Tag Archives: ‘Gilo’

OCTOBER 5 2020 – IICSA REPORT TO EXPOSE “A VERY ENGLISH FORM OF CORRUPTION“ LYING DEEP WITHIN THE ANGLICAN CHURCH

IICSA REPORT EXPOSES “A VERY ENGLISH FORM OF CORRUPTION“ LYING DEEP WITHIN THE ANGLICAN CHURCH

Looking ahead to IICSA report day on Tuesday

Stephen’s Blog Stephen Parsons

by Gilo

By no means a comprehensive list. Just a brief visit across a number of things we may probably see further comment upon after the Inquiry makes its final Anglican report.

Mandatory Reporting

It’s possible that any expecting to see the much needed recommendation for Mandatory Reporting as part of the statutory framework – will be disappointed. It is long overdue.

The argument is won.

And this presents an ideal moment as the Church has come round to acceptance of MR after a rather circuitous route of yes we do, no we don’t. Many of us suspect the Inquiry want to hold on to this as a ‘big ticket’ recommendation for the final report at the end of 2021. Why wait until then? Current policies across many institutions in regulated activities have been called “bags of bits” by Mandate Now; labyrinthine policy jungles which would become largely redundant with MR. Culture change will happen in a single weekend with its eventual introduction. But I think we have to wait until the Inquiry gets the last train home.

Independence

The Archbishops Council statement was notably vague on this. That the Church is keen to put this theme out just before the final Anglican report suggests that the Inquiry will call serious question to the Church’s fitness for self-governance. There is an overwhelming need for the National Safeguarding Team to be given independent oversight, well away from the control of Archbishops’ Council secretariat. The current NST is almost an entirely new team, but part of the difficulty facing Melissa Caslake and her newbies is picking their way through the considerable wreckage of the previous era which has left many survivors deeply suspicious of the NST.

Many disaster sites might have been avoided, or reached quicker resolution, if the NST hadn’t been shaped by the culture of Church House, its comms and lawyers and managers, and at times, the Church’s own dodgy reputation launderers.

The Christ Church core group debacle would in all likelihood have been avoided. I am told the probable outcome of this independence will be the formation of a new NCI (National Church Institution) – called Safeguarding – with independent members alongside Church appointees in an oversight committee to beef up scrutiny. We will have to wait and see how and when this happens.

Archbishops and Bishops

Many of us expect to see Archbishop Justin Welby and former Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, criticised. Both their hearings were embarrassing. When each had an opportunity to apologise to a survivor sat directly behind them, they failed to do so despite being invited by the Inquiry. Those watching sensed that the Inquiry took a dim view. The wider existential crisis of the bishops – how many senior figures and their dioceses have responded, or failed to respond – is likely to come under heavy fire.

The walls of silence to major questions that so many of us have experienced as a pattern across the bishops is something we hope the Inquiry will highlight.

I know that Bishop Jonathan Gibbs is keen to see more vigorous accountability injected into the structure. At present it is at best variable, at worst: absent.

Some bishops are thrown under the bus. Others get away with run-for-the-hills behaviour and hope the fallout from their denial and distancing will not follow them.

The National Safeguarding Steering Group, the church’s current overarching board of governance, to many of us seems to resemble a shielding for senior figures who should be facing critical questions. It includes bishops who have managed to hide within the structure behind dysfunctional processes and a culture of protection.

Ecclesiastical Insurance

Many of us expect to see the church’s insurer take a substantial hit following the recall to IICSA when Ecclesiastical Insurance tried to pull the wool over a government inquiry.

It’s worth pointing out that Carl Beech is serving 18 years in prison for perverting the course of justice and lying under oath to the police. But Ecclesiastical, a big corporate, have managed so far to get away with apparent dissembling in front of a government inquiry – under oath!

It’s also notable that their lawyer, top QC Rory Phillips, had only one client at the Inquiry and a very small handful of statements to be across. What a mess he made. I don’t think anyone assumes he knew his client was being dishonest. But to be candid, he could have done an hour’s easy homework – and realised he was representing a client who was being considerably less than ‘sufficiently full and frank’ in their testimony. It took the Inquiry less than 45 mins to devastate their testimony on three significant counts. Now, much more is emerging about malevolent psychiatric reports used against survivors, ‘genetic predisposition’ defences, desk-topping, and other strategies deployed by EIG and their lawyer – much of this reflecting dubious ethics.

But I doubt these will be visited in the report as some of these have only recently started to emerge, despite being brought to the attention of senior church figures over the years. But I would expect to see the Church criticised for its duplicity in some aspects of its relationship to the insurer.

It has sought to protect a corrupted nexus, from whom it derives substantial income through the owner of the insurer, AllChurches Trust. It has been, as one cleric put it, “a very English form of corruption”.

Interim Support Scheme

This is not part of the Inquiry. But it’s definitely worth comment – as the Church announced this flagship scheme last week perhaps as an attempt to plea-bargain with the Inquiry, and certainly to address widespread concern at the lack of compassion towards survivors. My understanding is that this scheme will help up to ten people initially (to help create the structure) and then quickly scale up. Quickly being the operative word.

If it fails to do this, or rows back on its promises, and becomes another smoke and mirror delaying tactic – then it will raise much more ire.

The proof will be in the extent to which it is prepared to rescue economies of those left in wreckage as result of reporting and re-abuse. And not just the initial ten or so. But fifty, then a hundred, and so on. This is not the redress scheme and should not be confused with it. It is the interim support prior to redress. My understanding is that there is no figure attached to this scheme – instead the lead bishops have argued for an open credit line – which I think is the right approach. The final redress scheme will cost a great deal more. The figure that has been talked about in the longer term has been £200million. But many of us think this will not be sufficient.

What happens after?

Will the Church go back to sleep after the Inquiry? My sense is that the current lead bishops are keen to use this opportunity to bring about as much culture change as they can and I think they recognise that this is required across the top of their Church.

My own view is that a Truth & Reconciliation initiative may be needed, in which bishops end the long procession of crafted apology statements, and apologise for real. But that has to go hand in hand with real justice and genuine repair of lives.

About Stephen Parsons

Stephen is a retired Anglican priest living at present in Cumbria. He has taken a special interest in the issues around health and healing in the Church but also when the Church is a place of harm and abuse. He has published books on both these issues and is at present particularly interested in understanding the psychological aspects of leadership and follower-ship in the Church. He is always interested in making contact with others who are concerned with these issues. View all posts by Stephen Parsons →

← Is the Church of England ready for new moves in Safeguarding?

2 thoughts on “Looking ahead to IICSA report day on Tuesday”

  1. Gilo BBC Radio Sunday. 25mins in. https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m000n4vyReply
  2. Jane Chevous Thank you Gilo, your predictions sound spot on and give us some hope that things will change. I know that you and others are working behind the scenes to do this and am very grateful for all you do.
    I do hope the report calls for independent scrutiny & that this results in a total reform of the core group process, because this is where the real canker is. It’s unfit for purpose and often reabusive. And as you say, fails to hold abusers and especially bishops who do nothing, to account. Nothing is happening to either of the bishops who failed (refused) to respond to my report of clergy rape.
    A redress scheme doesn’t bring justice. I hope the idea of a restorative justice process, including a Truth & Reconciliation commission, does gain traction. Counselling and compensation alone do not bring justice, or repair the rupture of abuse

AUGUST 29 2020 – RESIGNATIONS EN-MASSE TO THE SUPREME GOVERNOR OF THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND – HER MAJESTY THE QUEEN ?

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RESIGNATIONS EN-MASSE TO THE SUPREME GOVERNOR OF THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND – HER MAJESTY THE QUEEN?

‘Gilo’ concludes his Surviving Church article:

“At what point will someone cry out on the floor of the House of Bishops: Enough of all our broken pretence. We must apologise collectively, publicly and authentically for our failure to treat so many survivors honestly; for our insistence on distancing from their stories, our disclosure denials and “no recollections”, our reliance on dysfunctional processes; and in too many instances for our behaviour worse than denial – gaslighting and really cowardly and mean behaviour. Enough. We must do real penance, seek truth and reconciliation, and must reform our episcopal culture and reform our structures right to their bones”

The Catholic Bishops of Chile did just that two years ago – May 2018 – offering their resignations en-masse to Pope Francis:

“We have put our positions in the hands of the Holy Father and will leave it to him to decide freely for each of us,” they said. “We want to ask forgiveness for the pain caused to the victims, to the pope, to God’s people and to our country for the serious errors and omissions we have committed”

Something of the same magnitude must happen here – Bishops and Archbishops – by offering their resignations to Her Majesty The Queen – The Supreme Governor of the Church of England.

Richard W. Symonds – The Bell Society

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Richard W. Symonds – The Bell Society

JUNE 26 2020 – “OXFORD COLLEGE ROCKED BY ALLEGATIONS OF LEAKS AND BLACKMAIL” – FINANCIAL TIMES

ISTOCK

SENIOR members of Christ Church, Oxford, have been accused of “weaponising” the suffering of abuse victims in a further attempt to oust the Dean, the Very Revd Dr Martyn Percy.

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“OXFORD COLLEGE ROCKED BY ALLEGATIONS OF LEAKS AND BLACKMAIL” – FINANCIAL TIMES

Academics at one of Oxford’s richest colleges have presented mobile phone records to support an allegation that the institution’s dean leaked confidential information, the latest twist of an extraordinary governance row.

Trustees of Christ Church, the alma mater of 13 prime ministers including William Gladstone, have been locked in a very public pay dispute with the dean, Martyn Percy, that has so far involved an attempt to oust him from his position, more than £2m in legal fees and a suspected blackmail campaign.

On Thursday the Charity Commission, which has regulated colleges at Oxford and Cambridge since a legal change a decade ago, ordered the two sides to return to mediation. “It is not our job, as charity regulator, to referee disputes,” it said. Both sides had wanted the Commission to intervene after Mr Percy broke off mediation efforts in March.

The college had offered the dean a settlement worth more than £1m to leave his post, which would cover his legal fees of at least £450,000. But senior university figures fear that significant intervention by the Commission could have implications for all Oxford colleges, which, unlike most charities, tend to have large numbers of trustees — academics — who are also paid and therefore have a financial interest in the charity’s spending.

The latest row between Mr Percy and the college centres on who leaked a confidential tribunal judgment that largely vindicated Mr Percy of allegations of impropriety relating to the dispute.

The dean, who is a senior Church of England priest, has consistently denied being the source of the document.

However, Christ Church’s governing body was told last week that Mr Percy’s work phone records show that in February he was in regular contact with the former Conservative minister Jonathan Aitken, who in March circulated the judgment.

Another PDF circulated by Mr Aitken showed its author to be “Martyn Percy”. Mr Percy declined to comment. He has told the college that an old document could have been edited to include new information. Mr Aitken told the FT that he had not received any documents from Mr Percy. He said he had received the document from an unknown email address by the name of “Henry Wolsey”.

The Charity Commission’s powers include firing trustees and ordering an independent review. The head of another Oxford college said, “If [Christ Church] were a school in Hackney, it would already have been taken into special measures.”

The dispute dates back to 2017, when Mr Percy, who had been appointed three years earlier, asked for a pay increase. It escalated after college figures accused him of trying to rig the make-up of the board that set his salary. In return, Mr Percy began multiple employment claims against the college.

The dean survived an initial attempt to oust him last year, when a retired High Court judge largely cleared him of allegations of impropriety. But relations have worsened since, after copies of the confidential judgment were circulated and leaked to the governing body and the media.

Mr Percy has denied speaking to journalists about internal matters. But he handed over a screenshot of his phone calls, which revealed contact with a journalist at the Times newspaper before it published extracts of the judgment.

The college subsequently found multiple text messages and calls between the journalist and Mr Percy. The dean told the college they were regarding his advisory role at the British Board of Film Classification.

Nearly two-thirds of the trustees, mainly academics, have accused Mr Percy of “a consistent lack of moral compass”, and called for the Charity Commission to help to remove him.

The dean, who has been portrayed as a reformer, was the subject of vicious emails by some trustees soon after his appointment in 2014. The issue has raised questions about Christ Church’s statutes, which offer few ways to resolve governance disputes, and its unique structure, with the college and the adjoining cathedral both headed by a dean.

Christ Church, whose endowment was worth £578m as of July 2019, has suffered a series of unrelated embarrassments. A professor was suspended last year, over claims he was involved in the theft of a papyrus, which he denies. Millions of pounds of art, including a painting by Anthony van Dyck, were stolen from the college library in March.

An undergraduate also made an offensive joke about Black Lives Matter protests during recent student hustings.

In a sign of the vicious atmosphere surrounding the dispute with the dean, senior academics reported receiving emails saying that, unless they paid large sums to Mr Percy, confidential documents would be published.

Christ Church said the emails “were reported to the police, and are being treated as blackmail”. The emails were also from an account labelled “Henry Wolsey”, the same name used by the person Mr Aitken says sent him the judgment. Mr Percy declined to comment on the allegation.

Mr Aitken said that the dean had no intention of leaving Christ Church, and instead called for his accusers to be removed. “He’s not going to move for 20 years. Why should he?” the former minister said. “The Augean stables have to be cleaned out — which must mean some departures”.

 

FURTHER INFORMATION

“Charity Commission calls for urgent mediation at Christ Church” – ‘Thinking Anglicans’

“CHRIST CHURCH PR AGENCY LUTHER PENDRAGON COLLUDES WITH FT JOURNALIST [AND ALUMNUS] TO DEFAME DEAN” – ‘ARCHBISHOP CRANMER

 

JUNE 16 2020 – THE CHARACTER ASSASSINATIONS OF DEAN MARTYN PERCY OF CHRIST CHURCH AND BISHOP GEORGE BELL OF CHICHESTER

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THE CHARACTER ASSASSINATIONS OF DEAN MARTYN PERCY OF CHRIST CHURCH AND BISHOP GEORGE BELL OF CHICHESTER

 

The Martyn Percy affair – further comments

What can I say by way of comment over this conflict?  It is quite clear that Martyn has in the past upset the equilibrium and status quo in two powerful institutions.  In the first case, at Christ Church Oxford, a group of senior members have complained about him in his role of Head of House or Dean on two separate occasions.  We, as outsiders observers, have no detailed understanding of the first allegations made against him.   All we do know with some certainty is that a Tribunal was convened under the chairmanship of a retired judge, Sir Andrew Smith.  This found him innocent of the accusations made against him – all twenty-seven charges were dismissed.  Our sympathy for Martyn’s cause is aroused by the fact that he had to endure two years of pressure and stress.  We feel for anyone who, in the course of allegations against them, is suspended from his work and made the object of a campaign of vilification and slander.  Moreover, who was denied the opportunity of even having a preliminary investigation before the Tribunal against him was convened. 

This Tribunal involved the spending of huge resources of charitable money, thought to be over £2 million. Martyn’s own legal costs have been huge.  When the Tribunal verdict was announced, we hoped that the problem would go away.  We might also have hoped that the original accusers might express a little remorse for having spent so much charitable money to further their cause.  But no, the current situation is that the same accusers among the governing body have re-emerged to continue the campaign against the Dean.  This time they are using a quite different set of accusations and a different method of harassing and undermining Martyn.  Having exhausted the procedures afforded to them by the college statutes, the complainants have moved on to attack him using the tools of the quasi-legal structures of the Church of England.

Those of us who support Martyn and his principled stand over a variety of topics in current church debates, are aware that he has made enemies.  As an avowed progressive, he is not easily going to fit in with the prevailing opinions of a largely conservative bench of bishops.  The one particular issue over the past five years that has rattled many cages is the George Bell affair.  Martyn has prominently identified himself with those who regard the posthumous trashing of Bishop Bell’s reputation as contrary to the laws of justice and historical truth.  Many of us, with Martyn, regarded the alacrity with which Church leaders assigned guilt to Bell as being an attempt to show a decisiveness while many other more recent safeguarding allegations were being mishandled.  

The method of assessing and evaluating the Bell evidence was the infamous core group, the same tool that is now being deployed against Martyn himself.  It would not be hard to suggest, to use Gilo’s expression, that, in both case, the core group has been ‘weaponised’ against the subject of the investigation.  This is especially true when the person at the heart of the enquiry has no representation to speak on their behalf.  Again, in both Bell’s case and Martyn’s, similar church establishment mechanisms can be seen at work.  The NST have put Martyn “on trial” without conducting even the most minimal inquiry or interview with him.  The core group contained people who were prosecuting him for their own ends, and were heavily invested in pre-judging the outcome of any investigation.  This is identical to what the Dean had to endure at Christ Church from 2018.

As with Christ Church, so with the NST.  The Dean is forced to pay for his own defence to protect his reputation and integrity.  It was noticeable that the Anglican hierarchy were largely mute when the original Christ Church accusations were aired.  There was a sense that, while support was being expressed by hundreds of individuals across the country and £100,000 raised for legal costs, official support from the Anglican hierarchy was largely absent.

The appeal to the Church of England and its National Safeguarding Team by complaining Christ Church dons to examine accusations against the Dean of Christ Church, has already been explored in Gilo’s piece.  The mention by Gilo of the ‘right part’ of the NST hints at private conversations and plotting at the highest levels of the Church of England taking place with the complainants at Christ Church.  I understand that as far as the lawyers acting for Martyn are concerned, the NST has absolutely no jurisdiction in Martyn’s case.  Martyn is not an employee of the Church of England; he is not being accused of being a danger to children or vulnerable adults.  We also note the “vulnerable adult” terminology used by the NST.  The correct term is “adults-at-risk”, which is defined and deployed in higher education, local government and the NHS.  The NST are out of touch.  The safeguarding issues that are the focus of the enquiry had already been dealt with properly by Martyn, according to University and college protocols. 

Once again, a core group is being used to achieve a particular end.   What we see in the process seems to run counter to natural justice and fairness.  It also seems to take no notice of Lord Carlile’s remarks and the recommendations that were made by him in 2017.  We refer particularly to those that laid out how all interested parties should be represented. These were accepted in total by the Church of England and now they are ignored in what has become a notorious case, ensuring that the whole world is watching (and judging!) the Church of England as it stumbles ahead with a faulty grasp of proper procedures in this complex case.

If Martyn can stand up to the pressure currently being put on him, it could help expose the evident power abuses and appalling misuses of procedure which seem to be operating in the NST.  If the NST were to see sense and pull out of its involvement in the Christ Church debacle, this would have a desirable outcome.  it would allow the NST to be regarded as a properly accountable organisation. No longer would the considerable power of this body be used against individuals without clear and consistent protocols in the way that it operates.  Someone made the decision to allow the NST to enter the treacherous waters of internal Oxford collegiate politics. 

Who was it and what are the systems in place to query and even put a block on such a risky, even impetuous, decision? If, as is likely, the NST comes out of this disastrous intervention with egg on its face, who is going to take responsibility for this financial and ethical car-crash? In many ways this whole episode goes far beyond what Martyn may or may not have done to upset members of his college.  The issue has become one of the church using its legal structures in ways that deny compassion, natural justice and the basic qualities of care.  Once again the Church of England seems incapable of handling its power without hurting and damaging people.  Legalism, the power of money and privilege seem to be prominent.    If the general public sees some of this behaviour and is unimpressed, can we really blame them? 

Another question that is being asked by many of us is this.  If Martyn Percy deserved investigation over safeguarding issues with apparently such flimsy evidence being offered, then why not are other more pressing cases given attention?  There are several outstanding CDM claims against serving bishops which lie on file.  Presumably these can now be activated by victims and complainants? There is the case of Jonathan Fletcher which seems to be ignored by central church authorities, even though it reached front-page headlines of the Daily Telegraph.  If the allegations against Fletcher are even half-true, he still poses a safeguarding threat which should be a priority for the NST.  To focus on Martyn, who poses no such threat, and ignore Fletcher can only be described as a deeply political choice. 

Unless someone explains the real basis for NST involvement in the Christ Church factional disputes, Martyn’s supporters will conclude that the NST has become a political tool at the service of certain unaccountable factions within the Church of England.  If that surmise is correct, one would hope that the General Synod would wake up to this fact and vote the NST out of existence.  We cannot afford to have a rogue structure within the Church which operates with so much secrecy, factionalism and sometimes overt bullying.  Whoever authorised the unleashing of the NST on Martyn Percy has been responsible for taking an enormous gamble with the Church’s assets and reputation.  They have gambled on an outcome which, even if successful at one level, does no credit to the Church.  If the anonymous power brokers are, however, unsuccessful in what they are doing in Oxford, this may have the effect of destroying the NST structure altogether and their future ability to exercise power through it.

6 thoughts on “The Martyn Percy affair – further comments”

  1. Martyn Percy’s intervention re. the appointment of Philip North as Bishop of Sheffield, in the same year his views on the Bishop Bell case were expressed, was another example of his getting up the noses of the powers that be.

    His blog https://theore0.wordpress.com/2017/03/06/abstaining-a-lenten-reflection-on-sheffield-by-martyn-percy/ was widely influential and many saw it as the turning point in the North/Sheffield affair. I have a feeling his card was marked then.

    Though, to be honest, I think almost anyone with real principles in the C of E gets their card marked pretty promptly.

     

  2. I know both men. And consider both to be people in the hierarchy of the Church who speak with integrity in relation to the abuse crisis. And I know that church-context abuse survivors have strong support from each. Martyn was approached by us to write a chapter in Letters to a Broken Church – and wrote an excellent chapter following the Chichester hearings at the Inquiry.

    Philip would have been one of very few bishops we could have approached for a chapter. His interview on BBC Radio 4 Sunday programme was unlike anything we’d heard from any other bishop (with the exception of Alan Wilson). A remarkable interview and one that all Synod members should listen to if they haven’t already. Sadly, our book was already by that stage at print process – so we couldn’t include Philip.

    https://www.thinkinganglica

    Their political or tribal differences aside – both Martyn Percy and Philip North have given their voices courageously as allies to the plight of survivors. I salute them both.

  3. “I understand that as far as the lawyers acting for Martyn are concerned, the NST has absolutely no jurisdiction in Martyn’s case. Martyn is not an employee of the Church of England;”

    I am not an employment lawyer and do not wish to dip into the vexed question of whether office holders are employees, but I am concerned that this line of argument being advanced by Dr Percy’s lawyers will probably consume more costs than most of the other issues in contention.

    The dean of Christ Church is, unusually, paid by Christ Church rather than the Commissioners. Although I don’t have copies of Doe, Hill, Cripps, etc., to hand, he is an ecclesiastical office holder and there are a plethora of statutes and measures which make specific reference to Christ Church as an ecclesiastical corporation, even if there are usually specific provisions in each measure to differentiate Christ Church from other capitular bodies.

    What I suspect has happened is that the students have tried to refer the Woodward case to the NST as a lever to eject Percy. They are gaming the system, and as Stephen notes it is opportunistic and unedifying. The students are probably past caring about that, however, and have reasoned that the ends justify the means.

    Since there is no clear distinction between the position of dean as head of the cathedral and as head of the college they probably approached the NST telling the latter that they have to do something. The NST, no doubt panicked, will have referred the question to the Legal Office. The Legal Office (currently led by a clergyman who was at Christ Church) will probably have advised the NST that they do have standing insofar as Percy is an ’employee’ or ‘office-holder’ qua his position as head of the cathedral, and the want of any distinction between the two aspects of his office means that his safeguarding responsibilities might therefore apply to the entirety of his office.

    Curiously, it is not so long ago that the then second commissioner disclaimed any involvement of the Church of England in the resolution of the dispute:

    https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2018-11-29/debates/6DA9CB26-1373-470D-AAD3-CE9BEDE88743/DeanOfChristChurchOxford

    This question will no doubt consume a great deal of the ET’s time. I strongly suspect that it will result in the office being split in twain, which is probably what a majority of the students now want. Legislation severing the provostship of Oriel from a stall at Rochester was passed in 1875; similar legislation was passed severing the mastership of Pembroke (Oxford) from a stall at Gloucester in 1937, and the mastership of St Catharine’s (Cambridge) from a stall at Norwich in 1927. Many other headships at both universities had been tied to college livings and the headships of all the old colleges bar Merton, Downing and Trinity Hall (plus Keble, St Peter’s and Selwyn) had been reserved to clerics. Splitting the deanery would be the last act in that process.

    1. Sorry, I should have added that the head of the Legal Office was also chancellor of the Oxford diocese until last year (when he became head of the Legal Office), although he is based in London and assists at Holy Redeemer Clerkenwell.

      1. Froghole

        And, of course, it is perfectly possible that the head of the Legal Office had nothing to do with the decision that the NST assume responsibility for this matter, or indeed that the NST sought advice from the Legal Office at all. My statements above were mere conjecture.

         

        MORE INFORMATION

        Thinking Anglicans

MAY 17 2020 – ECCLESIASTICAL AND ‘THINKING ANGLICANS’

Ecclesiastical-Insurance-Logo-for-website

THINKING ANGLICANS – COMMENTS

 

Richard W. Symonds

Janet Fife
Kate

Richard W. Symonds

Think about it Kate. Ecclesiastical – as Church of England’s principal insurers – would have advised on the insurance claim of ‘Carol’ who claimed Bishop Bell abused her as a child. A “kangaroo court” was set up by the Church. She was compensated with a payment of £16,000+. Two extensive legal investigations [Carlile & Briden] have concluded the allegations of ‘Carol’ were unfounded.

One can be forgiven for assuming Ecclesiastical have advised the Church not to formally apologise and fully exonerate Bishop Bell for its part in his character assassination – probably because of the likely claims for considerable damages (eg by Bishop Bell’s niece and others)

We should be regularly reminded of what Revd Graham Sawyer said at the IICSA two years ago [July 2018]:

“The sex abuse that was perpetrated upon me by [Bishop] Peter Ball pales into insignificance when compared to the entirely cruel and sadistic treatment that has been meted out to me by officials, both lay and ordained. I know from the testimony of other people who have got in touch with me over the last five or 10 years that what I have experienced is not dissimilar to the experience of so many others, and I use these words cruel and sadistic because I think that is how they behave. It is an ecclesiastical protection racket and [the attitude is that] anyone who seeks to in any way threaten the reputation of the church as an institution has to be destroyed”

So, Establishment ‘cover-up’ is an art form in the Church of England – of which Ecclesiastical is an integral part [as ‘Gilo’ clearly points out in his carefully-researched ‘Surviving Church’ article].

Will the Establishment figure of Sir Stephen Lamport [‘parachuted in’ to improve the image of two pillars of the Establishment – Ecclesiastical and the Church of England] help to right the wrongs done to victims and survivors of sexual abuse – and victims and survivors of those falsely (or wrongly) accused of sexual abuse?

It would be nice to think so, but I think there’s more chance of seeing flying pigs getting landing rights here at Gatwick.

 

Rowland Wateridge

I’m not sure that there was any insurance cover in that case. The church’s own ‘investigation’ as summarised in Lord Carlyle’s report very much indicates that it was handled wholly in-house, albeit in an utterly shambolic and amateur fashion, without using external expert forensic and legal services.

 

Richard W. Symonds in ‘Thinking Anglicans’

As far as I know, there was no insurance cover, but as 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’:

https://richardwsymonds.wordpress.com/2019/01/13/jan-13-2019-from-the-archives-iicsa-march-2018/

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…”

 

Rowland Wateridge

Kate
Oh, they probably have been involved in the past but you said, “The success of Sir Stephen Lamport’s ‘parachute jump’ into the Church of England Establishment will be measured, by me, on how he deals with the monstrous, continuing injustice done to the wartime Bishop of Chichester George Bell.” Looking forwards, I stilldon’t see how Ecclesiastical as insurer is involved in what is essentially a closed matter and, even if they are, why a non-exec would get involved.
Richard W. Symonds
Then I can’t help you Kate.
David Lamming

Bishop Martin Warner’s answer to Fiona Scolding’s question at IICSA on 14 March 2018 about the involvement of insurers in the settlement of ‘Carol’s’ claim (see the link below in 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.”

The full exchange of Qs and As at General Synod can be read in the Report of Proceedings, July 2016, at pages 58-59:
https://www.churchofengland.org/sites/default/files/2017-10/July%202016%20Report%20of%20Proceedings%20w.index_.pdf

Dec 22 2019 – “Church Safeguarding – Not a prayer” – Private Eye

download (31)

Church House Westminster

https://www.thinkinganglicans.org.uk/update-on-safe-spaces-following-media-report/#comments

Update on Safe Spaces following media report

The Church of England issued the press release below today. It appears to be in response to an article in Private Eye which was tweeted here yesterday.

Update on Safe Spaces following media report
21/12/2019

A spokesperson for the National Safeguarding Team said: “Safe Spaces is planned as a vital support service for survivors of church-related abuse across the Church of England and the Catholic Church in England and Wales.

“The delay in progressing the support service, first officially discussed in 2014, is a matter of regret which the Church of England acknowledges and apologises for. But since the appointment of a project manager and the creation of the Safe Spaces Management Board last year eight survivor representatives from across both Churches are involved in ensuring we find the right organisation to deliver the project.

“Their knowledge, skill and personal experience in shaping the model for Safe Spaces alongside their commitment and support for the procurement process is integral to finding the right organisation to deliver the project.

“All grant money from both churches and ATL has been ring fenced for the project and no money from the £592,000 grant has been spent to date, and no new company has been set up. Pre set-up costs, procurement, project management and development are separate to this and the cost is being shared across both Churches.

“Following an initial procurement process, the Board has agreed that it would not be recommending the appointment of a preferred supplier to deliver the project; this decision was taken in partnership with the survivor representatives.

“Over the coming weeks the Board in partnership with survivors will agree the next steps and the best way forward. Survivor voices remain central to any future success of this new service and their welfare and support is an absolute priority for the Church in its continuing safeguarding work.

“Both churches are committed to supporting survivors of church-related abuse and providing an independent national service for survivors of any form of church-related abuse.”

COMMENTS
Janet Fife

‘since the appointment of a project manager and the creation of the Safe Spaces Management Board last year eight survivor representatives from across both Churches are involved in ensuring we find the right organisation to deliver the project.’ I’m glad they are involving survivors in this, although I suspect they aren’t asking some who have been most vocal. I’m sure Matt Ineson would have something to say – and until the Church is ready to hear him, and Gilo, and “Graham’, and others, it won’t get very far. But as the project manager and board were appointed ‘last year’ –… Read more »

Martin Sewell

The Church seems to have lost the plot on this. One cannot hear of the delay and the associated costs without a rising sense of anger. Questions must be asked and more importantly – answered. This is not said in a vindictive sense but simply to seek an answer to the plainest of questions. “ How did the main thing cease to be the main thing?” The need was there, the victims known, the resource was available. It ought to have been possible to scope and deliver something for survivors within a year, by any team of competent managers. If… Read more »

Fr. Dean Henley

Presumably when she was the Chief Nurse the Bishop of London must have overseen projects far bigger than this one. Why has everyone involved been so inept, had no sense of urgency given their rhetoric on safeguarding. Old school politicians such as Lord Carrington resigned when there were serious failings such as this; why haven’t senior bishops resigned over this pitiful episode? Thank God for Private Eye and a free press!

This doesn’t look good. Depressing really. Am I a fool to be surprised at the prevarication, the EIG involvement and the procurement story, especially 2buy2. “They talk of vanity every one with his neighbour: they do but flatter with their lips, and dissemble in their double heart.” Why not let the survivors run the project completely? OK, I know why not.

June 4 2019 – Revd Nick Flint – Rector of Rusper

STATEMENT DELETION – 2/10/2019

 

TIMELINE

1992/3 – Ball resigns from Gloucester – “The Jimmy Savile of the Church of England – Ball conned and duped everyone – including Bishop Bell” – RWS

2012 – X provides Warner [and Police] with info about Y. Neither are interested, it seems.

2015 – Y alerts Police to the extent of Ball’s abuse. Ball pleads guilty. X was unaware of extent of Ball’s abuse. X close friend with Vickery House. X meeting with Warner.

2016 – Pre-Gibb Harrington police investigation. X approached by Police for information about Y.

2017 – Gibb Report. X now fully aware of extent of Ball’s abuse. Gibb very reliant on the testimony of Y.

 

 

Nick, I note with concern your comment: “In my evidence I also record my repeated concern that as recently as 2016 Martin Warner had not passed on to the Police information I gave him about a suspect.”

Nobody has picked up on this. Not surprisingly the discussion has focussed on the finer details of patronage, as this was the subject of the article.

It’s troubling if any bishop is not acting on information reliably given by a member of clergy or officer within the diocese. And astonishing really that after many layers of failure and cover-up in this diocese have been brought into daylight – this lack of response might still be happening under a current bishop.

I hope the situation has now moved forward a considerable pace since the time of your statement. I’d be surprised if it hasn’t. I imagine you have had help from the IICSA lawyers to ensure a definite response. To my mind the bishop’s inaction would be grounds for a CDM. But that piece of structure has been brought into considerable disrepute with dismissals within the purple circle, time limits, ‘floods’, etc.

Two CDMs brought against Bishop Wallace Benn by the Diocesan Safeguarding Advisory Group (DSAG) were dismissed on the basis of 12 month time limits. It is worth reading the IICSA summary to be reminded just how dysfunctional Bishop Benn’s approach was. And startling to see how easily the time-bar protects bad practice.

https://www.iicsa.org.uk/reports/anglican-chichester-peter-ball/case-study-1-diocese-chichester/b6-complaints-under-clergy-discipline-measure

IICSA says the CDM “is not a suitable tool to deal with ongoing issues of risk management.” That seems a right assessment. But in the absence of anything else that might hold bishops to account, it’s all there is. Sir Roger Singleton brought a recent CDM against the Bishop of Chester for failing to respond to a letter ten years ago. If there’s any consistency, that will be dismissed by the Clergy Discipline Tribunal. And the Measure descend into more of a farce than it already is. One can only assume that Sir Roger’s reason for bringing this CDM was to highlight the farce and demonstrate the total collapse of the CDM. And force the church to address glaring unaccountability.

At the very least, Bishop Martin Warner should be asked to explain his reasons for the inaction. I’m not surprised the media did not pick up on this at the time, as there are so many documents on the IICSA website. Unless a witness lands in front of Counsel in a hearing, much goes past the media who tend to report the ‘big stuff’. The material on IICSA might be source for historians and theologians in the future….

It charts a church in breakage, a gospel in collapse.

Gilo

October 15 2017 – “Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby apologises to sexual abuse survivor ‘Gilo’ for C of E failings”

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/oct/15/archbishop-of-canterbury-justin-welby-apologises-to-sexual-abuse-survivor-gilo-for-c-of-e-failings

Justin Welby apologises to sexual abuse survivor for C of E failings

Archbishop of Canterbury writes personal letter to survivor known as Gilo for his office’s failure to respond to 17 letters

Justin Welby
 Justin Welby’s letter of apology came after a mediation session between Gilo and two senior bishops. Photograph: Victoria Jones/PA

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has personally apologised to a sexual abuse survivor for his office’s failure to respond to 17 letters seeking help and redress.

Three bishops have also urged the Church of England’s insurance company to review its settlement with the survivor, saying they are “very concerned about the way in which the claim was handled at the time”.

In a letter to the Ecclesiastical Insurance Group (EIG), the bishops expressed disquiet that “horse-trading” between lawyers over settlements has had “little concern for the impact” on survivors.

The two letters are the latest developments in a long struggle by Gilo – who is also known as Joe, and whose surname is withheld at his request – to force the C of E to acknowledge both the abuse he experienced as a teenager at the hands of a senior church figure and its failure to respond properly to his disclosures.

Gilo told dozens of C of E figures, including three bishops and a senior clergyman later ordained as a bishop, of his abuse over a period of almost four decades. A highly critical independent report commissioned by the C of E into Gilo’s case said last year that the failure of those in senior positions to record or take action on his disclosures was “deeply disturbing”.

Welby’s letter to Gilo says: “I am writing to say how profoundly sorry I am for all the abuse you have suffered … I am shocked to hear of what has happened to you and the impact over so many years.”

The archbishop wrote that he was aware that Gilo had been “in communication with me here at Lambeth Palace over a period of time. I am sorry that the way your correspondence was handled has not been helpful to you, and has not been to the standard you would expect”.

Gilo received only one response to his letters to Welby, from a correspondence clerk offering prayers.

Welby wrote that he had asked for a review of processes. “There are lessons to learn and I am keen that we learn them and make any changes necessary.”

The archbishop’s letter of apology arose from a mediation session between Gilo and two bishops: Tim Thornton, to whom Gilo says he disclosed details of his abuse in 2003 and who is now bishop at Lambeth; and Paul Butler, the bishop of Durham and the C of E’s lead bishop on safeguarding at the time of the independent review of the case.

In a statement issued on Sunday, the two bishops said they “recognise that the church continues to face serious challenges through its response to survivors” and “these matters need to be faced honestly and squarely”.

Butler and Thornton, along with Alan Wilson, the bishop of Buckingham, also wrote to the EIG to raise concerns. They called on the insurance company to revisit cases “where past practice may have reached a settlement that did not truly match the significance of the impact of the abuse”.

They wrote: “In particular we have been very concerned to hear how ‘horse trading’ around the level of settlements has occurred between lawyers with little concern for the impact such an approach has had on the survivor.”

The bishops suggest the EIG should review the settlement it reached with Gilo. He received £35,000 after the church agreed it was at fault, but pastoral care was cut off following the agreement.

The bishops’ letter said they were “very concerned about the way in which [the case] was handled at the time”. The impact of abuse on Gilo “has been lifelong and continues. It has seriously impacted his health and wellbeing. This in turn has affected his work and finances.”

Gilo has repeatedly criticised the C of E’s close relationship with the EIG and the presence of senior clergy on its board of directors. He has claimed the insurers advised the church to cut off emotional and psychological support in a move that “directly conflicted” with the church’s pastoral and compassionate responsibilities.

He told the Guardian: “It’s a courageous and bold move by these bishops to finally grasp a powerful corporate nettle in such a clear way.

“They are right. The settlement process is a degrading, demeaning horse trade in which the insurer holds all the cards, and can effectively hold a gun against the heads of survivors and our own lawyers. It is a skewered and broken system that doesn’t serve justice.

“The church is finally recognising the cost of impact. And cost, too, for many survivors who have campaigned for change against a silent and discrediting church, and both former and current bishops who have covered up. All those survivors, and the ones who’ve fallen away bitter and angry and left unhealed, need recognition of the cost in their lives and real justice.”

In its reply to the bishops’ letter, the EIG said there was no basis to revisit the settlement agreed with Gilo. It had responded to his complaints about EIG’s handling of his case “with patience and sensitivity”, it said.

The company sought to “see all survivors treated with sensitivity, fairness, compassion and respect, and to achieve reconciliation”.

In a statement, the EIG said: “As independent insurers, we are not responsible for the abuse perpetrated by those for whom the church is accountable. Our role is to handle insured claims for financial compensation fairly for these acts of abuse.

“We and other insurers are bound by comprehensive, industry-wide regulation that oversees the way we operate and handle claims, and by the civil justice system.

“It is not in our gift to change civil law, which defines the claims process. Negotiations between lawyers – characterised in the bishops’ letter as ‘horse trading’ – are a normal part of that process. So are full and final settlements, which bring certainty to all parties within the civil justice system.

“It is, however, in the Church of England’s gift to provide further compensation as well as ongoing pastoral care to victims and survivors of clergy abuse if it so wishes.”

 This article was amended on 22 October 2017 because an earlier version said Gilo had disclosed details to Tim Thornton. This has been corrected to say Gilo says he disclosed details to Thornton.