Closing statement of David Greenwood on behalf of Core Participants Phil Johnson, Rev Graham Sawyer, Professor Julie MacFarlane, AN-A1, AN-A2, AN-A5, and AN-A6
1. Over the last three weeks I have been struck by just how inappropriate an organisation the church is to have charge or care of children or vulnerable adults. Personally I would not want my son to spend a moment in the company of a member of this organisation. Its lack of a coherent structure, the possibility of clerics carving out places where they can abuse, the ability to blame one-another, the defensiveness and lack of accountability are just a few criticisms. If this organisation were a school it would have been closed down a long time ago.
2. Issues of the status of the church in the constitution are the province of others and I see no reason why the church cannot continue doing its good work in other sectors but on safeguarding there has to be a case for (to use the words of Edina Carmi) “de-constructing and then re-constructing with appropriate checks and balances”.
3. Whilst I appreciate you must reserve judgement on the Anglican church until the final inquiry scheduled for 2019, it appears to me and the core participants I represent that Anglican church has proved itself incapable of self-governance in the protection of children in its care.
4. We reject the flaccid policies, apologetic language, excuses and promises of action in the future. Myself and members of MACSAS have worked to point out all the issues for many years but have been met with only a listening ear and half-hearted engagement.
The evidence of Chichester and the church as a whole
5. We have heard a catalogue of lamentable failures in Chichester and at national level.
6. A15 – A survivor of abuse by Army Chaplain Gordon Rideout (who later worked as a priest in the Diocese of Chichester) explained how she had been abused by Rideout as a young girl. She explained how powerless she felt during a court martial process in 1972 in which Rideout had been acquitted. Rideout was later convicted in 2012 of offending against her and others.
7. Phil Johnson – told us his story of having been extensively groomed by Roy Cotton and others, of safeguarding failures and of the danger caused to others by the police investigation having been starved of evidence by Wallace Benn. He explained his attempts to bring failures to light and how he had to go to extraordinary lengths in search of the truth which was never volunteered by the church.
8. Mr Johnson feels DSAs should be completely independent, an independent system of providing counselling support should be introduced and paid for by the church, that a culture change will only come via legislation and criminal sanctions. Overall his life has been blighted but he has tried to turn his experience into positive change by encouraging the church to behave better towards survivors. On one final note he reflected that he often thinks about the person he would have been if the abuse hadn’t shaped his life and missed opportunities.
9. Shirley Hosgood
10. In relation to Bishop Wallace Benn Shirley Hosgood said she felt it was not safe to appoint a youth worker and Bishop Wallace said he was a personal friend and he tried to change my view. It was a difficult phone conversation. She felt the diocese had not learnt the lessons of the Cotton and Pritchard failures. PTOs were being given without looking at the blue files. There were communication failings. Wallace Benn was very angry with her and this stifled communication. Eventually Shirley Hosgood was denied access to an important safeguarding crisis meeting. She felt so side-lined that she resigned.
11. John Hind
12. Bishop John Hind had 2 area Bishops. He failed to supervise their activities and allowed them almost a free reign in their parts of the diocese (Lewes and Horsham).He confirmed he would not break the seal of the confessional even for child abuse cases. He refused to take responsibility for action or inaction in the area of Wallace Benn (Lewes). He now wishes he’d given DSAs unfettered access to the blue files much earlier (they only got access in 2008). He explained how in 2001 with the Data Protection Act coming into force he organised staff to take “ephemora” out of blue files. It is significant and perhaps not unconnected that there was a 27 year black hole in Roy Cotton’s file.
John Hind told us that “there was definitely collusion and conspiracy taking place among abusing clergy in the East (Lewes). It was clear people were working in concert”.
13. Philip Jones told us there came a point at which he became aware that Wallace Benn had misled him about when he knew about Cotton’s 1954 conviction. Wallace Benn had told him he knew only in 2001 but it emerged he had known during the currency of the earlier police investigation.
14. Alana Lawrence (former chair of MACSAS) set out the work of MACSAS. Her Stones cry out recommendations accord with the ones I make on behalf of the Core Participants I represent.
15. Roger Meekings – I won’t repeat his evidence save to say that he was thorough and meticulous reviewer. The notion that he somehow ‘missed’ the crucial evidence relating to Bishop Peter Ball and Bishop George Bell is inconceivable. If it had been available to him he would have noticed it.
16. Ian Gibson – Worked as Bishop’s Chaplain in 2004. He was responsible for filing. Found files in disarray. PTOs were being granted without blue files being checked. 90% of clergy and staff didn’t have a CRB check. He found in a separate cabinet a file for Peter Ball. He was present when Wallace Benn asked John Hind to hold back the blemished Rideout CRB. Bishop Wallace called Ian Gibson a liar and denied the incident.
17. Janet Hind – was undoubtedly sincere in her evidence and her efforts and admitted making mistakes on some safeguarding matters. She drew up a safeguarding policy in 1996. Mrs Hind was overruled on the issue of Michael Walsh in the 1990s and produced her note of the case. On Robert Coles he had admitted abuse to Nicholas Reade (Archdeacon) who told Mrs Hind. She admits she should have told the police but didn’t. She assumed someone else would have told the police. Unfortunately everyone else presumed that she had.
18. Edmund Hick (Sussex Police) agreed that if he had known of the conviction of Cotton during the first investigation its complexion may have been different. He said it was routine to get previous convictions on arrest. He added that if he had known about the 2003 complainant the file would have been re-opened. He said the Diocese seemed to resent statutory agencies and the police and other safeguarders had to drag them into the 21st Century. It has been hard at times. He later worked on the Diocesan Safeguarding Advisory Group which was disbanded (he suspected he and others on the group were being a nuisance). He was effectively sacked for trying to bring his professional expertise to bear and being involved in the disciplinary action against Wallace Benn.
19. Wallace Benn – complained bitterly that Roger Meekings had turned speculation into fact. When it was put to WB that he had agreed with a chronology setting out his knowledge of Cotton’s activities which included him knowing about the 1954 conviction in 1998 he said “I was busy at the time and only gave it a cursory look. I corrected it later in 2008. WB maintained he didn’t know about Cotton’s conviction until he saw Cotton’s declaration in 2001. He maintains any paralysis from the diocese was self-induced. He said he had inherited a paedophile ring of priests. Overall he said “I could have done some things better but I was cleared of the CDMs made against me”. He regarded the Safeguarding Adviser’s criticism of him as ‘Nit-Picking”.
20. Rupert Bursell – was a commissary for the Arch Episcopal Visitation. Its findings were in summary that :-
· The Diocese of Chichester was slow to identify abuse taking place.
· Dysfunction caused mainstream reports of abuse to be sidelined.
· Safeguarding was not at the forefront of the Diocesan agenda
21. Julie Macfarlane – Survivor and law professor recounted her abuse and the difficulties she faced with the adversarial civil justice system. She and many of the other Core Participants I represent found the process retraumatising, especially the ‘hostile’ adversarial psychiatric assessments.
22. Bishop Mark Sowerby – identified a sub culture which accepted sexual abuse of children around Lewes. There are basic patterns involving Anglo-Catholics mainly not married. Most abusers were single and looked out for each other. They were a “tribe”. If threatened they responded by defending one another, regardless of the threat – even if it was an allegation of child sex abuse.
23. Bishop Martin Warner – MW doesn’t want to see safeguarding go to an independent body on the basis that he wants Parishes to take responsibility. MW would like to see a laminated card with the top 10 safeguarding issues rather than a long book. He thinks he should explore what can be done with a website. He doesn’t think Mandatory Reporting is the way to protect children. On the confessional he wants to keep it in its present form as it enables disclosure and the unburdening of survivors.
24. Former Archbishop Rowan Williams – confirmed that despite the abuse allegations emanating from the Catholic Church he mistakenly thought the problem was far smaller in the Anglican church. The Past Cases Review press release read to the effect “We have done a thorough review and are certain that the church has no problem cases”. RW admitted this was “an ambitious statement” (In our view it was entirely misleading). On the confessional he is in favour of preserving the seal as he says it allows vulnerable people to use the space. He admits we can’t know how big a problem it is due to the secret nature of the conversations. Under his watch, The Church appears to have wasted over £2m on an ill-conceived review that only identified 13 problematic cases from 40,000 clergy. Even a fraction of this figure could have provided significant amounts of support for survivors.
25. Bishop Nicholas Reade – On Roy Cotton he told Wallace Benn about the police investigation in to him in Dec 1997. NR personally took no further action until 12 months later when Cotton told him his ordination had been postponed due to earlier trouble (organ loft issue). He didn’t say there had been a conviction. NR said “It didn’t occur to me to ask (about a conviction) I take priests at their word. The idea of a priest telling lies to a Bishop horrifies me”. This typifies how the present system relies on trust and why reporting should be mandated. On the issue of Robert Coles he tried to minimise the seriousness of a serious sexual assault of a boy by Rideout as a way of justifying not reporting the confession Coles had made to him to the police despite him being aware that Coles had made a “no comment” interview to the police. “He never admitted rape” was Bishop Reade’s declaration. He felt Eric Kemp should have made the decision.
26. Colin Perkins – was clearly getting on with his work within a flawed system. We had the impression that his system works because of him taking the issues seriously whereas in other dioceses with weaker DSAs or more forceful Bishops the same mistakes as in Chichester can occur. Chichester is often now held up as a beacon of good practice. This has not happened out of the desire for the church to change and improve. It is a reaction to the crisis and has been driven by the pressure and determination of the survivors in their fight for truth and justice.
27. Sir Roger Singleton – was critical of the Past Cases Review, its methodology and how it created a false rosy picture about safeguarding problems in the church. He made the point that files are very poorly kept and the press statement on the Past cases review was “under-evidenced”.
28. A8 and A7 described in detail how they were groomed and abused by Bishop Peter Ball and again the difficulties faced in the civil justice process.
29. Bishop David Walker – explained that there is no outside control over religious communities.
30. Graham Tilby – explained in great detail (and sometimes in management speak) the efforts being made to improve the system in the church notably on training and the ability of DSAs to overrule Bishops. There was criticism that improvements were very slow and that following guidance is still not mandated.
31. Edina Carmi – recounted her findings that there were unacceptable practices at the Cathedral and then a resistance to allow her to do her work, then attempts to destroy all copies of her report.
32. A11 – the boy chorister who had been abused by Terence Banks and suffered with debilitating mental health issues. He complained again of the harmful nature of the compensation process.
33. Dean Peter Atkinson – said “I can see John Treadgold would have been defensive with the police. At the time of his retirement he burned a number of files. He had left the Deanery and returned, removed files from the basement and had a bonfire in the garden. I don’t know what the files were. They might have been Chapter files but could have been his own. We found it odd and told the police.”
34. Elizabeth Hall – (former national safeguarding adviser) gave her opinion that :-
· This can happen anywhere (not just in Chichester).
· People can abuse in plain sight
· These men are obsessed with creating safe places for them to abuse and take care to carve out spaces.
In questioning Ivor Frank asked about document ACE006654_002 which relates to the Bishop of Peterborough having a massive bonfire of documents when he retired. She said there is a theological underpinning to this – to give his successor a fresh start.’ She is also aware that clergy remove and keep documents in their attics after retirement.
35. Justin Welby – agreed that he has no real power and can only use his influence. He was non-specific about his views on many of the suggested changes.
36. Bishop Peter Hancock – He agreed the man in the street won’t know what giving “due regard” means legally and thinks there should be a change to clarify this. He agreed there should be a separate procedure on capability in the CDM. He agreed DSAs should be recruited nationally and work locally. Discussions are starting on a redress scheme. He agrees the seal of the confessional should not apply to child abuse. He is working on improvements to monitoring PTOs including a register with Crockfords. He refused to agree the church should implement Mandatory Reporting, instead stating it is the responsibility of everyone in the country to report. He feels the church is as close as it can get to MR.
37. For structure I return to the four essential ingredients which have prevented good safeguarding responses.
a. Internal rules (including disciplinary rules, secrecy and rules on the confessional and lack of mandatory reporting);
b. The limitations of Hierarchical structures;
c. Church Culture;
d. The Church’s Unincorporated status.
We have heard that the development of internal rules within dioceses was hap hazard, with Janet Hind committing them to paper in 1997 and not until 2004 did we see basic national rules. Over the last 2 years we have seen a torrent of new internal guidance. We question whether DSAs actually have the power to overrule a Bishop due to the employer/ employee relationship.
Mandatory reporting is still a long way off for the church. Even the October 2017 rules still only require “due regard” to be taken to the guidance.
It should be noted that at every turn you have heard Bishop after Bishop find ways to keen oversight structures in house. There has been strenuous resistance of external oversight in the face of the evidence.
Colin Perkins is held up as a model of how things are alright now. The reality is that the church does not have a Colin Perkins in each diocese. Systems have to be designed to be operated by mediocre or even poor employees. In our view the church’s systems are inadequate on almost all levels.
The CDM has been exposed as a hopelessly cumbersome instrument with impenetrable rules. No-one has been successfully disciplined for failing to report abuse. It has been shown to be ‘Not fit for purpose’ in safeguarding matters. Some changes have been made but a vulnerable complainant has to be aware of it in the first place, be able to interpret the rules. There is a need for independent arbitration and a child abuse procedure. PTO is still open to abuse.
The lack of Mandatory reporting has allowed the Chichester cover ups and failures to happen. All the bishops and DSAs would have been required to report yet we have heard or repeated failures to alert the police.
Centralised Rules on records need to be stringent and there needs to be document retention. Again these need to be fully mandated. We have heard of files being filleted, that safeguarding reports could have been thrown away. We have head of at least two bonfires of papers and that this may have been a widespread practice at the end of Bishops’ times in office.
38. The Church of England operates a highly hierarchical structure with the Diocesan Bishop sitting at the top of the pyramid and having the last say on all matters relating to safeguarding. Whilst an attempt has been made at diluting this structure with the implementation of Diocesan Safeguarding Advisers and allowing them to overrule a Bishop it will still take a brave and self-confident person to do this as they still owe their actual employment to the Bishop and can find themselves bypassed if the Bishop does not agree with their decisions.
We have heard of cultures of deference, factional cultures, anglo-catholics, evangelicals, tribes, middle ground being shut out. We have certainly seen Egos on display. Wallace Benn, Philip Jones and Nicholas Reade were certainly not shrinking violets. These differing cultures created conflict in Chichester and they are no doubt causing problems right now elsewhere in the country.
However the most important culture in the church is the defensive culture. None of our complainant witnesses have described having been welcomed and assisted at any point by church officials. Instead there are attempts at all levels to minimise the seriousness and volume of cases. For instance Rowan William’s evidence on the past cases review which was in fact an attempt to minimise the problem. Julie Macfarlane’s legal claim was resisted on the basis she was out of time and consented to it. There have been repeated attempts to resist Phil Johnson’s questions to get to the truth. The church at National level was prepared at one point to sacrifice Bishop John Hind to minimise the spread and protect Rowan Williams. We have heard some of the skulduggery around Peter Ball which we will hear more of in July, particularly around the Tyler report. The Halliday and Waddington cases elsewhere have demonstrated this is happening elsewhere.
The church and Justin Welby may have you believe that most of this is caused by having a hapless disorganised and disjointed structure. In reality the evidence demonstrates the church institutions have worked in concert to resist cases. It could be said that the Catholic Church’s more brazen approach to resisting cases due to their written rules on secrecy is actually less malign than the Anglican resistance which has requires conscious effort to treat survivors badly.
We have heard that the church is a very loose structure of unincorporated bodies and individuals with no strict system of control. They are not corporate and so not accountable. Better responses and serious attention to good safeguarding practice will only be achieved through serious sanctions such as fines, withdrawal of charitable status or closure of the offending organisations. Our recommendations to remedy this issue are set out below.
It will be for the panel to decide on the evidence but on behalf of the Core Participants I represent we will be asking the panel to agree the following :-
1) That the Anglican Church is unable to effectively respond to child sexual abuse risks. What is required is legislation to introduce mandatory reporting. Legislation is also required to introduce an independent statutory body to enforce basic standards of safeguarding. This statutory body would establish:
2) A Register of Institutions fit to look after children.
3) It would be an offence to look after children without being on the Register.
4) To be on the Register the institution will have to introduce a corporate structure.
5) The registered institution should be forced to adhere to the minimum standards of safeguarding regulation.
6) The independent body would have the power to prosecute organisations for breaches of regulations. Fines would be imposed for breaches. Organisations could be prevented from working with children.
7) All complaints would be passed to this independent body by any receiving institution with a criminal sanction for failing to do so.
8) The body would gather information from complainants, regulated institutions and third parties. It would have the power to compel disclosure of material.
9) The body would liaise with and assist civil authorities such as the Police and Social Services. The body would ensure that police and other statutory organisations are taking appropriate action within reasonable timescale.
10) The body would investigate complaints using a “balance of probabilities” standard of proof. There would be no statute of limitations under this scheme. The independent body would have the power to make awards of compensation similar to the CICA. It would have the power to decide on the support to be offered to a complainant and a scheme would be established to provide adequate compensation taking into account the effects on quality of life and a series of factors.
11) Complainants will be allowed to take advice from lawyers and a contribution to legal costs would be awarded.
12) The cost of the body’s work would be paid from a levy on institutions and those culpable would pay for the costs of dealing with individual cases in which they are involved.
Report potential offences
Having read through a great deal of the evidence gathered so effectively by the lawyers to the Inquiry we see that there are individuals whose conduct may require referral to the police. I ask the panel to consider referrals.
Commission of Inquiry
I do also ask the Panel to consider a recommendation that a permanent Commission of Inquiry is set up to carry out investigations elsewhere in the church and in other bodies similar unregulated bodies.
23 March 2018