Tag Archives: Baroness Stowell

AUGUST 29 2020 – ‘CORE BLIMEY’ – PRIVATE EYE ON CORE GROUPS WITHIN THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND – “THE MOST INCOMPETENT AND UNJUST FORM OF INVESTIGATION I HAVE EVER SEEN” – LORD ALEX CARLILE QC

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“Core Blimey” – Private Eye No 1529 – 28 August – 10 September 2020

PRIVATE EYE – CHURCH NEWS – “CORE BLIMEY”

FOLLOWING our report in Eye 1527 that there are currently 27 national “core groups” investigating safeguarding concerns about bishops and deans in the Church of England, the church’s lead bishop on safeguarding, Rt. Revd Jonathan Gibbs, quickly put out a correction.

There are in fact 30 such groups, three more having been created since the last count in mid-July. He added that “about three-quarters of current national cases are about senior clergy failing to act appropriately rather than a direct allegation of abuse.”

This isn’t as reassuring as he seems to think: it implies that seven or eight of the most senior figures in the Church of England are being investigated over allegations of first-order abuse.

Some of these may be retired, but as far as we know only two – former Archbishop George Carey and current Bishop of Lincoln Christopher Lowson – are currently barred from acting as bishops, and their cases don’t involve any “direct allegation of abuse”.

Lord Carlile QC said two weeks ago that the C of E’s core group system is “the most incompetent and unjust form of investigation I have ever seen.”

Carlile led the 2017 review of how the church mishandled claims against the late Bishop George Bell. He concluded that its George Bell core group had been “unmethodical, confused and unstructured”, with the membership and chair changing from meeting to meeting. The whole process was predicated on Bell’s guilt and resulted in “catastrophic damage” to his posthumous reputation. (The mistaken allegation that Bell was a paedophile was reported as fact in the Daily Telegraph by religious-affairs editor John Bingham – who was subsequently punished for his error by being appointed the C of E’s head of media.)

Carlile is among 65 lawyers, clerics and abuse survivors who signed a letter to the Charity Commission this month, asking it to challenge the C of E over “the continuing flow of cases of injustice”. The signatories accuse core groups of acting “in ways reminiscent of the Star Chamber, synonymous with the selective use of arbitrary unaccountable power”.

Last month, for example, a victim of John Smyth QC made a formal complaint against Archbishop Justin Welby for failing to act on information about his old friend’s violently abusive behaviour, and was duly told that an investigation would be held. But he now learns that Welby has already been the subject of a secret investigation into the claim in 2017 – in which the complainant was not even consulted. The new inquiry is nothing more than an internal review of that process – which could be tricky since no-one will say who conducted the investigation or what it discovered.

Ultimately, the judgement on whether Welby should be disciplined rests with the new Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, who has himself been recently investigated by a core group; and the judgement on whether Archbishop Cottrell should be disciplined for his safeguarding failure rests with Archbishop Welby.

What could be fairer than that?

 

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AUGUST 18 2020 – “THE NEW SAFEGUARDING BISHOP DEFENDS THE OLD MORALLY AND LEGALLY INDEFENSIBLE BANKRUPT SYSTEM OF ‘CORE GROUPS’ – LIKE A GOOD ECCLESIASTICAL PUPPET-ON-A-STRING”

“THE NEW SAFEGUARDING BISHOP DEFENDS THE OLD MORALLY AND LEGALLY INDEFENSIBLE BANKRUPT SYSTEM OF ‘CORE GROUPS’ – LIKE A GOOD ECCLESIASTICAL PUPPET-ON-A-STRING” – RICHARD W. SYMONDS – BELL SOCIETY

 

Lead Safeguarding Bishop to critics: “You don’t understand” – ‘Cranmer’

 

Safeguarding bishop sides with critics of the Church of England’s policy

17 AUGUST 2020

GEOFF CRAWFORD/CHURCH TIMES

The Bishop of Huddersfield, Dr Jonathan Gibbs, addresses the General Synod in February where he said that “serious money” was needed to fund redress for survivors of clerical abuse

THE lead bishop on safeguarding, Dr Jonathan Gibbs, has agreed that the C of E’s system needs “root-and-branch change” in order to improve its response to survivors.

Last week, survivors, lawyers, academics, and members of the clergy and General Synod wrote to the chair of the Charity Commission, Baroness Stowell, urging her to intervene to address “the failures of the Archbishops’ Council of the Church of England to devise a safe, consistent and fair system of redress” for victims and survivors of abuse (News, 14 August).

In his formal response last week, Dr Gibbs, who is the Bishop of Huddersfield and part of the National Safeguarding Team (NST) and Steering Group (NSST), deflected criticism of the NST and its core-groups system, adding that the NST should be trusted and respected.

He later told BBC Radio 4’s Sunday, however: “In one sense, I welcome this letter, because it adds weight to my desire to bring about the kind of root-and-branch change that we all long for: in particular in the way in which we respond to survivors, the way in which we deal with complaints, the way in which we change the culture of the Church.”

The letter to the Charity Commission, which also criticises the “impaired transparency and intermittent accountability” of the NST, calls for a complete reform of safeguarding practice and policy within the C of E. It urges the Church not to wait for the final report of the Anglican investigation by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), which is due to be published this autumn (News, 1 May), before acting.

Dr Gibbs told the programme: “There is no doubt that, in the past, our systems have failed considerably, and that was made very clear during IICSA. That made very painful listening for all of us involved in the Church and our hearts go out to and our principle focus must be on survivors, and improving the way in which we respond to survivors. . .

“There is still a long way to go. There is journey; but it is a journey to which we are absolutely committed. . . The direction of travel is going to be substantially influenced by the IICSA report when it comes out very shortly. We made clear our commitment to that journey of change especially in the debate at the General Synod back in February” (News, 14 February).

Dr Gibbs also remarked on the research, published in the Church Times last week, by Dr Josephine Anne Stein, who estimated that the Church spends between £20 and £25 million on safeguarding, but that just £55,000 of this went to survivors in the form of redress (News, 14 August).

“I welcome that piece of research; it is a great piece of work. . . The Church’s expenditure on safeguarding work has expanded very substantially in recent years and that is really important because that is part of making sure that we do begin to respond much better to all of these safeguarding concerns.”

He agreed that the money was not directly benefiting survivors, but “that is the commitment we made in February.” A staff member was being appointed “very soon” to begin advancing redress, he said.

“Even in advance of that work, I have written to the Archbishops and the heads of the Church Commissioners to say I want to set up an interim scheme that enables us to respond much sooner than the time it will take to put the full scheme in place. So, absolutely, not nearly enough has been done here on redress, and redress is not just about compensation, it is about helping people rebuild their lives, and that is underway. So, I welcome that; as far as I am concerned it is weight to help push forward.”

Dr Gibbs maintained, however, that he did not support all of the letter’s criticisms. “I recognise what lies behind the letter: its deep frustration with the Church’s failures, in particular to address the needs of survivors. [But] no, I don’t agree with the specifics of the criticisms there, and implications about a lack of integrity on the part of some of my colleagues. I think those are simply unfortunate.”

One of the signatories of the letter, Lord Carlile, who wrote the independent review into allegations against a former Bishop of Chichester, the late George Bell (News, 22 December 2017), said earlier in the programme: “The Church has a very haphazard way of approaching safeguarding cases. There are numerous conflicts of interest that arise; it doesn’t fit into any recognisable jurisdictional structure; neither complainants, nor people complained against are getting a fair hearing. Additionally, the process is far too slow.”

Dr Gibbs said: “Making change in a big institution always takes time; there is always a certain amount of institutional resistance that is just part of being part of large organisation. There is always a danger of thinking someone else is dealing with this issue.” He reported that the Archbishop of Canterbury shared his frustration with the present system.

MORE INFORMATION

“Pressure on Bishop of Huddersfield over lack of action on Church sex abuse” – Yorkshire Live