Tag Archives: Bishop of Durham Paul Butler

“Bishops were urged not to apologise fully for child sex abuse to minimise liability” – Daily Telegraph, Christian Today & Premier- August 22 2016

 

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http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/08/21/church-of-england-warned-bishops-not-to-apologise-too-fully-to-s/

Church of England warned bishops not to apologise too fully to sex abuse victims

Butler
The Bishop of Durham was head of safeguarding CREDIT: KEITH BLUNDY/AEGIES ASSOCIATES

Survivors of child sexual abuse have accused the Church of England of “acting like Pontius Pilate” as a previously unseen document revealed that bishops were explicitly instructed only to give partial apologies – if at all – to victims to avoid being sued.

Legal advice marked “strictly confidential” and circulated among the most senior bishops, told them to “express regret” only using wording approved by lawyers, PR advisers and insurers.

The guidance – written in 2007 and finally replaced just last year – also warns bishops to be wary of meeting victims face to face and only ever to do so after legal advice.

It speaks of the “unintended effect of accepting legal liability” for sexual abuse within their diocese and warns them to avoid “inadvertently” conceding guilt.

The paper, seen by The Telegraph and confirmed as genuine, advises bishops to use “careful drafting” to “effectively apologise” without enabling victims to get compensation.

welby
Joe tried to contact the Archbishop of Canterbury

Survivors said it showed there was a culture of denial, dishonesty and “blanking” victims in ways which had heightened their pain and ultimately failed to tackle the roots of the abuse crisis.

It follows a damning independent review of the Church’s handling of sadistic abuse by Garth Moore, a priest and top canon lawyer, in the 1970s.

It highlighted how the teenager – known as “Joe” – revealed his ordeal to a string of leading clerics, five of of them either bishops at the time  or later ordained as such, who then claimed not to remember anything.

They should say we need to stop this nonsense but they wash their hands like Pontius PilateJoe

The report singled out the way in which the Bishop of Durham, the Rt Rev Paul Butler, the Church’s then head of safeguarding, cut all contact with Joe, following advice from insurers, after he began legal action. The review condemned this as “reckless”.

Meanwhile Lambeth Palace brushed off around 17 attempts to alert the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby,  to the issue without any “meaningful” reply, it shows.

Joe said the newly revealed document “made total sense” in light of his own experience.

“This finally exposes the culture that has been followed,” he said

“The approach to survivors is often a corporate model and this document supports that – it shows a church led by lawyers and insurers, you get the impression that these people are really their masters.

“A diocese is deferential to their bishop and the bishop is deferential to a bunch of lawyers.

“The Church will say ‘our hands are tied’ but they are paying the people who are tying their hands.

“They should say we need to stop this nonsense but they wash their hands like Pontius Pilate.

“Every part of this nexus [the bishops, the lawyers and insurers owners] washes its hands of every other part of it but the nexus is joined at the hip.”

The advice, by the Church’s top legal advisor, Stephen Slack, explains how bishops could find themselves being sued over the actions – or inaction – of their predecessors.

Because of the possibility that statements of regret might have the unintended effect of accepting legal liability for the abuse it is important that they are approved in advance by lawyers, as well as by diocesan communications officers (and, if relevant, insurers)Legal advice to bishops, 2007

While accepting that they might “understandably want to express their regret”, it adds: “Because of the possibility that statements of regret might have the unintended effect of accepting legal liability for the abuse it is important that they are approved in advance by lawyers, as well as by diocesan communications officers (and, if relevant, insurers).

“With careful drafting it should be possible to express them in terms which effectively apologise for what has happened whilst at the same time avoiding any concession of legal liability for it.”

On the possibility of bishops meeting victims, it adds: “This may be the right course in some circumstances but great care will be needed to ensure that nothing is said which inadvertently concedes legal liability.”

One of Britain’s leading child abuse lawyers, David Greenwood of Switalskis, who represented Joe, said: “With Church organisations you expect a higher standard than just a legalistic approach.

“This is a naïve document, it is legalistic and doesn’t take into account the needs of survivors of child sexual abuse.

“I think this is more naivety than nastiness – but the effect definitely can be nasty.”

The pastoral response to alleged victims and survivors is of top priority, and needs to be separated as far as possible from the management processes for the situation, and from legal and insurance responsesChurch of England guidance 2015

Richard Scorer, another leading lawyer representing more than 50 victims in the ongoing Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, said: “This confirms what we have long suspected which is that when they would offer apologies they were deliberately constructed in a way to avoid any meaningful responsibility.

“I’m sure they will be embarrassed at the language here but it reflects a reality that we have come across time and again with the churches that they will take an apologetic tone but that is combined with an unwillingness to admit responsibility.”

New guidelines produced by the Church of England in June last year effectively repudiate the earlier advice, insisting that the “pastoral response” to victims should be the top priority and must be separated from legal and insurance responses.

But it goes on to add that apologies should be discussed with insurers, communications officer and ecclesiastical lawyers.

mullally
Bishop Sarah Mullally met with Joe and apologised for the Church’s handling of the case CREDIT: ASHMILLS.COM 2015

A Church of England spokesman said: “The Church of England published new guidance in 2015 emphasising that: ‘The pastoral response to alleged victims and survivors is of top priority, and needs to be separated as far as possible from the management processes for the situation, and from legal and insurance responses.’

This is a naïve document, it is legalistic and doesn’t take into account the needs of survivors of child sexual abuseDavid Greenwood, lawyer

“That superseded all previous advice and ensures that the pastoral needs of survivors must never be neglected and pastoral contact can continue whatever legal issues exist.”

He added: “Bishop Sarah Mullally is working closely with the National Safeguarding Team to implement the recommendations of the Elliott Review which have been fully endorsed by the House of Bishops.

“When Bishop Sarah received the review on behalf of the Church of England, as requested by the survivor, she offered an unreserved apology for the failings of the Church towards the survivor.

“Following the publication Bishop Sarah met with him and two members of MACSAS [Minister and Clergy Sexual Abuse Survivors].

“This was an opportunity to apologise in person for the failings of the Church towards him and the horrific abuse he suffered.”

 

http://www.christiantoday.com/article/bishops.were.urged.not.to.apologise.fully.for.child.sex.abuse.to.minimise.liability.risk/93673.htm (CHRISTIAN TODAY)

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http://www.premier.org.uk/News/UK/Church-of-England-told-bishops-not-to-apologise-to-victims-of-sex-abuse

Church of England told bishops ‘not to apologise’ to victims of sex abuse

Mon 22 Aug 2016

By Sam Hailes

PREMIER

A confidential document has revealed bishops in the Church of England were told to only give partial apologies – if at all – to victims of sex abuse.

The guidance, marked “strictly confidential” and circulated to senior bishops was written in 2007 and replaced last year. It warned bishops to be wary of meeting victims and warned of “unintended effect of accepting legal liability” for abuse within their diocese. It said bishops should be careful to avoid “inadvertently” conceding guilt.

According to the guidance, which has been seen by the Daily Telegraph, only apologies with wording approved by lawyers, PR advisers and insurers should be given.

Survivors of abuse accused the Church of “acting like Pontius Pilate” and said the document demonstrated a culture of dishonesty and “blanking” victims.

The news follows a damning independent review of the Church’s handling of abuse by Garth Moore, a priest in the 1970s.

It highlighted how a teenager known as “Joe” revealed his ordeal to leading vicars who then claimed not to remember anything. The report criticised the Bishop of Durham, the Rt Rev Paul Butler, the Church’s then head of safeguarding for being “reckless” after he cut all contact with Joe, following advice from insurers, after he began legal action.

A Church of England spokesperson told the Daily Telegraph: “The Church of England published new guidance in 2015 emphasising that: ‘The pastoral response to alleged victims and survivors is of top priority, and needs to be separated as far as possible from the management processes for the situation, and from legal and insurance responses.

“That superseded all previous advice and ensures that the pastoral needs of survivors must never be neglected and pastoral contact can continue whatever legal issues exist.”


Thinking Anglicans Post-Synod Thoughts On The Bishop Bell Case – Thursday July 14 2016

http://www.thinkinganglicans.org.uk/archives/007315.html#comments

 

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Further points on the George Bell case

Updated Thursday evening

We reported in March that the George Bell Group had sent a letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury, and also issued a press statement: George Bell’s naming as a paedophile is challenged today by a group of lawyers, academics, politicians and senior Church figures. The challenge was in a report published here as a web page, and also as a PDF file.

Yesterday, the Bishop of Durham, Paul Butler, Church of England lead bishop on safeguarding, issued this letter to the George Bell Group: Further points on the George Bell case.

Update

Several questions were asked at General Synod on Friday 8 July relating to the George Bell case. The questions and answers are printed in this booklet, but for convenience they are copied below the fold. In addition I have transcribed the supplementary questions and answers from this recording; they are shown indented.

Mr David Lamming (St Edmundsbury & Ipswich) to ask the Church Commissioners:
Q17 It is understood that the Church Commissioners paid, or contributed to, the £15,000 paid in settlement of a civil claim regarding alleged sexual abuse by the late Bishop George Bell. Will the Church Commissioners please (i) confirm the accuracy of this information and, if others (whether insurers, the Diocese of Chichester or any other accountable Church institution) contributed to the settlement, state the amount(s) of their respective contributions, and (ii) state whether, in addition, the Church Commissioners made any, and if so what, financial contribution to (a) the complainant’s legal costs (including any success fee) and expenses, and/or (b) the costs and expenses (including the fees of experts) of the Diocese of Chichester incurred in relation to the said claim.

Sir Andreas Whittam Smith to reply as First Church Estates Commissioner:
A The Commissioners contributed to the settlement of the claim, but did not pay the whole. The damages paid were £16,800 and the claimant’s legal costs were £15,000. In addition, the Diocese of Chichester’s costs were £18,000. These figures include the costs of a medical expert instructed by the claimant and another instructed by the Diocese of Chichester. The Commissioners paid £29,800 towards the damages and costs, with the balance being funded by a donation from a private individual, not an insurer or another Church institution.

David Lamming: I thank Sir Andreas for his answer and for the additional information given. But in the light of the answer will you say whether insurers were asked to contribute to the settlement and if so whether they declined to do so, who in fact was the putative defendant on whose behalf the settlement was reached with the claimant, and I am assuming that court proceedings were not issued, and will you please state the particular speciality of the medical experts instructed respectively by the claimants and by the diocese of Chichester.

Sir Andreas Whittam Smith: Thank you. You are accrediting the Church Commissioners with far more involvement in this case than you might think. We have a discretion to pay bishops’ costs as you will probably know and we make judgments on what costs to bear depending on a variety of factors. In this case the answers are really clear in my answer; I don’t think I can add to them. There are the damages, there are the claimant’s legal costs, and there are the diocese of Chichester’s costs and we paid £29,800 of those and a private individual came forward, not an insurer, and paid the rest. I can’t add to that.

Martin Sewell (Rochester): There’s a very simple question on the table: Did any insurer decline to indemnify?

Sir Andreas Whittam Smith: I’ve no idea whether an insurer was involved. We were not told about such a case.

Martin Sewell: Who would know if an insurer …

Sir Andreas Whittam Smith: The diocese of Chichester would know.

Martin Sewell: Will that information be made available?

Sir Andreas Whittam Smith: I cannot speak for the diocese of Chichester, I’m afraid.

Mr Martin Sewell (Rochester) to ask the Chair of the House of Bishops:
Q32 The Chichester Diocese publishes on its website a comprehensive 54 page report by Dame Elizabeth Butler Sloss into its handling of the cases of sexual predators Roy Cotton and Colin Pritchard; that report balances victim confidentiality with the public interest in having confidence in due and proper process. Given the continuing public concern at the handling of the case of Bishop Bell, will the Church now issue a comprehensive explanation of why transparency can apply in one case but not the other?

Mr David Lamming (St Edmundsbury & Ipswich) to ask the Chair of the House of Bishops:
Q33 In answer to a question from Miss Prudence Dailey (Q.13) at the February 2016 Group of Sessions concerning the response of the Church to allegations made against the late Bishop George Bell, the Bishop of Durham stated that it was “legally impermissible for the Church to disclose any evidence used in the settlement [of the claim against the Diocese of Chichester]” and that the law “rightly affords [the complainant] protection to safeguard the confidentiality of their deeply personal information.” In the light of
i. The call by the George Bell Group [1] for a proper review of both the process and the evidence that resulted in the statement issued by the Church of England media centre on 22 October 2015 effectively branding Bishop Bell as a paedophile;
ii. The Opinion by His Honour Alan Pardoe QC and Desmond Browne QC [2] that there are no legal constraints to disclosure of the evidence and documents (suitably redacted to preserve the complainant’s anonymity) that the Church considered before settling the claim; and iii. The fact that Dame Lowell Goddard has stated that “Bell’s guilt or innocence is not a critical aspect of this Inquiry, or of the Anglican investigation, or of the investigation’s case studies,” [3 and 3] so that any reliance by the Church that the Goddard Inquiry will investigate this issue is misplaced;
Will the House of Bishops now commission an independent inquiry as called for by the George Bell Group and, if not, why not?

The Bishop of Durham to reply as Lead Bishop for Safeguarding:
A I will take Questions 32 and 33 together. I refer both questioners to the statement issued by the Church of England on 28 June in which it was announced that an independent review of the handling of the George Bell case would be launched shortly. The House of Bishops practice guidance states that once all matters relating to any serious safeguarding situation have been completed, the Core Group should meet again to review the process and to consider what lessons can be learnt to improve safeguarding practice in the future. It will be for the independent reviewer to consider what evidence they deem to be relevant and publish in due course their view of any lessons learned from the Church’s handling of the case.
It should be noted that the Church has always recognised Bishop Bell’s principled stand in the Second World War and his contribution to peace but it also has a duty to listen to those who make allegations of abuse.

David Lamming: I thank the Bishop of Durham for his answer and for the announcement, post the date for submitting questions, that there is to be an independent review, not just a review by the Core Group. However the review announced on the 28th June is only into the processes used to inform the decision to settle the claim by the woman know as Carol, but the review will not be credible unless it examines all the evidence, and in the House of Bishops [sic] the 30th June the Bishop of Chelmsford said “The Church remains satisfied of the credibility of Carol’s allegation.” Will the Bishop, and perhaps on behalf of his successor, the Bishop of Bath and Wells, please now acknowledge that the terms of reference of the review must enable the reviewer both to review the process and to look at all the evidence including that that was not looked at by the Core Group.

Bishop of Durham: Thank you for that supplementary. The independent reviewer has yet to be appointed, the terms of reference will have to be agreed with that independent reviewer, and it is that this will be around the process that was followed, and when that reviewer is there then that’s what they will be briefed to do.

Martin Sewell: You’ve answered two questions together. I’m going to have to refer. I refer first of all to Alan Pardoe’s opinion and Desmond Brown’s opinion, there are no legal restraints to disclosure of the evidence and documents suitably redacted to preserve the complainant’s anonymity. I refer back to comparing the Bell case to the Cotton and Pritchard case saying that in the one case that is already out there on the Chichester website it balances victim confidentiality with public interest in having confidence in due and proper process. So I then ask why does it apply to one case and not the other? It’s a very simple question. You tell us that there’s going to be a review. We don’t need to know if the review knows how to do this. We need to know if there is a core competence in the Church’s people to do this sort of thing and to understand the law on confidentiality and how it applies in each and every case. We can’t assume that tht competence is there because we’ve not seen it demonstrated.

Chair: Do you want to put that into a question then please?

Martin Sewell: Yes, it’s very simple. Will you issue a comprehensive explanation of why transparency can apply in one case, that’s Cotton and Pritchard, and not in the other, Bishop Bell. It’s a very simple question.

Bishop of Durham: The simple reality is you may quote two lawyers and I could quote others, which I won’t, who would disagree with that opinion. The review will take place and there is not an exact equivalence between the Butler-Sloss report and how the Bell case was handled and the report that has come out.

Miss Prudence Dailey (Oxford) to ask the Chair of the House of Bishops:
Q36 In the light of the Bishop Bell case, has any consideration been given to the view that offering pastoral support to the complainant, independently investigating the complaint, dispassionately evaluating the evidence, and simultaneously managing crises whilst protecting the good name of the Church are incompatible objectives; and will consideration now be given to establishing a properly resourced, consistent, professional and independent central complaint handling body, removing the responsibility from dioceses with potentially variable expertise and processes?

The Bishop of Durham to reply as Lead Bishop for Safeguarding:
A Developing a more consistent and professional approach to safeguarding across the dioceses and nationally is one of our key priorities as a church, recognising of course that good safeguarding is fundamentally something that takes place in a parish context. There are a number of key elements to achieving this through national policy and guidance, regulations, training and quality assurance, including the independent audits being conducted across all dioceses during 2016 and 2017. These audits provide an important benchmark and areas for further improvement for dioceses and the national church. The intention to develop a standards based approach will include how we provide pastoral and other support to those who are accused as well as those who make complaints of abuse. Indeed a recent case review conducted by the National Safeguarding Team has highlighted this very issue. The Church of England must remain committed to responding to non-current abuse and abuse in the present day, as well as building a safer church for the future based on prevention.

Prudence Dailey: Has any consideration been given to the potential for conflict of interest in the Church carrying out the various different functions alluded to in my question in relation to the Bishop Bell case?

Bishop of Durham: Quite specifically in all these the history of conflict of interest is always taken into consideration. Every core group has to work at that particular bit on every example that we have.

Simon Butler (Southwark): In view of the fact that many of the allegations are made against clergy, will the bishop, or his successor, consult with the House of Clergy Standing Committee about procedures for putting in place future support and the work around those who have been accused of abuse?

Bishop of Durham: Thank you for that question. One of the areas that has caused some concern is the level of support for clergy when they face allegations and that is firmly on the agenda to seek to make sure that they are given adequate pastoral support when going through such processes because they are deeply painful and difficult.

 

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 14 July 2016 at 9:31am BST

Comments

If “Carol” wanted to meet with the diocese in private to discuss her accusation, it’s absolutely right that she remain anonymous.

The moment she lodged a civil claim, however, that anonymity wreaks havoc with the justice system. It’s the sole reason we can’t see the evidence against Bell, and is being used to shield the diocese and church from scrutiny. Even if the law doesn’t strictly require this, they can say it does, and use it to deflect all criticism. Even more disturbingly (and I’m emphatically speaking generally here), it prevents false accusers from being exposed.

Anonymity’s justified on the basis of trauma, but it’s absurdly inconsistent: if a person alleged that a bishop kidnapped them and tortured them in a basement, they’d enjoy no right to anonymity; if they alleged a bishop groped them briefly at a party, bang, lifelong gag order.

Making a claim for damages is a public act: that act will always carry a cost (such as going to trial and being cross-examined), and a person who voluntarily takes it should accept open justice as part of the process.

Posted by: James Byron on Friday, 15 July 2016 at 1:08pm BST

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