Thinking Anglicans

Victims launch claim against John Smyth camp leaders

News release

Tuesday 21st August 2018      1430

VICTIMS LAUNCH CLAIM AGAINST JOHN SMYTH CAMP LEADERS

A group of men who say they were groomed and beaten by the English barrister John Smyth have launched a legal claim against the Titus Trust, which runs the notorious Iwerne holidays network.

One victim, who did not wish to be identified, said “The abuse we suffered as a consequence of attending Iwerne camps has had a devastating effect on all of our lives.  We have been compelled to take this course of action because of the unwillingness of the Titus Trust to accept any responsibility for what happened.”

Since John Smyth’s abuse came to public attention in February 2017, Titus Trust has consistently refused to speak to the men, to help identify other victims or to provide for the counselling they all need.   Victims’ advocate Andrew Graystone said “I have personally written to every individual Titus Trustee more than once, pleading for them to do their duty as trustees and as Christians, and help the victims.  Not one has responded.  The refusal of the trustees to offer any help to Smyth’s victims has massively compounded their suffering.”

The victims have instructed Richard Scorer of Slater and Gordon Solicitors to pursue their claim against Titus Trust.  Scorer has frequently represented victims of abuse In a church context. He said “No reasonable person could believe that the Titus Trust is anything other than the legal successor to the Iwerne Trust. If the current trustees of the Titus Trust persist in claiming that they bear no responsibility, we will be forced to launch additional claims against the individual surviving trustees of Iwerne, namely David Fletcher and Giles Rawlinson.”

Titus Trust is the legal successor to the Iwerne Trust, which continues to run camps under the Iwerne brand. Iwerne provides a programme of intensive Christian discipleship based around activity holidays. The programme has run continuously since 1930. The most recent Iwerne holidays were held this month.

John Smyth QC was the chair of the Iwerne Trust from 1975 to 1982.  He resigned when the trust became aware that he was using the network to recruit young men for abuse.  Smyth died at his home in South Africa on 11th August, just eight days after Hampshire Police had summoned him for formal questioning in connection with the offences.

For further information contact Andrew Graystone

andrew.graystone1@btinternet.com

07772 710090

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Rowland WateridgeRichard W. SymondsAndrea MiddletonDavid RuncornJayKay8 Recent comment authors
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Matthew Ineson
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Matthew Ineson

Good for them! Total support!

Janet Fife
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Janet Fife

It’s a real shame the victims/survivors have had to take this step. If the trustees had fulfilled their responsibilities, it wouldn’t be necessary. They are not setting a good example of Christian leadership for the children and young people who attend the camps and holidays.

JayKay8
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JayKay8

I fully agree with both Matthew and Janet and hope that the victims/survivors can get the support they need. It sounds as if obtaining support in any form from either the Church hierarchy or the Titus Trust will be fought tooth and nail, but I’m sure other survivors will offer whatever love and care they can. While we might not have experienced similar initial abuse, I think many of us can identify with the suffering from the secondary abuse and the devastating effects on our lives.

David Runcorn
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David Runcorn

I fully support an inquiry but it is misleading and sweeping to describe the Iwerne camps as a whole as ‘notorious’.

Andrea Middleton
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Andrea Middleton

It feels as though one of the key learnings for the church( especially leadership) MUST be the how to listen, and practice the restorative justice, compassion, healing and reconciliation ministry that ” binds up wounds” for those who are hurting. I think what I struggle with most is not just the initial abuse ( sadly, we have that in my profession, ( education) too), but the total unwillingness or inability of those who are leaders in any capacity to step forward in humble integrity, take some responsibility, and show a compassionate and caring response. Whatever happened to: ” I’m sorry… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
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Rowland Wateridge

I think that this announcement now makes this whole sad saga sub judice as far as discussion about the Titus Trust is concerned. As in the case of Bishop Bell, we will have to wait and see what happens. When, if, and by whom, an Enquiry should be carried out doesn’t seem to be furthered by this.

Richard W. Symonds
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I’m sure people like an Archbishop pray without ceasing, but it’s as if they pray for the miracle of being right. They can’t seem to admit to the possibility – especially in the Bishop Bell case – of being wrong.

Richard W. Symonds
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“None so blind”. Private Eye. 24 Aug – 6 Sept ’18 – p37 2 weeks ago, after 18 months of consideration, the CPS instructed Hants Police to summon John Smyth QC for a formal interview about allegations…in the late 70s he beat young men in his garden shed…8 days later Smyth died, apparently of heart failure…. His death robs 80+ victims of the chance to see him in court. They are left asking why so many senior clergy…chose to do nothing to stop him. The abuse was documented…as long ago as 1982 by Revd Mark Ruston, who interviewed 19 victims… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
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Rowland Wateridge

There are two distinct aspects to this matter which are in danger of becoming confused. (1) So far as I am aware, none of the people you name has perpetrated any abuse. The complaint against them, for which people are seeking an Enquiry, is the ‘cover-up’ after the abuse had occurred. (2) The survivors have instructed solicitors to pursue claims against the Titus Trust and, possibly, surviving trustees of the Iwerne Trust. So long as those claims are current, inevitably the cloak of confidentiality has fallen in relation to both parties, hence my saying we must wait and see.

Richard W. Symonds
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We are discussing the failures of Christian organisations to deal with abuse, abusers and abused.

So, “wait and see” (eg because of sub judice) does not apply in this discussion, and only further contributes to sweeping the abuse issue under the carpet.

Rowland Wateridge
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Rowland Wateridge

I clearly segregated two separate issues in my post. The survivors’ claims, made through solicitors, against specific parties, i.e., the Titus Trust and, possibly, residual trustees of the Iwerne Trust make them potentially defendants in litigation. Accordingly those claims, I submit, are sub judice and not matters for public discussion. I don’t propose to make any further comment on TA about this matter.