Tag Archives: Barry Bennell

July 7 2019 – “Bishop Hancock challenges the Synod on safeguarding” – Church Times

Bishop Hancock challenges the Synod on safeguarding

07 JULY 2019

SAM ATKINS/CHURCH TIMES

The Bishop of Bath and Wells, the Rt Revd Peter Hancock (centre) with Meg Munn and Phil Johnson

 

 

https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2019/12-july/news/uk/bishop-hancock-challenges-the-synod-on-safeguarding

VAGUE and evasive talk of culture change” over safeguarding is “not enough”, the Bishop of Bath & Wells, the Rt Revd Peter Hancock, told the General Synod on Sunday.

In a presentation, the Bishop said that the Church’s approach to survivors had been “inadequate”, and that all had a part to play in improving safeguarding practice.

“Vague and evasive talk of culture change is not enough,” he said. “It is driven by structures, appointments, and decisions. . .

“My challenge to Synod is that, if you are concerned about safeguarding in the Church, now is the time up to stand up, be counted, and get involved.”

A survivor who formed part of the presentation group, Phil Johnson, was one of the first to come forward, in 1996, with allegations of sexual abuse by a former Bishop of Gloucester and Lewes, Peter Ball. Mr Johnson is a member of the National Safeguarding Panel.

Mr Johnson told the Synod that safeguarding should be simple. “It is about vigilance, protection, and compassion,” he said. “It is not about endless bureaucracy.”

He said that the Church should not think that its safeguarding was necessarily better simply because it was spending more money on it.

Mr Johnson went on to say that the work to create a survivors’ reference group was very difficult, largely because so many victims had an “immense lack of trust” in the Church and the National Safeguarding Team (NST).

He was glad that the Safe Spaces project was close to completion, although he noted that he had first proposed it nearly six years ago, and, although money had been allocated for it, not a single penny had yet been spent on survivors. “This typifies how the Church does things,” he said. “We all need to come together to make things simpler, more efficient, quicker, and more cost-effective.”

The session began with a period of silence, and the Bishop said a prayer that had been written by a survivor of abuse: “Teach us to thirst for justice and righteousness in our Church . . . We lament the safeguarding failures of our Church. . . Helps us to repair broken lives so that those our Church has harmed may no longer survive but thrive.”

Safeguarding questions had been split from the rest of the questions, which were heard on Friday, to allow proper space for them. Bishop Hancock thanked the Business Committee for this approach; a presentation on safeguarding was given by the bishop, Mr Johnson, and Meg Munn, the chair of the National Safeguarding Panel.

In response to a question from Carolyn Graham (Guildford) about safeguarding cases’ being “passed around from diocese to diocese”, Bishop Hancock said that work was under way on an information-sharing system. A national case-management system would mean wider access to information lodged centrally. This would bring rigour. Asked by Canon Gavin Kirk (Lincoln) about survivors whose experience had led them to distrust the diocese where they lived, Bishop Hancock said that the voices of survivors must be heard in the process of redrafting safeguarding guidance.

He told Canon Rosie Harper (Oxford), who asked about the “moral imperative to restore and heal”, going further than “bare minimum legal redress”, that one part of the answer was to have a “standards-based approach to safeguarding”, and another was a charter “to provide survivors with confidence there is going to be consistency across dioceses”.

Some responses to safeguarding issues had been “woefully inadequate”, he said. He also reported that there had been attempts to establish mediation between survivors and the NST and some work had recently been commissioned on “restorative justice”.

In his presentation, Bishop Hancock said that the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) hearings had not been an easy experience for the Church. Some “justifiably difficult questions are being asked of us”, he said. But the inquiry had shone a “helpful light” on the C of E’s safeguarding procedures and failings.

He strongly urged every member of the Synod to read the two interim reports already released by IICSA: one on the case study of Chichester diocese and Peter Ball, and one on child sexual abuse in the context of religious institutions. The key findings in both reports, which were “harrowing and difficult to read”, were that clericalism and deference were causing “significant harm” (News, 9 May

A new case-management system for both national and diocesan safeguarding teams, which had been “sorely lacking”, was finally almost ready and would be rolled out next year, he reported.

He also said there would be three new lessons-learned reviews of the cases of John Smyth, the Revd Trevor Devamanikkam, and the late former Bishop of Chester, Victor Whitsey (News, 10 February 201716 June 201724 May).

A working group had been convened to examine whether the Clergy Disicpline Measure (CDM) was fit for its purpose in relation to safeguarding, he said. The group would have its first meeting in October (News, 31 May).

Ms Munn paid tribute to the three survivor representatives on the panel, who, despite being so damaged by their experiences of abuse, were still able and willing to help the Church become a safer place.

“The Church is late to this work: it needs to catch up; it has a lot to do,” she said. “I see a lot of people with good intentions, but you all need to do more, and do more, more quickly.”

SAM ATKINS/CHURCH TIMES Phil Johnson

Mr Johnson praised the leadership of Ms Munn and said that he was hopeful that this increased level of scrutiny would bear fruit. In particular, he was convinced that the CDM procedure was inadequate and needed reform.

The proposed redress scheme was very important for survivors and would need to be well funded, Mr Johnson said. It must include all cases of abuse, including those that had already come to financial settlements; many of these were agreed out of fear that the survivor might be landed with the Church’s “astronomical” legal costs.

He also supported the introduction of mandatory reporting of abuse allegations, along the lines developed by the pressure group Mandate Now. Two-thirds of current safeguarding cases were still dealt with exclusively in-house, he noted. Without actual sanctions for people who failed to pass on disclosures, the culture would never change.

In the questions following the presentations, the Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu, on a point of order, asked the view of the Synod on mandatory reporting, to which a majority raised their hands in favour. It was one of the recommendations of the IICSA report on Chichester diocese.

The Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Sarah Mullally, asked whether the Church still had a problem with clericalism, and whether it hindered good safeguarding practice.

Mr Johnson said that there had been a lot of deference, but that this was not a problem only for the Church. He gave the example of football clubs, where coaches had a great deal of authority. This was evident in the conviction of Barry Bennell, a former coach at Manchester City and Crewe Alexandra, and the conviction of Bob Higgins, the former Southampton coach, both for child sexual abuse.

The natural tendency to keep things in-house was a problem, Mr Johnson said. “Watching IICSA this last week, there’s clearly evidence that this remains,” he said. It was everyone’s responsibility to address this, and to make these subjects non-taboo. “Things should be recorded in a routine manner,” he argued.

He received a standing ovation for his words during the Synod debate.

There was criticism that there was not a full Synod debate on safeguarding. Last week, Martin Sewell, a representative from Rochester diocese, called the Synod “lazy and incurious” (News, 5 July).

Matthew Ineson, a survivor, who was handing out leaflets outside York Minster on Sunday morning, said: “The Archbishops blocked the debate [on safeguarding]: they are manipulating the Synod.

“There is a cover-up going on from the very highest parts of the Church; Archbishop Welby has persistently taken no further action. The way victims are treated is just diabolical.”

At the end of the service, before the blessing was given, Dr Sentamu led the congregation in prayer for those who were part of IICSA, and for survivors.

February 16 2018 – “Barry Bennell: Crewe ‘brushed scandal under carpet’ says Lord Carlile” – BBC

http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/38632026

Barry Bennell: Crewe ‘brushed scandal under carpet’ says Lord Carlile

Barry Bennell: Lord Carlile says football failed to protect youngsters from abuse

The Barry Bennell scandal was “brushed under the carpet” by Crewe Alexandra, according to the eminent barrister who prosecuted the serial paedophile in 1998.

Lord Carlile – one of the country’s top legal experts – told the BBC the club at the centre of the case was guilty of “institutional failure” over their former youth coach.

He also fears young footballers were abused because “this danger was not drawn to the attention of a wider public”.

Bennell, 64, who has already received three prison sentences – in 1995, 1998 and 2015 – has been convicted of 43 further charges of child sex abuse by a jury at Liverpool Crown Court. The jury were told of abuse of 12 boys between 1979 and 1990.

In a statement on Thursday, Crewe said the club “was not aware of any sexual abuse by Bennell” until his arrest in Florida in 1994, and that it did not receive any sexual abuse complaint about him “before or during his employment with the club.”

Crewe also said a police investigation found “no evidence to corroborate that the club was aware of Bennell’s offending”.

Chris Unsworth, Micky Fallon and Steven Walters

Bennell, who worked with a number of clubs across the north west of England, including Manchester City and Stoke City, was jailed for nine years in 1998, pleading guilty to 23 specimen charges at Chester Crown Court.

But the prosecuting barrister at the trial, Alex Carlile QC, who was made a life peer in 1999, has now spoken out for the first time about Crewe’s handling of the case.

“I believe the Crewe board should have addressed this issue, and I’d be very interested to see the board minutes of the time because I feel sure the board would have discussed it in some way, but I have the feeling it was brushed under the carpet,” he said.

“What I am satisfied about is that there should have been further inquiry by any club involved, including Crewe Alexandra. I’m surprised I did not read subsequently that Crewe had carried out an inquiry into what had occurred.”

Speaking to the BBC last year, Carlile said Bennell “seemed to me to be the embodiment of the sort of person you wanted no nearer than a million miles from your children”.

Barry Bennell calling card
Bennell’s relationship with Man City remains unclear, but the BBC has obtained what is believed to be a business card that the coach handed out to young players and their parents, describing himself as a the club’s ‘North-West representative’. The BBC cannot verify the authenticity of the card, but if this is what it appears to be, it may show how Bennell used City’s name to lure some of his victims.

League Two club Crewe have been under intense scrutiny over what was known about Bennell since former player Andy Woodward spoke out in November about the abuse he had suffered while a trainee at the club. Since then, other former players who say they were victims of Bennell have come forward.

A former board member at Crewe, Hamilton Smith, has claimed he had warned the club about Bennell’s relationship with young boys in the late 1980s, but the coach was allowed to stay in his job.

Bennell was eventually sacked in 1992 for reasons that have never been made public. Smith also says he asked the FA to investigate the case in 2001, after Bennell was convicted, but was ignored.

“If any senior people at the club knew more than they let on at the time then they should have been open about it,” said Carlile.

“Football coaches had immense power over young boys who they were training and clubs were in the place of parents and it’s quite clear that they didn’t take that position seriously.”

Andy Woodward says ‘justice has been served’

Crewe director of football Dario Gradi, who was the club’s manager from 1983 to 2007, was suspended by the Football Association in November 2016. During Bennell’s trial in 1998 it was revealed that one of the offences happened at Gradi’s house.

John Bowler, who has been chairman of the club since 1987, continues in his role.

“I’m very surprised about the continuity in the club of a number of people who were present at that time,” said Carlile.

“Dario Gradi was a relevant figure in this case. I’m not making any sort of allegation against Dario Gradi, but he was a relevant figure and I think Crewe ought to come clean about the way in which they dealt with this problem, admitting their shortcomings where there were shortcomings.”

Both Gradi and Bowler have denied any wrongdoing, and say the first they knew about Bennell’s crimes was when he was arrested in 1994.

Gradi has said he would “do everything within my power to assist all investigatory authorities” while Crewe announced in November 2016 the club would hold an independent review into how it dealt with historical child sex abuse allegations.

But Carlile has also spoken about his dismay at the lack of interest in the case at the time of Bennell’s earlier conviction.

“I’m absolutely certain that at the time there was institutional failure, and I’m very disappointed that it now appears as a result of a lack of publicity of that case other boys have been abused, because this danger was not drawn to the attention of a wider public,” he said.

“If someone was prosecuting that case today about serious indecency against young boys, some of whom might have stardom as footballers in front of them, it would’ve had blanket press coverage.

“The follow-through by the media would have been huge, and I suspect more complainants would have come forward as a result.

“I’m absolutely certain that if the media and the sport had taken this on as an issue in 1998, a lot of young people would not have been abused in the years that followed.”

Football child sex abuse scandal one of FA’s biggest crises – Greg Clarke

With hundreds of potential victims coming forward, multiple suspects, and many clubs and police forces across the country now investigating, the FA has begun an internal review into the crisis, headed by barrister Clive Sheldon QC.

“The FA inquiry has spluttered into life,” said Carlile, who spent a decade as the government’s terrorism legislation reviewer, and is leading an independent study into how the Church of England handled child abuse accusations.

“There was a change of leadership within almost days, the explanation has never been entirely clear to me, but I think that Clive Sheldon will be a splendid head of that inquiry.

“What we’re talking about is multiple, repeated, horrific crimes and I think the inquiry will have to have a keen intelligence about the way in which crimes of this kind develop.

“The lessons learnt must include explaining to those who run [sports] clubs to be able to anticipate these events and to take child safeguarding measures that will make it much more difficult for these events to happen.

“It’s a huge crisis for sport, it’s a bigger crisis than doping for athletics. It’s a crisis of confidence. It will diminish Britain’s very considerable success in every sport unfortunately, because parents will be more reluctant to allow their children to take part in sports clubs.

“It is going to provoke real difficulties for sports, but the sports have themselves to blame for this to some extent.”