Tag Archives: John Smyth

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

Bishop Hancock challenges the Synod on safeguarding

07 JULY 2019

SAM ATKINS/CHURCH TIMES

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SAM ATKINS/CHURCH TIMES Phil Johnson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Archbishop Welby’s judgement and integrity are being called into question, yet again” ~ Richard W. Symonds

“Smyth abuse – Survivors dispute Welby claim” – Church Times – Madeleine Davies

 

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Archbishop Justin Welby

“The Archbishop’s judgement and integrity are being called into question, yet again” ~ Richard W. Symonds

April 18 2019 – “Smyth abuse – Survivors dispute Welby claim” – Church Times – Madeleine Davies

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Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby

https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2019/18-april/news/uk/smyth-abuse-survivors-dispute-welby-claim

 

SURVIVORS of abuse perpetrated by John Smyth have written to Lambeth Palace to correct the Archbishop of Canterbury’s assertion that Smyth was “not actually an Anglican” — a comment made during an interview on Channel 4 News last week.

In total, the letter lists 14 points of dispute about the Archbishop’s comments.

During the interview on Friday, which explored the Church of England’s response to Smyth’s abuse, Archbishop Welby said that Smyth “was not actually an Anglican. The church he went to in South Africa was not Anglican, and Iwerne was not part of the Church of England.”

Smyth was living in South Africa when a disclosure of abuse was made in Ely diocese in 2013, and died there last year. He was a former chairman of the Iwerne Trust, which ran holiday camps for boys at English public schools, and is now part of the Titus Trust. A six-month Channel 4 News investigation, broadcast two years ago, found that both the Iwerne Trust and Winchester College had learned of allegations of abuse by Mr Smyth in the 1980s, but failed to report them to the police (News, 10 February 2017).

One of the survivors who wrote to Lambeth Palace this week, Graham*, described the claim that Smyth was not an Anglican as “farcical”, given that he worshipped in the C of E.. The letter tells the Archbishop that Smyth had in fact been a licensed Reader in the diocese of Winchester.

A spokesperson for the diocese of Winchester said: “When the allegations first came to light we reviewed our records. There was nothing to suggest that John Smyth had had a formal role within the diocese and so no further investigation was undertaken.”

Graham also listed the many links between the Iwerne Trust and the C of E, pointing out that survivors in the United Kingdom and trustees of the Trust — some of whom were ordained — had attended Anglican churches.

In his interview, Archbishop Welby said: “The Church of England was never directly involved, but we take responsibility because there was a Church of England clergyman, though not on the payroll, who was in charge of the Iwerne Trust and there were Anglicans there . . .”

He also emphasised that the allegations did not pertain to the Iwerne Trust’s camps — the abuse had taken place at Smyth’s home.

But Archbishop Welby did not mention that the report commissioned by the Iwerne Trust and compiled in 1982, prompted by a suicide attempt by a survivor, was written by a C of E priest, the Revd Mark Ruston, when he was Vicar of Holy Sepulchre with All Saints, Cambridge. It described what it called the “beatings” of 22 young men.

“The scale and severity of the practice was horrific . . . eight received about 14,000 strokes: two of them having some 8000 strokes over three years.”

The contents of the report were disclosed to a number of Anglican clergy. Smyth went on to live in Zimbabwe, where he continued to run holiday camps — Zambezi Ministries — and South Africa.

“Had any one of these men spoken out about what they knew, upwards of 60 African children might not have been viciously beaten, and Smyth might have faced the justice he deserved,” the letter says.

Archbishop Welby told Channel 4 News that he had had “no idea” of Smyth’s abuse until 2013. “I heard a report about an allegation of abuse; it was made in Ely diocese, and the Bishop of Ely had contacted the statutory authorities . . . and I wrote to the Primate in South Africa.”

In fact, it was the Bishop of Ely, the Rt Revd Stephen Conway, who wrote to the Church in South Africa.

Asked about a promised review, Archbishop Welby told Channel 4 News that it could not take place until the Church had secured the participation of the other organisations involved: a reference to Scripture Union, Winchester College, and the Titus Trust.

“Unless you can get everyone in you are never going to get anywhere near the truth,” he said. “We’ve written to them; we’ve not had answers from all of them; and I would very much like them to reply promptly and quickly, and let’s get on with it and discover what we need to learn.”

Several survivors of Smyth’s abuse have launched a civil claim against the Titus Trust (News, 24 August 2018), and it is understood that the Titus Trust will consider a review only once these have been concluded (News, 1 March).

Graham suggested that it was “perverse that the decision as to which organisations should have the veto on a review has been taken before the review itself, when all of the facts are not yet known”.

He also disputed the Archbishop’s comment that there had been “very rapid contact” with the survivors, and that the bishop in charge of safeguarding and safeguarding officers had met them.

On Tuesday, a spokeswoman for Lambeth Palace declined to clarify the Archbishop’s comments but said that he hoped to meet survivors “as soon as possible”.

*Name changed to protect anonymity

 

OTHER STORIES

Sorry not enough, Archbishops’ letter says after IICSA — and a survivor agrees

26 Mar 2018


‘I am ashamed of the Church’, Archbishop Welby admits to IICSA hearing

21 Mar 2018


John Smyth QC, 77, accused of shed beatings, dies in Cape Town

13 Aug 2018


George Bell: the life matched the legacy

01 Feb 2019


UK news in brief

18 May 2018


Archbishop Welby apologises for ‘mistakes’ in case of George Bell

24 Jan 2019

Feb 20 2019 – “‘General Synod has no confidence in the Church of England’s capacity to regulate its own safeguarding culture'” – Martin Sewell – ‘AC’

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http://archbishopcranmer.com/general-synod-no-confidence-safeguarding/

 

MARTIN SEWELL

“Was this not the process that created the Bishop George Bell debacle? The Church of England leadership will still not follow the plain and increasingly irritated advice of its independent investigator Lord Carlile, who said: “The Church should now accept that my recommendations should be accepted in full, and that after due process, however delayed, George Bell should be declared by the Church to be innocent of the allegations made against him….

“If witnesses accounts and denials of knowledge (if appropriate) are not captured in a timely way, may not their reputations be placed “under a cloud” of complicity in the cover-up by some future archbishop without evidence, just as Justin Welby has tainted the memory of Bishop George Bell? Justice requires due process to victims and those under suspicion alike. We are woefully failing many in this case”

COMMENTS

Len

“The church in trying to preserve its reputation has all but lost it. Kicking allegations ‘into the long grass’ and then throwing long dead Bishops ‘under the bus’ has all added to the loss of credibility of the church and its hierarchy…