Tag Archives: Diocese of Chichester

JANUARY 23 2021 – “THE MAN BEHIND JUSTIN WELBY” – THE SPECTATOR + “HONESTY, TRUTH AND JUSTICE” – “THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND AND SAFEGUARDING: THE PURSUIT OF EXCELLENCE” – ‘SURVIVING CHURCH’ – STEPHEN PARSONS

Canon David Porter

Photo: archbishopofcanterbury.org

Ysenda Maxtone-Graham

The man behind Justin Welby

From magazine issue: 23 January 2021

In the leafy seclusion of the Lambeth Palace grounds, Archbishop Justin Welby goes for his daily jog. He used to run along the Thames and over the bridges until Canon David Porter, his Chief of Staff, put a stop to it. David Porter grew up in Belfast in the 1960s and he knows how easy a target a lone high-profile jogger can be.

As well as being Welby’s physical protector, Canon Porter has taken on the role of his bureaucratic gatekeeper. ‘No one comes to Justin except through David’ — that’s the impression I get from everyone I’ve spoken to who has tried to contact the Archbishop recently. ‘Nothing happens without David’s knowledge and permission.’ If you’ve ever wondered why and when Lambeth Palace chooses to weigh in on political matters, remember the influence of Porter, a member of the Labour party. Think of the Archbishop’s most recent protest, against the proposed cuts in the foreign aid budget. It’s Brownie-points Lambeth in action: putting the obvious moral case without having to address the complications and balances that the cabinet has to consider and resolve.

Hardly a month goes by without a political intervention of this kind, be it a planned citizens’ assembly in Coventry to avert a no-deal departure from the EU, or an intervention in support of Marcus Rashford’s free school meals campaign. You can be sure of Porter’s involvement when any of these initiatives contain his watchword: reconciliation.

So who is this bald man with a smile, a paunch and a sense of humour (Twitter name @baldynotion) who shapes Lambeth’s agenda? Aged 63, he has a BA in theology from the London School of Theology and an MA in peace studies from the University of Ulster, but he is not ordained. He’s not even an Anglican. He is an Anabaptist. He and his theologian wife, Dr Fran Porter, worship at a Baptist church near their home in the Midlands. Porter commutes, spending weekday nights in a bachelor pad in Lambeth Palace.

He was drawn to the Anabaptists when he heard John Paul Lederach, a professor of peacebuilding studies at a Mennonite college in Indiana, talking about enabling reconciliation through conversation and deep listening. That inspired his own career as a reconciliation-facilitator and by all accounts he did good work in Northern Ireland in the 1990s, getting Protestant evangelicals to take Catholics seriously during the peace process.

[RWS Note: Sir William Fittall – Home Office, ENA, Cabinet Office and Northern Ireland Office (1975-2002). Secretary General, Church of England (2002-2015) https://richardwsymonds.wordpress.com/2021/01/09/january-9-2021-from-the-archives-october-21-2015-telephone-conversation-between-church-of-england-secretary-general-sir-william-fittall-and-martyn-percy-dean-of-christ-church-oxford/ ]

He has said that the kind of reconciliation he aims for is ‘not the smooth, dove-of-peace, hands together, spell-of-peace approach; more the hard-edged, jagged, confrontational, in-your-face, honest-to-God struggle with all that drives us apart as human beings’. ‘Nothing happens without David Porter’s knowledge and permission’

How’s that going at Lambeth? It started well, with Welby and Porter jetting off together to Anglican provinces all over Africa, where music and dancing greeted them wherever they went as they did their best to prevent the most extreme anti-gay African Primates from breaking away from the Anglican Communion in disgust at the behaviour of the gay bishops in the US.

So far, so good: the Anglican Communion is still holding together, just. No Archbishop can countenance it breaking apart on their watch. And the next Lambeth Conference, where 880 disagreeing bishops will convene at the University of Kent, is safely postponed to next year, thanks to the pandemic. Meanwhile, below the surface, a running sore is festering. When it comes to this, Porter’s reconciliatory work is not going so well.

In 2019 Justin Welby said that ‘as soon as it can be arranged in the diary’ he would personally meet the victims of John Smyth, the abusive C of E barrister who chaired the Iwerne summer Christian camps in the 1970s and took boys home to cane them in his shed till they bled. This meeting has still not taken place. Welby knew Smyth at Iwerne and they exchanged occasional Christmas cards. What Smyth victim Graham (whom I spoke to; not his real name) desperately wants to know is: what really happened after he’d reported the abuse to the Diocese of Ely in 2012? Did Welby, as he claims, tell the bishop to tell the police, and follow this up to make sure he had? The victims want answers, but nothing happened after the abuse was reported and this question hangs unanswered over the Archbishop: what did he do or not do in 2013 that allowed Smyth to continue abusing for another four years?

What better reconciliatory challenge for Porter to get his teeth into — to enable the seething, bewildered Smyth victims to sit down with the Archbishop, who seems reluctant and terrified to face the situation. Yet it seems to Graham that Porter has been stringing them along for four years. Porter emails them suggesting quiet reconciliatory side-chats with him: not the point at all. At one point he said that a victims’ meeting with Welby could go ahead, but only with a list of pre-agreed questions, and not at all if they accused Welby of lying; and that there must be a ‘dry run’ of the meeting first, attended by several senior figures including bishops who were at Iwerne, plus a QC, who would then be at the real meeting with the Archbishop to witness it and make sure they didn’t deviate.

This is not quite the ‘hard-edged, jagged, confrontational, in-your-face, honest-to-God’ style of thrashing out that we would expect from the master-reconciliator. But then, it’s not a political matter; there are no Tories to attack here and no opportunity for moral grandstanding. So perhaps that’s why this matter is fairly low down in his inbox.

WRITTEN BY Ysenda Maxtone-Graham

TOPICS IN THIS ARTICLE Society Justin WelbyChurch Of England David Porter

“HONESTY, TRUTH AND JUSTICE” – “THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND AND SAFEGUARDING: THE PURSUIT OF EXCELLENCE” – ‘SURVIVING CHURCH’ – STEPHEN PARSONS

The Church of England has been rife with safeguarding crises recently.  Those of us who watch these sagas as they unfold on the internet or in the Press have a hunger for one thing.   We long to see the power to engage in independent scrutiny being entrusted to people of high professional expertise.  They will then proceed to analyse the people and institutions affected by these events, before delivering a calm clear verdict as to what has been really going on.  This forensic examination will then perhaps point to the way that the affected institution, the Church, can deal with the past safeguarding event.  It will involve successfully learning what needs to be learnt and providing healing to those wounded by the past.  In this way the institution and its safeguarding victims can be helped to move into the future. 

Examples of safeguarding excellence do exist. I offer three examples as a gold standard which the Church of England frequently fails to reach.  The examples of safeguarding excellence I mention share in common the fact those who provided it were writing from positions of complete professional independence.  Attempts by the Church to achieve the same level of independent scrutiny seem often doomed to fail, as ‘marking your own homework’ is not a good basis for providing independent and just outcomes.   In summary, the three I bring forward are the IICSA reports, the Elliot Review on the case of the Church’s treatment of one survivor and the work of Thirtyone:eight, exemplified by the recent report on the Crowded House.

Each of these reports was marked by high levels of professional independence, coupled with a real understanding of all the issues involved.  I have often referred to the fact that expertise in safeguarding is spread out over many disciplines.  It needs some understanding of law, psychology and the social sciences.  Abuse taking place in a church context also requires a working knowledge of theology and church life.  Few people have all these skills.  In an ideal world the so-called ‘expert’ would need to consult widely to ensure that any knowledge and skill deficits are made up when necessary.  A readiness by an expert to consult other professionals will take a certain degree of humility on the part of an examiner.  Such humility is not what we seem to find among the in-house professional people the Church employs.  They appear always to assume that their previous professional skills, such as those gained in police work or social work, are quite adequate to do the complex task of examining safeguarding events that take place in the Church.

With these qualities of independence and expertise in our minds, we may turn to two ongoing safeguarding incidents in the Church on the go at present.   One is the reporting of a incident about abuse, stretching back thirty years, involving John Smyth and the Iwerne camps.  The disclosure by a survivor was made in 2012.   This story is one that involves our own Archbishop of Canterbury and one of his senior advisers, Canon David Porter (a layman).  The story is set out in The Spectator last Thursday 21st January.  A point that the author, Ysenda Maxtone Graham, makes very powerfully in the article is that the Archbishop is deeply beholden to this adviser for many of his public utterances on matters of contemporary concern.   It is not, however, these statements on a range of public issues that concern us here.  It is the way that the Archbishop seems to be cocooned and protected by Porter from engaging properly with safeguarding scandals that have hit the Church throughout his primacy.  One particular safeguarding issue that Canon Porter seems to be shielding the Archbishop from is that involving John Smyth.  This disturbing failure by the Archbishop to engage properly with this story is made worse by the fact that the abuser was personally known to him in his younger days.  Although the relationship between the two is not thought to have been close, there is another fact which often gets overlooked.  The Smyth scandal is particularly shocking in the way that it has been buried in the minds and memories of a large group of alumni of the Iwerne camps over a long period.  Among this privileged group of ex-public school boys who attended the camps, many personally known to Welby, are effectively in some cases witnesses to past criminal activity.  Most have remained silent to this day.  The Augean stables of Smyth’s behaviour in England and Africa need to be cleansed.  The Archbishop and many of his old camper friends need to begin telling us all that they remember.  Instead of that, as the Spectator article suggests, David Porter has advised the Archbishop to do absolutely nothing.    His passivity and silence are causing the victims a great deal of additional anguish.  In a Channel 4 interview, the Archbishop promised to meet with John Smyth survivors.  So far, he has failed to do so.  We are left to suspect that he understands too much about their suffering and is unable to face them.  Whatever the reasons for this non-engagement with Smyth survivors, it also does not inspire confidence in the Archbishop’s personal readiness to offer a lead in the total arena of Church safeguarding.  The two things that the Smyth affair needs are those we have already indicated.   One is a clear knowledge of all the facts,  Then we need to gather all the needed resources to help and plot the path forward for the future.  Expressions of regret uttered at General Synod are no substitute for the kind of energetic engagement that is required.  We need to see the light of honesty, truth and justice being shed on these shameful areas in the Church’s past.  So far we do not appear to see real concern on the part of a leader to help the Church forward out of this tragic and damaging episode in the history of the Church of England.

Personal reputations and possibly raw fear are being aroused when [with] the whole Smyth story, and this festers away at the heart of the Church.  A block on further scrutiny of the episode seems to be what is recommended by lawyers and advisers.  Another way of putting it is to say that up till now the people who could throw further light on the story have been impeded from doing so lest vested interests and inconvenient truths be exposed.  Clearly there is a need here for independent scrutiny.  We will see whether Keith Makin is able to deliver a report that measures up to what IICSA, Thirtyone:eight or Ian Elliot might have provided. 

When we look the other ongoing saga in the Church which cries out for independent scrutiny, the Christ Church affair, once again we encounter blocks on expertise and independent justice.  There are simply too many unanswered questions and apparent failures of process in the CDM report that I have been allowed to read.  This utilises the College investigation, written by Kate Wood, as the basis for a separate Church CDM process.   I have already pointed out that there are bound to be serious concerns if people with known enmity to Martyn Percy are allowed to take a prominent part in his legalised persecution.  There are above all, real problems in allowing one of the original College complainants, Canon Ward, anywhere near the Church’s CDM process. Did not the Bishop of Oxford see immediately that Ward’s role as a CDM instigator in this case should not be allowed?    I do not propose to repeat all the queries that I have already had about the independent status of the College investigator. Since writing my earlier comments, I have discovered that Ms Wood worked for the Diocese of Chichester in a safeguarding role.  This was in addition to her working relationship with the NST over the Whitsey report.  Even if she was indeed in ignorance of the Percy affair and knew nothing of his active support for the memory of George Bell, her closeness to others who would have known, gives a strong appearance of a conflict of interest.

Other queries from a reading of the Wood report are, as yet, unanswered.  Witness A, when talking about the episode in the vestry, is recorded by Ms Wood to have exclaimed:  ‘I knew it was a massive deal. People wanted the final blow. I was thinking is this important enough for that to happen?  Could this be the killer blow? ‘ These were the actual words of the witness when she/he first heard of the allegation against the Dean from the ‘victim’.  Ms Wood showed absolutely no curiosity about what these words were implying.  Her accuracy in recording interviews seems impeccable but the absence of any comment or follow-up question is surprising.   An ordinary person hearing these words in the context in which they were uttered, would conclude that the witness might already be biased and possibly tempted to ‘big up’ the incident.  Speaking of witnesses, there is a further potential witness to the episode who was mentioned in the report but not questioned.  A further cause for disquiet is that there is also no explanation over the truncated time frame of both processes.  The appointment of the investigator, the conduct of the enquiry and writing up of the report all took place in a matter of a few days.  Did the investigator need no time for a preliminary background enquiry over the case before accepting, or was she already well known to one of the accusers among the Christ Church censors or lawyers?    It is also suggested that the Oxfordshire police who took the trouble to visit the college, the Cathedral and the site of the alleged harassment did a far more thorough job.  The police dismissed the accusation.  Ms Wood seems to have done most of her investigation remotely. 

Independence and detailed scrutiny of all the facts are possible when writing reports about past safeguarding incidents.  We have the expertise of IICSA lawyers working collaboratively with other experts, the team of examiners at Thirtyone:eight and the vast experience of Ian Elliot to show us the way things can be done.  Sadly, as the Spectator article and the Percy CDM papers demonstrate, the Church is content to allow itself to use flawed processes.  As long as this continues, enormous damage will be done both to individuals and institutions.  Safeguarding will always involve the telling of truth and that process will involve the pain of metanoia.

COMMENTS

Thoughts on “The Church of England and Safeguarding: the Pursuit of Excellence”

  1. Faith I have reluctantly come to the view that the CofE and NST does not care a jot about poor practices or malpractice. The lack of due process for Smyth victims is telling. I cannot imagine an NST, a Lambeth Palace or a Bishop putting their collective hands up and saying, “we need some external help, expertise and scrutiny here”. Pride, the hubris of the NST and the vanity-fear axis of most bishops will ensure injustice and a culture of incompetence and negligence continues. My view is that as long as there is an appearance of process, that’s enough for the NST. Like a corrupt police force from a bygone era, as long as someone gets arrested and imprisoned, they can presume that people think the job is getting done. Dean Percy’s case is instructive. The NST have all been pursuing him for almost a year now, and this is pure institutional bullying. As in the case of victims of Smyth, so with Percy. There is not the slightest semblance of an fair or just process. Stephen Parsons’ article is brilliant. But it does put a spotlight on a dirty, rather disgusting side to the CofE and its practices.
    1. Kate I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of survivors will be reporting various bishops to the independent panel, once it is announced, for failures to follow safeguarding practices. I suspect many bishops realise this and that the panel will either be delayed or its terms of reference set to avoid scrutiny of several black holes.
  2. Rowland Wateridge Two comments, intended to be helpful, not contentious. During the currency of Keith Makin’s investigation fresh allegations and additional personalities have appeared in the saga, extending what was always a substantial brief. As a very senior social worker, Mr Makin must be well-equipped to undertake this formidable task independently. However, unlike IICSA or the police, he does not possess legal powers to compel witnesses (except, possibly, to the extent that all C of E personnel are expected to co-operate in his inquiry), but there is no constraint on others choosing not to do so – although inferences might be drawn in the case of people staying silent. Oxfordshire Police have carried out, essentially, a criminal investigation at Christ Church, as Stephen states, taking all the steps that one would expect, ascertaining facts and visiting the scene of the allegation as basic standard police procedure. The CDM, however, is concerned with a different matter, essentially alleged clerical misconduct. The two issues are different. There is, of course, the added complication of the separate and additional action being taken alongside the CDM in the Christ Church Internal Tribunal proceedings relating to the same subject matter – in itself an anomaly.

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  1. David Pennant Metanoia rather than paranoia. A good aim.
  2. Petra Unthinkingly I had always assumed that Canon David Porter was a senior ordained Anglican cleric. I am shocked to learn that he is an Anabaptist and seems to have taken over the Archbishop of Canterbury’s brain and soul. He seems to be the equivalent of Dominic Cummings who was not a member of the Conservative Party, loathed MPs, but had immense power over the PM. It explains so much, such as the Archbishop’s comment last year that church buildings are non essential, public worship is non essential, receiving communion at Easter is non essential, unless you are ordained and have a kitchen in which to stream a celebration online. No requirement to share the body and blood of our Lord.
    The Archbishop will be going on sabbatical ere long so I can see him holding out for some considerable time. Appalling.
  3. Jane Chevous I just cannot understand why it is so difficult for Justin Welby to meet with the Smyth victim. There is at least one other survivor waiting for that personal meeting with the Archbishop about his case, and a long overdue apology. It’s incomprehensible. The important background you provide, Stephen, and in the Spectator article, actually make it even harder to understand. If David Porter has such experience of conflict resolution, why is he unable to use it in this context? I don’t really see any issue with Kate Woods, though. As her testimony to the IICSA investigation show, she has extensive experience in investigating safeguarding concerns. I understood she is not employed by any dioceses, but acts as an independent consultant. That is the same case with 31:8, who I understand have also worked with a number of dioceses. I am reluctant to comment on confidential matters regarding the case which I don’t think should be brought into the public domains. Suffice it to say as I support the call for both Martyn and the complainant to have a fair hearing, I think we need to be careful not to make it more difficult for that to happen. I was also disappointed that you used inverted commas when referring to the victim/complainant. Please, let’s not minimise her complaint or leave her feeling we support Martyn but not her. I don’t know what happened in the vestry any more than the rest of us, but I do know that it take an enormous amount of courage to report these matters, and is incredibly distressing to have your claim debated on public like this. she deserves out support as much as Martyn does, and I am sad if we cannot provide it.
  4. JoshuaA Is it beyond the bounds of possibility that the reason Welby won’t meet with Smyth victims is that he himself is one?
  5. Stephen Parsons I believe ++Justin graduated in 1977 and so was a year or two older than the oldest of Smyth’s victims. But he will have known the networks around (and protecting) Smyth and Jonathan Fletcher. There were dozens of people that should come forward to speak to Keith Makin. It will interesting to see the level of cooperation that he receives.
  6. Faith Jane, my understanding of the Percy case is that he was referred to as ‘perpetrator’ early on, and the other party as ‘victim’ by the complainant. This is the “story” Percy’s detractors want us to adopt. But, and this is really important, the complainants in this case are Prof. Ward and others. The woman did not use any of the complaint or the conciliation processes open to her under the college or cathedral HR or disciplinary apparatus. Rather, she was and has continued to be used by others who simply want to cause damage to the Dean. The actual testimony of this woman was that she did NOT want to complain, go to the police or even felt that her encounter in the vestry (and which the Dean denies) was especially noteworthy. But she had her story hijacked for other purposes by people who are not defending her. Rather, they are attacking the Dean. The woman has just become a weapon in their hands. This is the real abuse, is it not? A bit like warring parents in divorce courts, where one parent makes an appalling and unfounded allegation about the parenting of their former partner/spouse. The child/ren just become collateral in this. Justice is not served. Nor truth. Nor the child/ren. In the Percy case, the woman did not want to report anything. She kept saying so. One suspects that is because she was uncertain as to what took place. But since she mentioned the encounter to enemies of the Dean, she now finds herself signed up to three or four different legal tribunals, each of which will involve her being investigated and cross examined. There is no doubt that these tribunals were not for her benefit. They are only intended to cripple the Dean. Personally, I think she really IS being abused now – made to go through tribunals that will be lengthy and probably some time away. And for what? Her allegation was “he touched my hair”. The tribunals will doubtless consider this allegation. But as we know from normal court cases, both the defendant and the accuser can expect some searching questions about their private life and conduct. The Dean’s detractors may savour this – if the Dean has got a string of similar offences behind him. Knowing his reputation I think that unlikely. But I guess we should all keep an open mind. But the Dean’s enemies won’t have given a moment of thought or care for this woman, who is almost bound to have her own private life and her conduct scrutinised, as she will be the accuser. It is unfortunate that this woman talked to people who have now decided to use her against the Dean. Her interests will not now be served until there has been a proper independent investigation. That will have to deal with all the material Kate Wood chose to ignore or refused to report. I don’t see this ending well for anyone involved.
  7. Stephen Parsons Thank you Faith for your astute observations. Some of your account has been brought to my attention since writing my piece, so it is good to have your material as an addendum to what I was able to gather from reading the CDM and the Wood report. You have evidently read it with a great attention to detail.
  8. Jane Chevous I will not discuss confidential details of this case which should not be brought into the public domain. The Kate Woods report is not a public document so I don’t consider it is proper, or serves justice, to debate its content here. I agree that it makes this whole process more damaging for everyone that it is caught up in this very public conflict between Martyn Percy, the college and the church. I am deeply disappointed and concerned that people who wish to support Martyn, feel it is ethical to do so by trying to minimise her experiences and undermine her complaint and Kate Woods investigation. That is falling into the kind of behaviour that we have exposed others in authority for doing, and continue to do, for example in the Smyth and Fletcher cases. I am certain that she has made a clear complaint of sexual harassment that could indicate a safeguarding issue and this needs to be properly investigated, for the sake of everyone concerned. We should be careful here not to interfere with the possibility of a fair hearing.

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  1. Faith Jane – the issue with Kate Wood’s investigation lies in its flaws, bias and evidential shortcomings. Her report has been shared with 65 members of Christ Church Governing Body. It has also been hawked around to journalists by enemies of the Dean. The CDM against the Dean was also sent to journalists. Leaving the leaks against the Dean, I can’t agree that it is fair, moral or just for Kate Wood and members of Chapter to brand the Dean as being a ‘high risk’ and ‘medium risk’ for safeguarding. That is public. The Dean is currently not permitted to enter his own Cathedral unless supervised by a member of the Chapter who has made the complaint against him. No person – staff, student, friend, colleague – is allowed into the Deanery unless accompanied by another person. This is all public as Christ Church have issued press statements and written to everyone they can. The Dean was told that having coffee with a friend, and even seeing his adult son (28?) was a “breach of safeguarding”. All of this is a clear breach of his human rights. Plainly, Kate Wood did not conduct a fair or impartial investigation. You only have to read it to see that. The conclusion of Janet Fife’s article on thus website signs off with a quote from Lord Carlile: “The (NST) process used against George lacked independence and objectivity. They provided inadequate opportunities for George’s case to be heard, and no opportunity to challenge their witnesses such as they were. There should be root and branch reform, to provide a proper investigative and disciplinary process comparable with that for doctors and other professional groups. ”As with Abp. George Carey, so with Martyn Percy. Nobody I know has the slightest confidence whatsoever in the NST. Kate Wood is an unlicensed, unregulated and unaccountable consultant – and her work on the Percy case reflects the hopes and views of those who commissioned and paid for her work. He who pays the piper calls the tune. Wood has duly delivered to her client. But her work had nothing to do with justice or fairness.
    1. Jane Chevous Faith, I hear that you feel strongly about this, and I respect that we have different views and perspectives. Like I said, I just don’t think that this is the place to discuss the confidential content of a report that isn’t in the public domain, and so I won’t comment on that. Certainly I agree with you that and safeguarding management undertaken pending the outcome of investigation, should be proportionate and not breach human rights. I am concerned that in appearing to discredit Kate Woods and her report, this is reducing the chance that the complainant and Martyn Percy will get a fair hearing. I would be surprised if a freelancer like Kate Woods, with her professional background and experience, would risk her reputation by producing a biased or inaccurate report. Having worked as a freelancer, I would say you make even more effort to produce work of highest integrity and quality. And her work e.g. on the Peter Ball case (in IICSA evidence) does demonstrate diligence and was clearly significant in bringing the truth of the church’s cover up of this case to light. I have many criticisms of the core group process, both from my own current experience, and hearing about that of others. But I do still recognise that the NST members are professionals with considerable experience, trying to do a safeguarding role in a very challenging environment. Their role is set up to be entirely risk management; the CDM process is a blunt and ineffective instrument; in cases where there isn’t a statutory decision-making body, such as this one, there really isn’t an appropriate place for a finding of fact to be made.
      That is one of the major reforms I hope we can campaign for, as the core groups process and the CDM are reviewed.
  2. Gilo There is no chance at all that a ‘fair hearing’ can happen. Not until the Kate Wood review and much else besides is in daylight and an independent judicial review of Christ Church governance and culture takes place. Any attempt to deal with this latest chapter as separate from the rest of the long and bitter saga is flawed in my view – as it fails to take into account that many of the same driving forces are involved. If Faith’s insights are faithful to the facts, then Christ Church is operating a kind of ‘rogue state’ in safeguarding terms. And a high calibre judge with no attachment to Christ Church, Winckworth Sherwood, Kate Wood, NST, Luther Pendragon, Nobody’s Friends, etc should investigate. Christ Church has sounded a thoroughly toxic setup for some years now. But someone of the stature of Baroness Hale would get to the heart of what has been going on amongst the cast of players. It is very unfortunate that the college has chosen to push an alleged victim into the pathway of all this – as seems to be what has happened. And deeply unfortunate that a different approach (internal college HR) might have been used in a more balanced way for a much fairer resolution for all. A leap to CDM and NST core group accompanied by a leak to Mail on Sunday by one of the Governing Body members does not paint a picture of a college/cathedral acting with much care or wisdom. And it is unfortunate too that the college or Kate Wood (?) has chosen to place restrictions on the Dean that one might usually associate with someone on the sex offenders register with electronic tag and police record and prison sentence behind him! If this has been sanctioned by Kate Wood – I would hope the Church would take a look at whether it is appropriate to use her services again. I am already aware that critical questions have been raised to the NST and a former lead bishop about Wood in relation to lack of proper process and diligence in another case. The former Director of Safeguarding and MACSAS are aware of these questions. The whole of the Christ Church scandal needs daylight.
  3. David Lamming The Governing Body of Christ Church will now be on the back foot following trustees’ receipt today of a letter from the Director of Regulatory Services of the Charity Commission questioning the decision to set up a second tribunal, and, in particular: “seeking further information and assurances from the members of the Governing Body about why establishing a Tribunal is:
    • in the best interests of the charity and its beneficiaries.
    • a responsible use of the charity’s resources.
    We will also examine how, when reaching this decision, the members of the Governing
    Body:
    • took account of our published guidance and previous regulatory advice; and
    • identified and managed any conflicts of interest and / or loyalty .”The letter adds: “This is not an exhaustive list. Full details of the information and assurances we require will be set out in a separate letter to the charity’s registered main contact.”In the light of this letter, which will undoubtedly receive publicity in tomorrow’s newspapers, the setting up of the tribunal must surely be paused until the Charity Commission have completed their inquiry and published its outcome. Moreover, it is surely ironic that the letter should be questioning the way the members of the Governing Body, as trustees of the charity, have fulfilled their fiduciary duties, after 41 of them wrote to the Charity Commission on 20 May 2020 alleging that Dean Percy was “not fit to remain a trustee”! In the light of that letter, the answer of the Governing Body to the question of how they “identified and managed any conflicts of interest and/or loyalty” will be of particular interest.
  4. Faith Agreed with Gilo. No chance of the Dean getting a fair hearing. Just look at the facts re
    Kate Wood’s Report: a. Kate Woods did not mention her involvement and potential conflict of interest in the botched safeguarding work on Bishop George Bell and Bishop Peter Ball. The Dean had been extensively involved in both cases, advocating for the restoration of the reputation of Bp. George Bell, and for greater professionalism in the CofE and NST in handling cases such as Bp. Peter Ball. Despite the Dean’s articles, blogs and media work in both cases, Ms. Woods claimed to have “no knowledge of the Dean”.
    b. The Dean expressed concern to Ms. Woods about the involvement of Canon Ward and/or Canon Foot in the allegation. Ms. Woods claimed that she had not met or heard of Canon Ward (Cathedral Safeguarding lead, and a commissioner for Woods’ work) nor met or heard of Canon Foot (Chapter Treasurer, despite Foot being identified as an interviewee of Ms. Woods’.
    c. There were concerns about the potential conflict of interest with the NST, and Elizabeth Pollard (aka ‘Polly’), who is a senior caseworker at the NST, and a close friend of the Senior Censor at Christ Church. Ms. Woods received a written note of this concern and yet it was redacted from her report.
    d. The Dean was not allowed to see Woods’ report. It is apparent Woods had: i. Redacted his evidence in key places.
    ii. Not interviewed witnesses who could corroborate the Dean’s account
    iii. Disregarded medical evidence (Dean’s extremely poor eyesight).
    iv. Not taken note of the sight-lines in the cathedral.
    v. Not constructed a time-line of events in her investigation.
    vi. Not been honest about some witnesses and their conflicts of interest.
    vii. Failed to follow College, Statute, ACAS and Cathedral standards and protocols for an investigation that could lead to a disciplinary hearing, and dismissal.
    viii. Had not noted the wearing of face-masks.
    ix. Had not enquired what the Chaplain meant by stating that the incident that had been curated could be “the final blow”.
    x. That the alleged victim had repeatedly stated she did not want to complain, or go to the police – but was remorselessly pressed to do so by other members of Chapter, which breaches their safeguarding training etc etc etc Shoddy work, basically.

JANUARY 21 2021 – “CHRIST CHURCH OXFORD JABS” – PRIVATE EYE – NO. 1539 [22 JANUARY – 4 FEB 2021]

“CHRIST CHURCH OXFORD JABS” – PRIVATE EYE – NO. 1539 [22 January – 4 Feb 2021]

THE governing body of Christ Church, Oxford, is nothing if not persistent in its efforts to force out the dean, Martyn Percy.

He was exonerated in 2019 by a hugely expensive tribunal under a senior high court judge; and then again last year by a Church of England “core group” investigation under the clergy discipline measure (CDM). Both inquisitions were at the behest of Canon Professor Graham Ward, a long-standing academic rival (Eye 1536). Professor Warlord has now put his name to a second CDM complaint, and last week the college’s governing body voted to initiate a second tribunal.

These actions follow an “independent investigation” by a safeguarding professional. Having no doubt scoured the country for the person best equipped to conduct an impartial inquiry, the governing body settled on Kate Wood – whose independence is in no way compromised by the fact that she works for the Church of England, and was involved with the core group that bungled an investigation into allegations against Bishop George Bell. As it happens, Percy was a member of the campaign group that overturned the work of that core group and rescued Bell’s reputation.

In spite of this and having worked for the Church for most of the past 12 years, Wood claims she had not heard of Percy, or the problems of Christ Church before this engagement, despite all the publicity. Her last investigative job for the Church was to inquire into the misdeeds of Bishop Victor Whitsey, a project on which she was managed by Elizabeth Pollard of the C of E’s national safeguarding team. As it also happens, Pollard is a very close friend of another key Christ Church governor, Professor Geraldine Johnson.

The new tribunal is investigating an allegation – which Percy denies – that he assaulted a verger at Christ Church by stroking her hair in the vestry after morning service. The alleged victim has acknowledged she was put under pressure to report the incident. “I knew it was a massive deal,” she said. “People wanted the final blow. I was thinking. ‘Is this important enough for that to happen?'”

Thames Valley police has investigated and said there is no case for further action. Wood neglected to visit Christ Church, or to interview witnesses offered by Percy, including the other person who was in the vestry at the time. Nevertheless, on the basis of her report, the college has decreed that Percy poses a “high” or “medium” risk of perpetuating further “sexual harassment or sexual assaults” on staff, students and minors.

The wily Censors of Christ Church not only engaged a C of E employee to conduct their investigation, they also engaged the C of E’s go-to legal firm, Winckworth Sherwood, which acts for no fewer than nine C of E dioceses, and for the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Anglican Consultative Council. It also provides a chair for the General Synod, and its alumni act as the church’s in-house solicitor and the senior law officer for the Province of Canterbury.

Winckworth Sherwood has little to gain from an early resolution to the Christ Church dispute. Partner Alison Talbot is acting for the Christ Church governing body, and her colleague Darren Oliver leads a team of no fewer than eight Winckworth Sherwood staff who work for the Diocese of Oxford. Coincidentally, Oliver is also registrar for the Diocese of Chichester – where Kate wood has her day job. Small world!

JANUARY 18 2021 – FROM THE ARCHIVES [MARCH 20 2018] – “CLERGY BURNT CHURCH FILES AFTER BEING ACCUSED OF COVERING UP ABUSE” – CHRISTIAN TODAY

CHRONOLOGY RESEARCH ARCHIVE

May 10 2003

“Warnings have been going on for 25 years” – Chichester Observer – May 10 2003 – Page 2. The article [and page number] were mentioned in the Carmi Report 2004 – along with the Saturn Centre Crawley Hospital [RWS unable to find article]. Only the Carmi recommendations became public in 2004 – not the detail. The detail – such as the 2001 conviction of Terence Banks – was not disclosed until 2014. Who withheld disclosure?

Richard W. Symonds – Researcher

Jan 24 2019

“It is still the case that there is a woman who came forward with a serious allegation … and this cannot be ignored or swept under the carpet”

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby

“A few of us took the Archbishop’s advice. We did not ignore the allegation – we investigated it. Nor did we sweep it under the carpet – far from it”

Richard W. Symonds

April 9 2019 – “Clergy burnt church files after being accused of covering up abuse” – Christian Today – Harry Farley [March 20 2018]

garden-party-in-the-deanery-garden-e1465895259248

The Deanery Garden at Chichester Cathedral

https://www.christiantoday.com/article/clergy-burnt-church-files-after-being-accused-of-covering-up-abuse-inquiry-hears/127645.htm

Clergy burnt church files after being accused of covering up abuse, inquiry hears Harry Farley Tue 20 Mar 2018 16:57 GMT

A senior clergyman burnt church files, an inquiry heard today, after he failed to report the systematic abuse of children by a priest to the police.

John Treadgold, the former dean of Chichester Cathedral, returned to the empty deanery after he retired in 2001, took files from the basement and burnt them in the garden, his former colleague Peter Atkinson said.

Peter Atkinson
IICSA – Peter Atkinson was Chancellor at Chichester Cathedral under John Treadgold and is now Dean of Worcester.

It happened as Terence Banks, the head steward of the cathedral, was convicted of 32 sexual offences against 12 boys over a period of 29 years. He was sentenced to 16 years in jail in 2001 after an investigation by Sussex police.

However it later emerged through a report conducted by Edina Carmi in 2004 that Treadgold had been told of Banks’ abuse by a victim in 2000 but had not reported it to the police, the child protection adviser or social services.

Of Banks’ 12 victims, all were under 16 years of ago and some were as young as 11. He was eventually convicted in 2001 of 23 charges of indecent assault, five of buggery, one of indecency with a child under 14 years, and  two of attempting to procure acts of gross indecency.

The current dean of Worcester, Peter Atkinson, was chancellor of Chichester Cathedral at the time, and told the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse that Treadgold came back to the deanery after he had retired and burnt files that were in the basement.

IICSA
IICSAThe inquiry is chaired by professor Alexis Jay, second from left.

‘What I remember of the episode is that he returned to the deanery, which was then empty, removed a number of files from the deanery basement and had a fire in the garden,’ Atkinson told the inquiry today.

‘I don’t know what the files were,’ he added.

‘It is a bit odd that he moved away and then came back to do this. It was sufficiently troubling for us to mention this to the police.’

He said the police ‘took it very seriously’ but ‘ultimately no future action was taken’.

He described Treadgold’s dealings with the police as ‘defensive’ and said he blurred homosexuality with paedophilia in his attitude.

‘The conflict over homosexuality and abuse was, like many men of his background and his generation, there was an unease about her whole idea of homosexuality and a sort of presumption that homosexual men where unsafe in relation to other men, particularly younger men or boys.’

The independent inquiry into child sex abuse is hearing evidence into how the diocese of Chichester dealt with allegations of abuse as a case study for the wider Church of England.

https://richardwsymonds.wordpress.com/2019/05/10/may-10-2019-the-treadgold-bonfire-2001/

May 10 2019 – ‘The Dean’s Bonfire’ – Chichester Cathedral – 2001

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bonfire-1

https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2018/23-march/news/uk/iicsa-latest-the-dean-s-bonfire-and-the-destroyed-report-chichester-cathedral

DAY 12 IICSA INQUIRY – CHICHESTER – 20 MARCH 2018 – DEAN PETER ATKINSON ON DEAN TREADGOLD, TERENCE BANKS ET AL

Q. Before we move on, we should deal briefly with one other matter touching on Dean Treadgold. Is it right that at the time of his retirement, or thereabouts, there came a time when he burnt a number of files held within the cathedral?

A. Yes. He had retired in the autumn of 2001 and moved a short distance away. What I remember of the episode is that he returned to the deanery, which then was empty, this was long before Dean Frayling arrived, removed a number of files from the deanery basement and had a fire in the garden. I don’t know what the files were. I think there is some indication that they might have been old chapter files, but they may well have been his own. It’s a bit odd that he’d moved away and then came back to do this, and it was sufficiently troubling for us to mention this to the police, which happened.

Q. And the police subsequently investigated it, including interviewing, I understand, Dean Treadgold under caution?

A. They took it very seriously, yes.

Q. But no further action was ultimately taken?

A. Ultimately, no further action was taken.

Q. Did anybody within the cathedral or the chapter think to get him back in, have a word with him and say, “What were you burning and why were you burning it?”, because, in theory, there’s a potential hole in your record keeping now?

A. I don’t remember that happening. I think the person who spoke to the police, as far as I can remember, was Canon John Ford, who by then was the acting dean between the two deans, and I can’t remember that we took further action ourselves, knowing that the police were involved. I think we took the view that that was police business.

Q. Once they’d taken no further action, why not then? Why not then say, “Hang on a minute, somebody who has moved away from the cathedral, who has retired, has come back, potentially taken chapter files and burnt them. We need to find out why and what they have burnt, if for no other reason than to find out where we have now got record gaps, or even take disciplinary action”?

A. I’m not sure what disciplinary action might have been taken against a retired dean. The answer to your question is that I don’t remember that kind of internal investigation happening.

Q. If we can move forward to the Carmi Report…

IICSA INVESTIGATION REPORT – May 9 2019

Full Text of Report: Anglican Church Case Studies: Chichester/Peter Ball Investigation Report

57
The Carmi review was designed to imitate the serious cases reviews that were
conducted by local authorities in cases of death or serious harm to young people. It was commissioned by Bishop Hind shortly after his appointment. His intention was to understand how Banks “could have been able to perpetrate offences against so many boys over such a long period”.

58
The Carmi review Commissioning of the review
In September 2001, a letter from Bishop Hind was sent to each of the victims who had been identified during the police investigation. This letter explained that a review would be taking place. AN‑A11 agreed to participate in the review. Along with another victim of Banks, he met with Mrs Carmi to discuss his experiences of abuse. The victims’ views would form part of the completed report, which was eventually finalised in January 2004.

Problems encountered during the Carmi review
The leadership of Dean John Treadgold. Between 1997 and 2007, Canon Peter Atkinson (currently the Dean of Worcester60) was a residentiary canon and chancellor of Chichester Cathedral. In his view, there was a “failure
of leadership” at Chichester Cathedral at the time of Banks’ arrest.
Dean John Treadgold was the then Dean of Chichester Cathedral. Under his direction, safeguarding matters were handled as pastoral concerns and nothing more. Canon Atkinson described him as a “rugged individualist” with traditional views, who found it difficult to relate to members of the Diocese and to external agencies.


ACE022573_123 58 WWS000138_031 59 INQ000984_014-15 60 WWS000140_002 61 WWS000140_020 62 This is not the correct nomenclature, but is used in this report for ease of reference. 63 Atkinson 20 March 2018 147/22

Case study 1: The Diocese of Chichester
Dean Treadgold appears to have experienced a particularly strained relationship
with Mrs Carmi, Mrs Hind and the police. For instance, at the debrief meeting chaired by Mrs Carmi on 12 June 2001, the police raised concerns regarding his response to the criminal investigation of Banks. It was specifically noted that the Dean “appeared defensive and seemed to take the side of the Defendant”.
Shortly after his retirement in autumn 2001, Dean Treadgold returned to Chichester Cathedral. He instructed the gardeners to burn a number of files held in the basement of the Deanery. This incident was reported to the police by members of the Cathedral. A police investigation was subsequently conducted, during the course of which the Carmi review was suspended. Ultimately, the police took no further action and the Carmi review continued from early December 2002. Canon Atkinson recalled that no internal investigation took
place regarding the burning of these potentially important files. Nobody in the Cathedralappears to have questioned Dean Treadgold about this, nor did the Cathedral carry out any enquiries of its own.

Opposition to the review
In a letter to Mrs Carmi dated 3 November 2003, Bishop Hind acknowledged receipt of her completed report. He expressed his apologies for the extent to which her review had been hindered by “members and officials of the Church”.
Indeed, Mrs Carmi told us the Dean and Chapter were reluctant both to engage with the investigation and to assist in encouraging further victims to come forward.
When the review began two years earlier, Bishop Hind wrote to the Dean and to all members of the Chapter requesting their full co-operation with Mrs Carmi in the completion of her task. The responses to his letter expressed an unreserved willingness to assist, with Dean Treadgold declaring that “I shall be quite happy to assist Mrs Carmi in any way I can”.

After he resigned from his post in October 2001, he was succeeded by Dean Nicholas Frayling, who echoed these assurances of support for the investigation.
Despite this ostensible show of compliance by the Dean and Chapter, Mrs Carmi said “there was a gap between what we were asking of them and what they were prepared to do”.
For example, in addition to proactively contacting those victims whose identities were known to the police, Mrs Carmi planned to offer a chance to contribute to all other individuals who had not previously come forward. She intended to achieve this aim by writing to the wider Cathedral and school communities.
Unfortunately, Mrs Carmi faced opposition from the Dean and Chapter when she sought to initiate such communication. Dean Frayling was said to have described her request for information as a “fishing expedition” which was likely to cause distress to many people in its revival of historic events. As chair of The Prebendal School’s governing body, he expressed similar concerns when Mrs Carmi attempted to contact current and former parents of its pupils….

Spotlight’ Film – 2015

Woman: There was a lot of pressure to keep quiet.

Reporter: From the Church?

Woman: Yeah, from the Church. But not just the Church. From my friends. From other parishioners.

TERENCE BANKS – CONVICTION 2001

09/07/2014 · Terence Banks, 63, a former BBC floor manager, molested 12 boys over almost 30 years since 1972. After a three-day trial, a jury convicted him of serious sexual assault of a 13-year-old boy between January 1971 and December 1973

The UK & Ireland Database

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Terence Banks – Chichester/Hammersmith

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May 2001

Church steward who groomed boys for abuse is jailed

A STEWARD at Chichester Cathedral who used his position to abuse young boys attending church functions has been jailed for 16 years.

Terence Banks, 63, a former BBC floor manager, molested 12 boys over almost 30 years since 1972.

After a three-day trial, a jury convicted him of serious sexual assault of a 13-year-old boy between January 1971 and December 1973. Banks, who denied both charges, had already admitted at a previous court hearing 31 sex offences against boys and young men. 

Sentencing him, Judge Richard Brown said “You presented yourself to children and their parents as a kindly, helpful and genuine person. Of course we now know that in reality you were a manipulative, wicked, serial sexual abuser of young men and boys.

You used the cathedral activities as a cloak to cover your targeting of potential young victims.”

Banks admitted 31 sexual offences, which included indecent assault and serious sexual assaults. He was also convicted of one serious sexual offence.

Philip Katz, QC, for the prosecution, had told Lewes Crown Court: “The offences range from touching to repeated buggery. The background to the case, the Crown say, concerns the systematic grooming and sexual abuse of young boys for nearly 30 years.”

The court was told that the victims were offered alcohol, meals out and trips to London, including tours of the BBC studios, by Banks.

The court was told how two of Banks’s older victims suffered severe mental trauma as a result of the abuse. One of them said that the abuse had made him feel “dirty, sick, angry and almost suicidal”; another had suffered a mental breakdown and is unable to work.

Banks had a flat in Hammersmith, West London, close to the BBC, and a home near Chichester Cathedral, where he often showed boys pornographic videos before molesting them.

Mr Katz said that it was one of Banks’s most recent victims, now aged 18, who had triggered the police investigation. “This victim told his girlfriend what had happened to him and then approached police out of concern for other young boys,” Mr Katz said.

“He told police that the abuse had ruined his life and led him to drink heavily and said he was an emotional wreck and the abuse had confused him about everything, including his sexuality.”

“His courageous declaration was the start of this inquiry and it well and truly opened the floodgates.”

Sonia Woodley, QC, for the defence, said that Banks had been abused as a child by a teacher and other adults. She said: “Because of a lack of love from his father he enjoyed the attention from his abusers.”

After the case one of the abused boys, now aged 32, issued a statement of behalf of all Banks’s victims. He said: “It has been noted that Mr Banks received support from the Church since his detainment, but at no time during this difficult period has the clergy offered any support to the victims.

It is no coincidence that the victims selected by Terence Banks were sought and identified from within the cathedral environment,
an environment which should promote Christianity and decency. In this case it harboured the opposite.”

“This sentence will shoot a warning bolt across anyone who has committed such offences – your days are numbered. We stand as one to show that unity works.”

Banks will remain on the sex offenders’ register for life.

JANUARY 16 2021 – NO MORE COVER-UPS – “WE NEED TO KNOW ABOUT SAFEGUARDING” BY MARTIN SEWELL – ‘TRANSFORMING MINISTRY’ MAGAZINE [SPRING 2021]

We need to know about safeguarding

By Martin Sewell


Ensuring safety in our church communities is everyone’s business.
Martin Sewell brings us up to date with the latest developments.

When the IICSA report into
the safeguarding failures of
the Church of England was
published in October, the Archbishop of
Canterbury described it as ‘a stark and
shocking reminder’ of the many times
the Church has failed survivors of abuse.
It followed an interim report into the
Diocese of Chichester which had been
chosen as a sample diocese because of
a number of high-profile past cases
which had occurred there. The situation
described in the report is indeed awful,
but the Church’s embarrassment will
not end here.


The inquiry is continuing its work
and has reserved judgement on two
important issues. Many countries
have already introduced laws
requiring mandatory reporting of the
suspicions of abuse, with criminal law
consequences for those failing to do so:
many in the victim community see this
as the only way to ensure that repeated
failures and cover-ups do not continue.
The legal protection afforded to priests
who hear confession will also be the
subject of the further reports by IICSA.
Some in the Church will find that
difficult to accept.


Shortly after IICSA reported, another
independent report A Betrayal of Trust
was published, detailing the abuse of
children and young people of both
sexes by the former Bishop of Chester,
Hubert Whitsey. All the problems
identified by IICSA featured again:
the clergy deference, the excuses, the
structural weakness and the institutional
indifference. One candidate for
ordination explained ‘He told me he had the power to give me everything I wanted
in life and the power to take it all away.
He then proceeded to abuse me sexually
and psychologically. I was powerless to
stop him’.


There will be yet further cause for
discomfort to those of us exercising
ministry within the established Church.
The cases which IICSA sampled were all
significantly historic; many involved the
anglo catholic wing of the Church, but as
it began its work, a fresh set of scandals
began to come to light which were too
late to feature in the public inquiry. They
were, nevertheless, every bit as shocking.
This time, the Evangelical world found
itself in the spotlight as a result of the
activities first of John Smyth and then
Jonathan Fletcher, both luminaries of
the Iwerne Camps and the network of
conservative evangelical churches that
grew out of them.


The Church can therefore expect more
press attention and deserved criticism
in the New Year, when the CofE Makin
inquiry on Smyth and the Independent
ThirtyOne:Eight report into Fletcher
will be published. Both reports concern
abuses known to insiders for a long time
and deliberately covered up.
In some ways these revelations will be
even more shocking than what we have
heard already. Smyth has been described
as ‘the Jimmy Savile of the Church of
England’. He preyed on, and savagely
beat twenty-seven young men, having
groomed them using trust gained
through his position as Chairman of the
Iwerne Trust. The level of violence and
his abuse of scriptural text will shock us
once again.


The criminality of Smyth was known
at the highest level of the Evangelical
leadership, having been alerted in clear
terms by the internal ‘Ruston Report’
as long ago as 1982. Smyth had been
quietly encouraged to leave the country,
…Lasting
change will
require more than
platitudes.
[IICSA
Report]
…The Church has failed
to respond consistently to
victims and survivors of child
sexual abuse with sympathy and
compassion, accompanied by practical
and appropriate support. This has often
added to the trauma already suffered by
those who were abused
by individuals associated
with the Church.
[IICSA Report]
The culture of
the Church of England
facilitated it becoming a
place where abusers could hide.
Deference to the authority of the
Church and to individual priests, taboos
surrounding discussion of sexuality and an
environment where alleged perpetrators
were treated more supportively
than victims presented barriers to
disclosure that many victims
could not overcome.
[IICSA Report]
but was privately financially supported
in establishing similar camps in
Zimbabwe where he went on to abuse a
hundred African youngsters for decades.
That would not have happened had
those who knew acted with integrity.
The implicit racism of exporting
Iwerne’s problem abuser together with
the extent of knowledge and complicity
will be hard reading.


The separate abuse by Jonathan
Fletcher, an associate of Smyth, occurred
when Smyth’s activities and grooming
techniques were already known, but
lessons were not learned. Even when his
Permission to Officiate was withdrawn,
he continued to be revered and invited
to teach in contexts where young people
were potentially placed at risk.


The problems continue. Both
complainants and those complained
about are united in criticism of the
Church’s complaint handling. Few have
confidence in the ‘Core Groups’
which assess information and make
life-changing decisions in secret;
there is no independent legal advisor
present, no rights of either party to
make direct representation, and no
appeal mechanism. The Church PR
team is always a party to the decisions.
The Church agrees that the Clergy
Discipline Measure is not fit for
purpose. No serving bishop has ever
had an adverse ruling.


So what should those of us exercising
ministry and responsibility within
the Church make of all these dreadful
revelations? Is there any light on the
horizon? It all rather depends on us.


In recent years there has been a
massive increase in resources allocated
to policy reform and training. There
is no excuse for any LLM not knowing
the danger signs and what to do about
it, yet every chain is only as strong as
its weakest link. Is everyone in your
church up to date on DBS checks and
training? Are the churches in which we
minister robust in their systems and
attitudes? Do we prioritise the care of
the vulnerable in their many forms?
Is anyone in the leadership team
‘beyond suspicion’?


One victim/survivor group surveys
websites and reports that publication
of the required information is still very
patchy. If you display a safeguarding
poster in your church, can it be easily
seen read and understood by a nine-year-old? Does your website help inform
and direct anyone with concerns to the
right people to help? Is safeguarding
on the agenda of each PCC meeting? Is
information and good practice shared
within the church when it is shared by
the diocese? Can I easily but discreetly
discover where to go for help if I have a
worry? If you are not sure about any of
these things – you are the weakest link!


There is an increasing – but
incomplete – awareness of the
problem of deference. Every one of
the abusers was well regarded in the
communities in which they moved.
Yet the signs were glaringly apparent.
Like Jimmy Savile, all of the Church
abusers were ‘hiding in plain sight’.
Abusers are often personable and
charismatic; they manipulate and
make themselves indispensable. In one
of the General Synod debates, we were
told by one who had learned from
observation of an abuser at work that
‘abusers do not groom victims, they
groom entire congregations’.


Next year there will be General Synod
elections. Many LLMs are electors
to the House of Laity. They can call
members to account and scrutinise
views, commitment and actions. This is
a problem area; in every election cycle,
institutional memory will be lost, people
will join the debate late in the day – yet
we want fresh ideas. Your scrutiny and
votes are important and influential:
everyone has a part to play in shaping
better future practice.

The Lead Bishop for Safeguarding,
Dr Jonathan Gibbs, has begun building
bridges with the survivor community
and already secured General Synod
acceptance of a commitment to
compensate victims where legal
settlements have been driven down
by questionable legal and insurance
practices. A reformed CDM process is
to be legislated. Greater independence
and outside oversight of the National
Safeguarding Team is to be introduced.
At every General Synod session, new
issues are aired as members embrace
their responsibility to call leaders to
account through the Question and
Answer sessions.


Far from bringing closure, IICSA has
widened and deepened the challenge to
the Church. Implementing the required
reforms will plainly be a major part
of the work of General Synod in the
coming years. This will not only be
directly. There is finance to be managed.
Constitutionally, the role of bishops
will need to change as responsibility is
moved to outsider authority; greater
clarity will be needed to signpost ‘where
the buck stops’.


Theologically even the sexuality
debate will be impacted. The arrival
of the long awaited teaching materials
Living in Love and Faith will intersect
with safeguarding questions. IICSA
identified that the reticence in much
of the Church to address these issues
played an important part in victims not
coming forward and not being taken
seriously in the past. There is plainly
much to be done to put right the sins
of the past and the present. Since IICSA
reported I am aware of two victim-attempted suicides.


Given the slow procedures of the
Church there may be few swift victories
to be had but, before we get our
heads down to work, I hope we shall
all recognise the debt we owe to the
survivors whose integrity, honesty and
determination drove these reforms to
happen when so many of the leaders
we have looked up to, passed by on the
other side of the road.


There are many stories to be told of
their courage, resilience and mutual
support within the survivor community
but let me end by sharing one.


When one victim ‘went public’, He
suffered in an unexpected way; his
business depended in large part on
church-based customers. Half deserted
him for ‘embarrassing the church’, his
cash flow was hit, he faced the loss
of his livelihood and his home. The
church ‘could not help’. I met him at a
modest demonstration where Smyth
victims were also present, some of
whom are wealthy. Within hours, the
funds required to rescue him had been
deposited into his account.


Both donor and recipient had lost their
faith through the actions of the Church,
yet I cannot help but ask who it was that
followed Jesus more faithfully – those
inside the Church, or those clamouring
for justice and mercy from outside?
Rarely has the command ‘Go and do thou
likewise’ seemed more relevant.

17
Martin Sewell is a Reader
in the Diocese of Rochester,
a retired Child Protection
Solicitor and a Member
of the General Synod
where he takes a particular
interest in matters of Safeguarding and
Survivor support.


To find out more
The Ruston Report
http://static1.1.sqspcdn.com/static
/f/970485/27843482/1519929269713/Th
e+Ruston+Report+on+John+Smyth+1993.
pdf?token=b5ZM1XU9leAUV05%2BfBelEJF
ZCiE%3D
The IICSA report
https://www.iicsa.org.uk/keydocuments/22519/view/anglican-churchinvestigation-report-6-october-2020.pdf
The Whitsey Report
‘A Betrayal of Trust’
This report is not currently available
but you can read a review of it at:
https://www.churchofengland.org/news-andmedia/news-and-statements/review-bishopwhitsey

Excessive
attention was often
paid to the circumstances
of the alleged perpetrator
in comparison to the attention
given to those who disclosed they
had been sexually abused or
to the issue of the risk that
alleged perpetrators
posed to others.
[IICSA Report]


…The Church’s neglect
of the physical, emotional
and spiritual well-being of
children and young people in
favour of protecting its reputation
was in conflict with its mission of
love and care for the innocent
and the vulnerable.
[IICSA Report]

DECEMBER 30 2020 – WHO WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE NEAR-CRIMINAL CHURCH STATEMENT ON BISHOP GEORGE BELL FIVE YEARS AGO – OCTOBER 22 2015?

WHO WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE NEAR-CRIMINAL CHURCH STATEMENT ON BISHOP GEORGE BELL FIVE YEARS AGO – OCTOBER 22 2020?

WHO WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE NEAR-CRIMINAL CHURCH STATEMENT ON BISHOP BELL FIVE YEARS AGO THIS MONTH – OCTOBER 22 2015 – RESULTING IN A MEDIA FRENZY WHICH FALSELY CONDEMNED HIM A PAEDOPHILE?

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Statement on the Rt. Revd George Bell, 1883 -1958

22/10/2015

The Bishop of Chichester has issued a formal apology following the settlement of a legal civil claim regarding sexual abuse against the Right Reverend George Bell, who was Bishop of Chichester from 1929 until his death on 3rd October 1958.

The allegations against Bell date from the late 1940s and early 1950s and concern allegations of sexual offences against an individual who was at the time a young child.

Following settlement of the claim the serving Bishop of Chichester, the Right Reverend Dr. Martin Warner, wrote to the survivor formally apologising and expressing his “deep sorrow” acknowledging that “the abuse of children is a criminal act and a devastating betrayal of trust that should never occur in any situation, particularly the church.”

Bishop Warner paid tribute to the survivor’s courage in coming forward to report the abuse and notes that “along with my colleagues throughout the church, I am committed to ensuring that the past is handled with honesty and transparency.”

Tracey Emmott, the solicitor for the survivor, today issued the following statement on behalf of her client:

“The new culture of openness in the Church of England is genuinely refreshing and seems to represent a proper recognition of the dark secrets of its past, many of which may still not have come to light.  While my client is glad this case is over, they remain bitter that their 1995 complaint was not properly listened to or dealt with until my client made contact with Archbishop Justin Welby’s office in 2013.  That failure to respond properly was very damaging, and combined with the abuse that was suffered has had a profound effect on my client’s life.  For my client, the compensation finally received does not change anything.  How could any amount of money possibly compensate for childhood abuse?  However, my client recognises that it represents a token of apology.  What mattered to my client most and has brought more closure than anything was the personal letter my client has recently received from the Bishop of Chichester.”

The survivor first reported the abuse to the then Bishop of Chichester, Eric Kemp, in August 1995. Bishop Kemp responded to the correspondence offering pastoral support but did not refer the matter to the police or, so far as is known, investigate the matter further. It was not until contact with Lambeth Palace in 2013 that the survivor was put in touch with the safeguarding team at the Diocese of Chichester who referred the matter to the police and offered personal support and counselling to the survivor.

In his letter to the survivor Bishop Warner acknowledges that the response from the Diocese of Chichester in 1995, when the survivor first came forward, “fell a long way short, not just of what is expected now, but of what we now appreciate you should have had a right to expect then.”

In accordance with the recommendations of the Church Commissaries’ report into the Diocese of Chichester in 2012 the settlement does not impose any form of “confidentiality agreement” restriction regarding public disclosure upon the individual. In this case the survivor has expressed the desire to remain anonymous.

Following a meeting between the survivor and Sussex police in 2013, it was confirmed by the police that the information obtained from their enquiries would have justified, had he still been alive, Bishop Bell’s arrest and interview, on suspicion of serious sexual offences, followed by release on bail, further enquiries and the subsequent submission of a police report to the CPS.

A formal claim for compensation was submitted in April 2014 and was settled in late September of this year. The settlement followed a thorough pre-litigation process during which further investigations into the claim took place including the commissioning of expert independent reports. None of those reports found any reason to doubt the veracity of the claim.

The Church of England takes any allegations of abuse very seriously and is committed to being a safe place for all. Any survivors or those with information about church-related abuse must always feel free to come forward knowing that they will be listened to in confidence.

Should anyone have further information or need to discuss the personal impact of this news the Church has worked with the NSPCC to set up a confidential helpline no. 0800 389 5344.

ENDS

Notes to Editors

A copy of this statement can be found on the Church of England website and the Diocese of Chichester website.

For further information contact Lisa Williamson at the Diocese of Chichester Communications office on 01273 425791 or The Revd Dr Rob Marshall +44 (0) 7766 952113

The Rt. Revd. Mark Sowerby, Bishop of Horsham in the Diocese of Chichester is available for interview today. Please use the above numbers or contact his office on 01403 211139

CHRONOLOGY OF EVENTS AFTER CHURCH STATEMENT ON BISHOP BELL

Oct 22 2015 – Church of England Statement on the Rt. Revd George Bell (1883-1958)

“Moral, legal and common sense appears to have deserted the Church of England. The Presumption of Innocence has been described as ‘the golden thread that runs through British justice’. That thread was broken by the October Statement, and replaced with the Presumption of Guilt. The Media – including the BBC – assumed Bishop Bell’s guilt on the basis of the Church’s Statement, and their subsequent headlines reflected that assumption. No attempt was made by the Church, immediately after the headlines, to correct the media interpretation of the Statement. This would strongly suggest a Presumption of Guilt on the Church’s part towards Bishop Bell” – Richard W. Symonds

Oct 22 2015 – Bishop of Chichester (Martin Warner) Statement on the Rt. Revd George Bell [1883-1958] 

“In this case, the scrutiny of the allegation has been thorough, objective, and undertaken by people who command the respect of all parties….” – Bishop of Chichester Martin Warner

Oct 22 2015 – “I would be grateful…if you could refrain from including George Bell in your guided tours and external presentations” – Dean of Chichester Cathedral, The Very Reverend Stephen Waine [to Cathedral Guides]

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Oct 22 2015 – Statement on the Rt Revd George Bell (1883-1958)” – ‘Thinking Anglicans’

Oct 22 2015 – “Church of England bishop George Bell abused young child” – The Guardian – Reporter: Harriet Sherwood

Oct 22 2015 – “Revered Bishop George Bell was a paedophile – Church of England” – Daily Telegraph – John Bingham [Religious Affairs Editor]

Oct 22 2015 – “Bishop of Chichester George Bell sex abuse victim gets compensation” – BBC News – Sussex

Oct 22 2015 – “Former Chichester bishop George Bell abused young child” – Chichester Observer

Oct 22 2015 – “Bishop Luffa urged to rename house after George Bell revelation” – Chichester Observer

“The grandson was asked the reason why his school building, dedicated to Bishop George Bell, had been re-named. The answer came straight back, ‘Because he was a paedophile’” ~ Richard W. Symonds

Oct 23 2015 – “Bishop revealed to have sexually abused child” / “The dark secret of a respected peacemaker” – The Argus – Reporter: Rachel Millard

Oct 23 2015 – “Conservative Government Threatened By Sex Scandals” – Aangirfan

Oct 24 2015 – “Former bishop’s despicable fall from grace will prompt much soul-searching from the Church” / “Abuse victim hits out over ‘systematic behaviour’” – The Argus – Reporter: Joel Adams

Oct 27 2015 – Vickery House found guilty of historic sex offences – BBC News

Oct 28 2015 – “The rule of the lynch mob” – Church of England Newspaper

“Beware of throwing someone under the bus. Remember: the bus can shift into reverse” ~ Janette McGowen

“The professional approach is to neither believe nor disbelieve the complainant and their allegation. There is no right or entitlement for a complainant to be believed, but there is a right and entitlement for a complainant to be treated with respect, to take their allegation seriously, to listen with compassion, and to record the facts clearly. It would appear the Church regarded ‘Carol’ as a victim to be believed at all costs. There seems to have been a panicked rush to judgement in which an astonishing lack of judgement was made manifest. Bishop Bell was an easy target, disposable and dispensable…’thrown under the bus’ for reasons unknown” ~ Richard W. Symonds

Oct 28 2015 – “Church in third sex abuse scandal as ex-vicar is convicted” / “Where did it go wrong for the Diocese of Chichester?” – The Argus – Reporter: Joel Adams

Oct 29 2015 – “Vickery House: Priest jailed over sex attacks” – BBC News

Nov 4 2015 – “Sussex school named after disgraced clergyman Bishop Bell may change its name” – Crawley Observer

Nov 7 2015 – “The Church of England’s shameful betrayal of bishop George Bell” – The Spectator – Peter Hitchens

Nov 9 2015 – “The tragedy of former bishop who committed terrible acts” – Tony Greenstein – Opinion – The Argus

Nov 9 2015 – “Bishop George Bell and the tyranny of paedomania” – ‘Archbishop Cranmer’

Nov 13 2015 – “The Church of England media statement about Bishop George Bell” – The Church Times – Letter – Alan Pardoe QC

Nov 20 2015 – “Church of England media statement on Bishop Bell – further comment” – The Church Times – Letter – Dr Brian Hanson

Nov 22 2015 – “My defence of former Bishop of Chichester George Bell” – Chichester Observer – Letter – Peter Hitchens

Dec 5 2015 – A Background to “The Jersey Way” – Photopol

Dec 11 2015 – “An abuse survivors tale” – Julie Macfarlane

Dec 31 2015 – “Peter Ball: letters of support released” – ‘Thinking Anglicans’

Winter 2015 – Chichester Cathedral Newsletter – Stephen Waine, Dean on Bishop Bell

Excerpt from the IPSO complaint against the Argus newspaper – October 2020

‘…Indeed, the subsequent report (published in December 2017) by Lord Carlile of Berriew QC, who was commissioned by the Church of England to “conduct a Review into the way the Church of England dealt with a complaint of sexual abuse made by a woman known as ‘Carol’ against the late Bishop Bell,” said (critically) of the press statement of 22 October 2015, announcing the settlement and apology, that “it provided the following conclusions:

(i) The allegations had been investigated, and a proper process followed.

(ii) The allegations had been proved; therefore

(iii) There was no doubt that Bishop Bell had abused Carol.”  (Carlile Review, para 237.)

Lord Carlile’s report, which condemned that statement, is not even mentioned in the Argus article.  By contrast, even though Lord Carlile’s terms of reference did not ask him “to determine the truthfulness of Carol, nor the guilt or innocence of Bishop Bell” he stated clearly (para 171) “Had the evidence my review has obtained without any particular difficulty… been available to the Church and the CPS, I doubt that the test for a prosecution would have been passed.”

“REMEMBER THAT WORDS HAVE CONSEQUENCES” – LORD MACDONALD

May 22 2020 – “NINTH COMMANDMENT CONCERNS ABOUT THE BISHOP OF CHICHESTER” – ANGLICAN LINK

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Present Bishop of Chichester Martin Warner

Letter to the editor: Ninth commandment concerns about the Bishop of Chichester

Letter to the editor: Ninth commandment concerns about the Bishop of Chichester

Richard Symonds of The Bell Society believes the General Synod of the Church of England and the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse should investigate the Bishop of Chichester for being “economic with the truth” in his statements on his handling of clergy sexual abuse cases. He writes:

 

Sir:

The Bishop of Chichester Martin Warner makes very clear at the IICSA in March 2018, the Church’s insurance company at the time – presumably Ecclesiastical? – was fully involved in (and I’m sure was fully paid for) the advice to the Church, and presumably its Core Group, regarding Bishop Bell and ‘Carol’:

Day 8 IICSA Inquiry – Chichester 14 March 2018 – Page 21 – Fiona Scolding QC: “The other matter I want to put to you is [quoting Lord Carlile]: ‘There was no organised or valuable enquiry or investigation into the merits of the allegations, and the standpoint of Bishop Bell was never given parity or proportionality.’ What is your response to that?”

Bishop of Chichester Martin Warner: “The question of an organised or valuable inquiry is something of a value judgement, I think, and we certainly didn’t feel that there was no serious inquiry into that which was undertaken through our insurers and their legal representative in whom we had considerable trust and regard and who Lord Carlile also recognises as a responsible and able person. I see him to say that the standpoint of Bishop Bell was never given parity or proportionality. It was certainly given proportionality. We understood absolutely that was the case. I think the area which he’s rightly also identified is that there was nobody there to speak for Bishop Bell, and that, again, with the benefit of hindsight, is something that I think was wrong…”

Mr. David Lamming, Church of England’s General Synod Member representing St. Edmundsbury & Ipswich, further comments: ‘Bishop Martin Warner’s answer to Fiona Scolding’s question at IICSA [Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse] on 14 March 2018 about the involvement of insurers in the settlement of ‘Carol’s’ claim (see…Richard Symonds’s comment) appears to be at odds with information he provided to me in 2016.’

At General Synod on 8 July 2016 I asked a question about the contribution to the settlement made by the Church Commissioners. The question was answered by the then First Church Estates Commissioner, Sir Andreas Whittam Smith. In the light of his written answer, I asked by way of a supplementary “whether insurers were asked to contribute to the settlement and, if so, whether and why they declined to do so?”’

This was Sir Andreas’s response: “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 probably know, and we make judgments on what costs to bear on a variety of factors. In this case, the answers are really clear in my answer. I do not 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. We paid £29,800 of those and a private individual came forward, not an insurer, and paid the rest. I cannot add to that.”’

His answer led to the following exchange with Martin Sewell:

Mr Martin Sewell (Rochester): There is a very simple question on the table: did any insurer decline to indemnify?
Sir Andreas Whittam Smith: I have no idea whether an insurer was involved. We were not told about such a case.
Mr Martin Sewell: Who would know?
Sir Andreas Whittam Smith: The Diocese of Chichester would know.
Mr Martin Sewell: Will that information be made available?
Sir Andreas Whittam Smith: I cannot speak for the Diocese of Chichester, I am afraid.’

In the light of this exchange I e-mailed the Bishop of Chichester on 25 July 2016, asking (inter alia), “Were insurers involved at any stage prior to the settlement with Carol? If so, were they asked to contribute to the settlement and, if so, did they decline to do so or to indemnify the Diocese and, if so, why?”’

This was Bishop Martin’s reply in an e-mail on 29 July 2016: “No relevant insurance was held in respect of this claim, so no insurers were involved in the case and no requests were made to any insurer. As Sir Andreas said in his reply to the Synod, the costs and damages were paid by the Commissioners and a private individual who wishes to remain anonymous. The claim was made against me in my corporate capacity.”

Yours sincerely

Richard W. Symonds, The Bell Society

Ifield Village, Crawley-Gatwick, West Sussex RH11 0NN
Email: richardsy5@aol.com

‘BISHOP BELL – DRESDEN’ LETTER SUBMITTED BY THE REVD DR BARRY A. ORFORD TO THE DAILY TELEGRAPH

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Image copyright GETTY IMAGES The bombing of Dresden created a firestorm that destroyed the centre of the city

‘DRESDEN – BISHOP BELL’ LETTER SUBMITTED BY THE REVD DR BARRY A. ORFORD TO THE DAILY TELEGRAPH

 

The Editor

The Daily Telegraph

London

SW1W 0DT

February 13th, 2020

 

Sir,

The article by Sinclair McKay (February 13th) on the 1945 bombing of Dresden was timely and welcome. What a pity, though, that he did not mention the most prominent wartime challenge to the British policy of Obliteration Bombing, which came from Bishop George Bell of Chichester.

In 1944, when Hamburg had been devastated the previous year and Dresden was still to suffer, Bishop Bell, a fervent anti-Nazi, questioned in the House of Lords the morality of such bombing of targets which were not primarily military. Few of his fellow bishops supported him, and he earned himself both widespread abuse but also agreement. The bravery of his stand is undeniable.

Recently, there have been shameful (and now discredited) attempts in Bell’s diocese to tarnish his reputation. Since an apology for this behaviour is still not forthcoming, it is more than ever necessary that we are reminded of George Bell’s courage and integrity, both in wartime and beyond it.

 

Barry A. Orford

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The Revd Dr Barry  A. Orford

Sept 23 2019 – European Links and the Coburg Conference – Chichester [Oct 10-14 2019]

https://web.archive.org/web/20171228223404/http://www.chichestercathedral.org.uk/about-us/european-links.shtml

European Links

The Diocese of Chichester has links with the United Church of Berlin-Brandenburg, the Lutheran Evangelical Church (EKD) District of Bayreuth, Bavaria, and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bamberg, Bavaria. Regionalbischof Dr Dorothea Greiner of Bayreuth, and Domkapitular Professor Wolfgang Klausnitzer are Canons of Honour of Chichester Cathedral.

The biennial “Coburg Conference” brings together representatives of the churches of Chichester, Berlin, Bayreuth and Bamberg; and the biennial “Feuerstein Conference” is a meeting of seminarians, theological students and curates. There are musical exchanges and visits involving Chichester Cathedral. There are also partnerships between many parishes in the Diocese and Catholic and Lutheran parishes in Bavaria as well as Berlin and other parts of Germany.

The Cathedral’s link with Chartres was established as part of the civic twinning between the two cities. In 2003 the Bishop of Chartres preached in Chichester Cathedral and the Bishop of Chichester preached in Chartres Cathedral. The Cathedral’s Seffrid Guild made cushions for the chairs of the Bishop and the eucharistic celebrant in Chartres Cathedral. The Dean & Rector of Chartres Cathedral, The Very Reverend Canon Dominique Aubert, is a Canon of Honour of Chichester. As with the German links, there are regular musical visits and exchanges.

July 26 2019 – “The Synod navel-gazes while the nation burns” – Canon Paul Oestreicher [Church Times Letter – 26/07/2019]

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“The Synod navel-gazes while the nation burns”

From Canon Paul Oestreicher

Sir, — Reading your General Synod report (12 July) leaves me close to despair. While England is in a state of social, political, and moral disintegration, crying out for healing and reconciliation, our still would-be National Church seems very largely occupied with its own affairs and its own guilt. Oblivious to the mortal dangers, we are busy doing repairs on our leaky vessel, as Britain runs on to the rocks, come Hallowe’en.

Allow me an interpolation from the year of my birth, in a small middle-class German town, in 1931. I know history never quite repeats itself, but the analogies are frightening. The mainly middle-class citizenry felt insecure, disillusioned with self-seeking party politicians at war with each other, and drawn towards a charismatic power-hungry unconventional leader, promising them whatever they wanted to hear.

In my region, his Brown Shirts were easily elected (think the Brexit Party) by those on right and left and by most churchgoers (the promised new order, a godsend), just as I was born. Two years later, Hitler took absolute power. Dissenters were traitors, (think Daily Mail). Who was to blame for all that was wrong? The Jews, of course, and bankers or Communists (think immigrants or Islam or Brussels).

Brexit is not, as — with some exceptions — our hierarchy leaves us free to think, a matter of personal opinion but a national tragedy. Brazen lies have traduced a small majority of citizens into seeking a divorce from the admittedly imperfect peace project that is the European Union.

To leave should, from the start, have been recognised as an economic, social, political, and not least spiritual disaster. See the rise in hate crimes. “Great Britain First” is a surrender of the values we have claimed to cherish, an open and welcoming society, tolerant of difference, committed to human rights, protecting minorities and cherishing the natural environment that sustains us.

To turn our back on Europe’s soul is to abandon a great part of our own heritage; for everything that is good and bad about Europe is good and bad about us. The self-centred cliques that are in the process of wrecking both of the political parties that have been the mainstay of British tradition is a calamity for which others cannot be blamed.

Last weekend, concerned citizens, alas without a recognisable church component, demonstrated against the imposition of an untrustworthy Prime Minister. The German churches failed to warn in time. Could not the small minority that the Church of England now is, still help to turn the tide?

PAUL OESTREICHER
Brighton

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Boris Johnson and a warning from history

I pray for our PM and hope that I am needlessly crying wolf, writes Canon Dr Paul Oestreicher, who fled the Nazis as a child. Plus letters from Professor Bob Brecher and Pat Kennedy
 1931: National socialist demonstration in Berlin. The banner reads ‘Only a strong Germany can provide employment to its people’. Photograph: Imagno/Getty Images

I was born in 1931 in the small German town of Meiningen, famous for its theatre, much like Stratford-upon-Avon. Its mainly middle-class citizens were deeply disillusioned, tired of the infighting of the political parties. Germany seemed to be in a state of social and moral disintegration, crying out for healing and reconciliation. People were drawn to a charismatic, unconventional power-hungry leader who read their minds and promised what they wanted to hear. I know history never quite repeats itself, but the analogies are frightening.

The single issue was the exceptionalism (Opinion, 29 July), the superiority of the German race. The good, mainly churchgoing citizens easily voted his Brown Shirts onto the regional council (think the Brexit party). Two years later they voted nationally in sufficient numbers to enable Hitler to seize total power. It was all perfectly legal, too late to effectively protest. Dissent was now treason (think the Daily Mail). My father’s parents were Jews. Outcasts now (think our non-Brits), a few years later we had no choice but to flee and my grandmother to take poison. I pray for our PM and hope that I am needlessly crying wolf.
Canon Dr Paul Oestreicher
Brighton

 

The Church of England’s ecumenical legacy in Europe is being airbrushed out of history by the totalitarian mindset of Brexiteers.
Dr Dorothea Greiner, German Bishop of Bayreuth and Chichester Cathedral’s Canon of Honour, is determined that legacy is not side-lined within the Diocese of Chichester and beyond.
The next Coburg Conference will be taking place in the Cathedral City this October, and the European delegates – including the Cathedral Chapter – will focus on the ecumenical vision of theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer and wartime Bishop of Chichester George Bell, in the light of today’s political situation.
Richard W. Symonds
The Bell Society