Tag Archives: Trevor Devamanikkam

JULY 10 2019 – “VICAR TELLS ABUSE INQUIRY ARCHBISHOPS ‘NOT FIT FOR OFFICE'” – ITV NEWS

Matt-Ineson-2

Rev Matthew Ineson

“VICAR TELLS ABUSE INQUIRY ARCHBISHOPS ‘NOT FIT FOR OFFICE'” – ITV NEWS

 

Vicar tells abuse inquiry archbishops ‘not fit for office’

Video report by ITV News Correspondent Rebecca Barry

 

A vicar who says his disclosures about being sexually abused as a teenager were ignored by senior clerics has told an inquiry the archbishops of Canterbury and York are not “fit for office”.

The Rev Matthew Ineson criticised the archbishops as he gave evidence to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) investigation into the Anglican Church.

The vicar called for changes to the way the church investigates safeguarding issues and complaints about clerics, describing the current system as “totally unsuitable”.

The witness told the inquiry how he suffered abuse at the hands of priest Trevor Devamanikkam, who took his own life on the day he was due to appear in court accused of sexual offences against Mr Ineson.

He said he later made disclosures to a number of bishops and archbishops but they were ignored and no further action was taken by the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby when he made complaints against the clerics.

The Archbishop of Canterbury in the Canterbury Cathedral.
The Archbishop of Canterbury in the Canterbury Cathedral.Credit: PA

Mr Ineson said bishops abuse their power to protect themselves and force victims of clerical sexual abuse to face further suffering by not acting upon their disclosures.

He told the inquiry: “Bishops sit on thrones.

“They live in fine palaces and houses, they wear the finest robes and garments, they bully people.

“People literally kneel down and kiss the ring on their finger.”

“Enough is enough – I think the victims are far stronger people than the bishops.”

He continued: “I cannot see the face of Jesus in the Archbishop of Canterbury or York. I see hypocrites and I see Pharisees. I see the people that Jesus stood up against.

“I don’t think those people are fit for office.”

Mr Ineson said he met the Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu at a meeting for survivors of clerical abuse at a General Synod in York.

The witness said: “I’d never seen John Sentamu before and if I ever see him again it will be too soon.

“He came over to me, he came really in my face, too close, he grabbed me by the shoulder and he held me by the shoulder and said, ‘One day me and you will talk’.”

 

Mr Ineson said he asked the archbishop for an apology for his failure to act on his disclosures but Dr Sentamu replied: “Apologies mean different things to different people.”

He told the inquiry: “He’s arrogant, he’s rude and he’s a bully.”

Mr Ineson, who was ordained in 2000 and practised as a vicar in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, for more than 10 years, said he made his first disclosures between 2012 and 2013 to the Bishop of Doncaster Peter Burrows, the then bishop of Sheffield Steven Croft, and the then archdeacon of Rotherham Martyn Snow, but that nothing came of his reports.

He said: “I could not believe it. I could not believe they were doing nothing.”

Mr Ineson went on to make two written disclosures to Mr Croft, now the Bishop of Oxford, and sent copies to the Bishop of Beverley and Dr Sentamu.

He said he wrote in his second letter: “You will never know what it took to tell you but you will also never know of the hurt that you and your suffragan have caused me by doing absolutely nothing about it.”

Mr Ineson told the inquiry that the only person to reply was Dr Sentamu, who wrote: “Please be assured of my prayers and best wishes at this difficult time.”

He said he submitted complaints about the clerics under the clergy discipline measure but was told that the complaints fell outside of the church’s one-year rule.

 

Mr Ineson appealed but told the inquiry that part of the process was to contact those being complained about to ask for their opinion about whether the one-year rule should be extended in their cases.

He said: “Who in their right mind thinks it’s acceptable to write to a priest who is under investigation by the police for child sexual abuse and give him the opportunity to object to being investigated?”

Mr Ineson described the complaints system as “totally unsuitable”.

He said: “Bishop investigates bishop and they’re all conflicted.”

Mr Ineson said he believed that safeguarding should be taken out of the hands of the church so that complaints are investigated by an independent body and that clerical sexual abuse should be the subject of mandatory reporting.

He said: “I have no desire to damage the church at all or bring the church down. The overriding motive for me is to help prevent abuse from happening again.”

 

Mr Ineson continued: “The church is not going to change unless they are made to. They can’t be trusted.”

Giving evidence on Wednesday afternoon, Dr Sentamu said he did not believe he had made personal mistakes in the course of responding to disclosures of clerical abuse.

He said: “Hand on heart, I don’t think so. Where there have been disclosures, I have been willing to apologise to the person, trying to do the best I can to support them.”

When asked about the case of Mr Ineson, Dr Sentamu said he received a copy of the cleric’s letter but assumed the Bishop of Sheffield would deal with it because it was his responsibility.

He said that, if he had behaved at the General Synod in the way described by Mr Ineson, that behaviour would have been “totally inappropriate”.

Dr Sentamu agreed Mr Ineson’s treatment by the Church had been “shabby and shambolic” and said he should have received more support.

He added the police investigation and the complaints issued under the clergy discipline measure meant it took too long to set up an inquiry into his abuse.

Matthew Ineson and the “Review of Trevor Devamanikkam case” – ‘Thinking Anglicans’

Review of Trevor Devamanikkam case

COMMENTS
Matthew Ineson
I was called yesterday afternoon by the NST and the Statement read to me. I disagreed with it and pointed out the untruths in it. I was told my points would be raised with Melissa Caslake. This was not done and the statement was published virtually straight away.

I have NEVER said I will give aural or documentary evidence to the church’s proposed ‘reviewer’, in fact I have categorically said I will not (as the ‘review’ is currently proposed). The reviewer will not get sight of all documents cos she wont get mine until a genuine independent review is agreed. The statement is misleading and contains untruths.
My position remains the same as it always has. This review is a review into how the church handled my disclosures both before and during the police investigation plus events after Devamanikkam’s death. It is wrong, therefore, that the church appoint the person who is going to investigate their actions, write a terms of reference into the investigation (no terms of reference have yet been drawn up anyway) and control the whole investigation into themselves. We have repeatedly asked the church to work with us to have a totally independent review, which they have refused.
The church have appointed their proposed ‘reviewer’ on their own terms and I was told only yesterday by Melissa Caslake that no one from the church has contacted Mr Devamanikkam’s family or representatives to ask if they would like to be involved.
The church are steamrollering ahead, trying to control an investigation into themselves. This is open to corruption.
I would work 100% with a genuinely independent review. This is not it and while the church still try to ride roughshod over victims of abuse like myself (as they have with the publication of this statement) I will not be cooperating and have never agreed to.
Why is the church afraid of a truly independent review?
If, for example, a policeman was facing an investigation into his conduct he would not be the one interviewing and appointing the investigator nor would he be writing the terms of reference. So why should the church in this case?
And what does the proposed ‘reviewer’ actually think she is going to be doing as no terms of reference have yet been drawn up? Who would agree to such a job without knowing what they will be doing?
This is a sham. It is open to corruption. It is bullying again.

April 12 2019 – “Church abuse survivors speak out over handling of Bishop of Chester misconduct complaint” – Chester Standard – Steve Creswell

https://www.chesterstandard.co.uk/news/17567171.church-abuse-survivors-speak-out-over-handling-of-bishop-of-chester-misconduct-complaint/

Church abuse survivors speak out over handling of Bishop of Chester misconduct complaint

Bishop of Chester, Dr Peter Forster.

SPECIAL REPORT

Bishop of Chester, Dr Peter Forster.

SURVIVORS of sexual abuse by members of the clergy have raised concerns about the Church’s handling of a formal complaint against the Bishop of Chester.

The Standard has spoken to two victims of historic abuse who fear a Clergy Discipline Measure (CDM) brought against Bishop Peter Forster will not be judged objectively.

One is priest Matt Ineson who was raped in the 1980s by a Bradford vicar who took his own life on the day of his first court appearance two years ago.

CDMs are the Church’s in-house disciplinary process and are always escalated to the Diocesan bishop – or sometimes the archbishop – to pass judgement.

Critics say the lack of public accountability and ‘behind closed doors’ nature of the complaints procedure make it easy for senior clergy to cover up allegations of abuse.

The CDM filed at the end of March against Bishop Forster relates to reports that in 2009 he ignored a letter from Warrington vicar Charles Gordon Dickenson confessing to child abuse.

Dickenson, now 89, was jailed at Liverpool Crown Court last month after admitting eight counts of sexual assault against a boy in the 1970s.

Chester and District Standard:

Former vicar Charles Gordon Dickenson was jailed for historic child sex abuse.

The Diocese of Chester has accepted its failures, admitting that the letter should have been passed to the police for investigation a decade ago. Dickenson remained free to officiate in the diocese until his retirement in 2014.

The CDM against the Bishop of Chester is being brought by Sir Roger Singleton, interim safeguarding director at the Church and former chief executive of children’s charity Barnardo’s.

It has been confirmed that it will be considered by the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu.

But Mr Ineson and another survivor, who wishes to remain anonymous, say that Mr Sentamu has himself been the subject of a CDM and allege he has previously ignored disclosures of abuse.

Mr Ineson was raped and abused aged 16 by former Bradford vicar Trevor Devamanikkam between 1984 and 1985.

He says his disclosures to the Church fell on deaf ears, leading him to file CDMs in 2016 against five bishops, as well as Mr Sentamu.

However, the complaints were never investigated by the Church because they were brought outside of the 12-month time limit.

Devamanikkam took his own life on June 6, 2017 – the day of his first court appearance.

Mr Ineson and others claim the Church of England (C of E) uses its own arbitrary 12-month rule to block investigations into historic sexual abuse that are more than a year old.

Indeed, permission is still being sought from the Church’s President of Tribunals to bring the CDM against Bishop Forster ‘out of time’.

Mr Ineson told this newspaper: “Victims of church abuse, including myself, have raised concern about Archbishop Sentamu handling the complaint into Bishop Forster as they say he is compromised as he himself has been subject to complaints that he ignored disclosures of abuse and left at least one priest abuser years to go unchecked.

“The priest in my case was eventually charged with six serious sexual offences and killed himself the day he was due in court. The church used the one-year rule to block any investigation into the archbishop and refuse to investigate him.”

In response, a spokesman for the office of the Archbishop of York said: “When a complaint comes to an Archbishop, he routinely considers with the benefit of advice, as to whether there are any circumstances which would make it inappropriate for him to deal with the complaint.

“If he considers there are, then he will ask the other Archbishop to deal with it. As the process has only just begun in this case– still awaiting decision on whether the complaint can be brought ‘out of time’ – there is nothing further to say on this procedure at the moment.”

Chester and District Standard:

Archbishop of York John Sentamu.

The second survivor said he had taken out a CDM against the Bishop of Durham over the handling of his own abuse case, only to see it dismissed by Mr Sentamu. However, he later received a 20-page response from the Bishop of Durham that reportedly expressed “bitter regret” at the way the case was handled.

Both he and Mr Ineson say they have heard of other complaints being either dismissed or no further action (NFA) taken.

The Standard asked the Church of England for statistics on the number of CDMs brought against bishops and archbishops, and their outcomes.

Survivors claim that no bishop or archbishop has ever been disciplined as a result of a CDM.

The only exception is former Bishop of Lewes and of Gloucester, Peter Ball, who was already serving jail time for sexually assaulting 18 teenagers and men between the 1970s and 1990s.

The offices of the Bishop of Salisbury and the Bishop of Lincoln were also approached for the CDM statistics as they are leading a review of safeguarding procedures in the Church.

The Church is not subject to the Freedom of Information Act, and clear figures have not been provided. However, a C of E spokesman indicated that some were available in the annual reports of the Clergy Discipline Commission, which oversees CDMs.

These show that between 2015 and 2017 (the last year for which statistics are available) a total of 19 fresh complaints were made against bishops or archbishops. Some also carried over from previous years.

The reports state that 11 complaints were dismissed, two were NFA, and one ‘penalty by consent’ was imposed in 2015. There was also one ‘prohibition following conviction’, thought to relate to Peter Ball.

The outcomes of the remaining CDMs are not stated and the Church spokesman has not elaborated on these. No names are given in the annual reports.

Full statistics prior to 2015 are not available as complaints records held at Bishopthorpe Palace, the residence of the Archbishop of York, were destroyed in floods at the end of that year.

Chester and District Standard:

Records held at Bishopthorpe Palace near York were destroyed by flood water in 2015.

In 2010 the C of E published the outcome of its Past Case Review (PCR), which was a two-year investigation into historic allegations of abuse across all dioceses.

A subsequent review of the PCR by Sir Roger Singleton found the Church disregarded dozens of allegations.

The PCR examined more than 40,000 files but found that just 13 cases of alleged child sexual abuse warranted formal action.

In June last year, Sir Roger said he believed the Church “downplayed” the issue in public statements to avoid damage to its reputation.

But he also found “no evidence whatsoever of a deliberate attempt to mislead” or that anyone broke the law.

The second survivor who spoke to The Standard said he has little hope that Bishop Forster will be held accountable for failing to report Dickenson’s abuse in 2009, but added that he could be made a scapegoat.

He said: “This CDM looks like selective accountability. What about other bishops who walked away from disclosures? What about the bishops who presided over an industrial-scale whitewash in the Past Case Review period (2008 – 2010) in which many dozens of cases were quietly ignored? What about bishops who’ve denied disclosures and distanced themselves from their own inertia?

“The crisis of the senior layer of the Church of England is that they haven’t found a way of putting hands up to past mistakes and owning their own failure.”

He and survivors group MACSAS (Minister and Clergy Sexual Abuse Survivors) highlighted a report published on April 4 this year by the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE).

A MACSAS spokesman said the document “illustrates the Church of England’s comprehensive failure in the treatment of victims of its own abuse”.

SCIE’s independent research indicates that fewer than one in five people who reported abuse in the church say they received a satisfactory response, and more than half never received any meaningful response at all.

The group spokesman said: “Those of us whose lives have been devastated by clergy abuse know this from long and bitter experience. We are victimized first by our abusers, and again by the church’s ‘defensive responses’ to criticism of its failings.

“For many years the Church of England has responded to the crisis of clergy abuse by saying ‘You can trust us. We’ve got this in hand’. The SCIE report confirms what we have known all along – that the church can no longer be trusted to manage disclosures of abuse.

“We repeat our call that this work should be handed over to a fully independent body.”

There is currently no UK law that requires the mandatory reporting of suspected child abuse – although campaigners have been pushing for such legislation.

However, bishops at the head of their dioceses have responsibility for safeguarding issues and are expected to pass on intelligence about suspected criminal activity to the police.

The Church has stressed it treats all complaints seriously and, aside from the CDM, Bishop Forster’s actions in 2009 are also being investigated by its National Safeguarding Team (NST).

Chester and District Standard:

The Bishop of Chester has said he will make no further public comment until after the NST review.

Bishop Forster has led the Diocese of Chester since 1997 and is said to be the Church of England’s longest serving bishop. He is due to retire by March next year when he turns 70.

In a statement released earlier this month, he said he had delegated all safeguarding matters to the Bishop of Birkenhead until the end of the NST review, which is due to begin shortly.

He said: “I have taken this decision in response to recent comment into my handling of the Gordon Dickenson case in 2009.

“An independent review will seek to identify where any failures in procedures arose, and what lessons can be learned and I look forward to contributing to the review and to giving a full account of my actions in relation to this matter.

“The Diocese of Chester takes seriously its safeguarding responsibilities at every level. Whilst an independent review into my actions takes place, I recognise that I should not continue to lead the safeguarding arrangements in the Diocese.

“I will continue in all other duties relating to my role of Bishop of Chester.

“I will not be making any further public comments in relation to this matter until the outcome of the independent review.”

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Clergy Discipline Measure (CDM) lodged against Bishop of Chester Peter Forster