with the dissembling by the Church’s agents, and for frankly rotten sets of behaviour. This may be one of the ways forward – a procession of apologies across much of the senior layer published in Church Times” ~ ‘Gilo’ I call upon all ‘Lords Spiritual’ [active Bishops and Archbishops] to offer their resignations en masse to the Supreme Head of the Church of England Her Majesty The Queen – just… Read more »

Last edited 9 days ago by Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
9 days ago
Reply to  Gilo

The words of ‘Gilo’ remind me of what Revd Graham Sawyer said at the IICSA in July 2018: “The sex abuse that was perpetrated upon me by Peter Ball pales into insignificance when compared to the entirely cruel and sadistic treatment that has been meted out to me by officials, both lay and ordained. I know from the testimony of other people who have got in touch with me over the last five or 10 years that what I have experienced is not dissimilar to the experience of so many others and I use these words cruel and sadistic because… Read more »

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