Titus Trust, John Smyth, and Jonathan Fletcher
The Titus Trust published this statement yesterday:
John Smyth: statement on settlement
The Trustees of The Titus Trust wish to make this statement now that a settlement has been reached with three men who have suffered for many years because of the appalling abuse of John Smyth.
We are devastated that lives have been blighted by a man who abused a position of trust and influence to inflict appalling behaviour on others, and we have written to those concerned to express our profound regret at what happened and also to apologise for any additional distress that has been caused by the way The Titus Trust has responded to this matter.
The emergence of details about the abuse by John Smyth and Jonathan Fletcher has caused us to reflect deeply on our current culture and the historic influences upon us. Although the culture of the camps that The Titus Trust runs today has changed significantly from the Scripture Union camps of the late 70s and early 80s we still want to look hard at our traditions and practices and to invite feedback from those currently involved and also those who are no longer involved.
This reflection includes a number of elements and has led, or is leading to, the following actions:
- A full independent review of our safeguarding practices took place in 2018 by thirtyone:eight and the recommendations have been implemented in 2019 to ensure that we operate best practice across all our camps to protect the children and adults involved in our activities. Among other things, this has included receiving training in pastoral care and supporting survivors of abuse.
- An internal Cultural Review has been carried out that considered aspects of our traditions and practices and identified risks to and ways of building healthy cultures across our leaders teams.
- An independent Cultural Review will begin shortly which will include inviting feedback from a wide range of individuals and organisations to enable us to look honestly at our culture and its impact on individual behaviour.
The Trustees regret that we have not been able to speak out while the legal situation has been ongoing and want to take the opportunity now to listen well to people’s experiences of our camps to inform our future planning. We would therefore invite anyone who would like to share their experience to email firstname.lastname@example.org. If anyone wishes to contribute to the forthcoming Cultural Review, we invite them to be in touch too, so we can pass their details to the review team once their work gets underway.
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. We recognise the impact that this guarded use of language has caused, and apologise if this has contributed in any way to the anguish experienced by the survivors and their families.
The Titus Trust is co-operating fully with the Review into John Smyth led by Keith Makin. Extensive documentation has been provided to the Reviewers and the Trust has met with them and expects to do so again to further assist in the Review.
Today, the following statement has been issued in response:
Statement from victims of the Titus Trust and John Smyth QC
4th April 2020
We call for the Titus Trust to cease its activities immediately, and to disband.
Yesterday the Titus Trust issued a statement following the settlement of three civil claims in respect of abuse by John Smyth QC. The statement comes no less than eight years after a victim of Smyth bravely came forward to inform the trust of the appalling legacy of abuse upon which their organisation is built. It is an astonishing 38 years since the leaders of the Iwerne network were first made aware of the criminal nature of this horrific abuse.
When the abuse came to light, the trustees of the Titus Trust, who now run the Iwerne network, did everything they could to protect their own interests. They did not offer care and support to the victims. They refused to cooperate with an independent inquiry. If the Titus Trust had been open and transparent with what they knew years ago, John Smyth could have been brought to justice. Instead they repeatedly blanked the victims, refusing to speak with us and denying any responsibility. Perhaps we should not have expected them to act with care or candour, since some of most senior members of the network had been complicit in concealing the abuse for 38 years.
In the face of this intransigence we felt compelled to take action against the Titus Trust, so that they would be forced to confront their responsibilities. Even so, the trust has spent eye-watering sums of money fighting our claims – many times the amount they have offered us in settlement. We are pleased that they have finally issued a limited apology for their recent behaviour, but we note that none of those responsible has resigned. They have not acknowledged the historic cover-up. There is no evidence that the culture of moral superiority, exclusivity and secrecy that has pervaded the network for decades has changed in any way.
Those of us who suffered as victims of John Smyth through our contacts with the Iwerne network simply want to uncover the truth. We want an accurate narrative of the abuse and its cover-up, not just for our own sakes, but for the sake of scores of victims of Smyth in Africa, and for the sake of those young people who even today come under the toxic influence of this network. John Smyth is only one of several abusers known to us who have been closely associated with the Iwerne camps network over many years. Events of recent years lead us to believe that there are still some within the Titus network who value their own reputations more than they care about the children they work with. Shockingly, some of those are ordained clergy in the Church of England. Such attitudes should have no place in any organisation working with children.
The Titus Trust has consistently said that they were not prepared to take part in the Church of England’s Makin Review into John Smyth whilst litigation was outstanding. Now that this settlement has been reached, that excuse is gone, and we urge the trustees and all those involved in the Iwerne network to cooperate fully with the Makin Review, and the other reviews being held into abuse by John Smyth and Jonathan Fletcher.
A culture that has resisted reform in the face of overwhelming evidence of damage over many years is beyond reform. It is our wholehearted belief that in the light of these events the Titus Trust and its work should cease immediately.
To those within and beyond the Titus/Iwerne network who have come to understand that they too are victims of abuse, we urge you to take courage and seek help outside the network.
Issued on behalf of victims of the Titus Trust and John Smyth QC
For more information, contact Andrew Graystone