IICSA Anglican Inquiry
Wider Church Investigation
Opening on behalf of MACSAS and AN-A1 to A6, Phil Johnson, Julie MacFarlane, Graham Sawyer and Rev Matthew Ineson
- The Anglican Church can be a force for good. It creates communities. It can help those in need. There are very many worthy people doing much good, but from a safeguarding perspective the Anglican Church presents us with a huge unregulated area of activity. It is a magnet for the vulnerable. It draws in children to youth groups, choirs and for spiritual guidance.
- We have seen through previous investigations in Chichester and Peter Ball that it is a place where paedophiles have good reason to feel safe.
- I will not dwell on the obvious problem of the church’s web-like structure. I have advocated a more corporate structure will bring accountability, fines and the enforced raising of standards. At present we have Bishops as the final arbiters on safeguarding responses. This brings inconsistency and the temptation to protect individual and the organisation’s reputation. We must find a way to break this dangerous safeguarding structure.
- The Church has tried to plug the holes exposed by the Chichester Inquiry. It has introduced many detailed responses some of which are an improvement but as we will see from the evidence of Jo Kind of MACSAS they are inadequate and a smoke screen to get through the current scrutiny.
- The Gen Synod document GS2092 is a report by the National safeguarding steering group of 2018. Its reference is ACE026363. It recommends that clergy, lay readers, churchwardens, and PCCs have “due regard” for guidance issued by the House of Bishops. This phraseology is inadequate. Only the mandatory referral externally would be acceptable to MACSAS.
- On changes to the clergy discipline measure, the church is “considering external scrutiny”. This obfuscatory language demonstrates an unwillingness to change unless forced to do so by legislation. Again here independence is needed to enforce dismissals, fines and awards of compensation. Cultural change will only come about through the enforcement of tough penalties.
- The GS2092 document argues that independent oversight would mean the church contracting out of its responsibilities. In fact what happen if independence is not introduced is that once the heat of IICSA scrutiny and potential legislation dies down the church will revert to type. It will continue to deal with issues quietly and internally. This is what organisations with reputations to protect do.
- All the measures announced fail to deliver true independence or mandatory reporting. If a bishop wishes to avoid reporting to the police or social services he or she can still legally do so even after the introduction of the new proposed initiative. Bishops are hopelessly conflicted in their duties. On one hand, they have the good name of their dioceses and staff to protect. On the other, they are tasked with responding well to allegations of abuse. The proposed ombudsman service is a figleaf. It would only covered those persistent and strong enough to complain about the poor handling they have already endured. It is clear that the church is unwilling to commit to independence.
- The National safeguarding steering group ACE026363 proposal uses vague wording such as agreeing to “develop and analyse options: develop proposals: consider findings: commission a working group: and undertake an analysis”. There is no commitment by the church to relinquish control of responses to safeguarding concerns. This is deliberate behaviour. The church is trying to buy time until IICSA goes away. MACSAS is not going away and I hope the IICSA recommendations will be very forceful.
- Until true independence is established there remains a concern that the National safeguarding team has insufficient power to intervene where poor safeguarding compliance exists. It is not clear whether bishops, Deans and Archbishops can prevent the National safeguarding team having access to documents and staff within their organisations and only the establishment of a truly independent body to manage church safeguarding operations, established through legislation can ensure proper oversight. Church officeholders and employees are a fairly small and close-knit community. As your hearings have so far demonstrated, bonds of loyalty to each other and the organisation are strong and can easily override official policy. Only external independent decision-makers can avoid this real risk.
- I should share with you the comment from a core participant who commented that the tears shed by Justin Welby in his first appearance here were not tears of shame but were tears arising from the realisation that his organisation and his office has been found to have failed. It has placed too much emphasis on protecting clergy and bishops and has allowed children to go unprotected. They were tears at being caught out. The core participant told me it is actually the church that should be ashamed of the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury. We have seen how George Carey felt a compulsion to protect one of his bishops. We know that David Hope protected Robert Waddington. There is evidence that Bishops continue to be protected by Mr Welby.
- On internal discipline the Clergy Disciplinary Measure procedure must surely be another embarrassment for the church. Its ludicrous rules have led to complaints being timed out after a year and many claims being dismissed or decisions to take no action taken all without independent scrutiny. What kind of discipline measure has impenetrable rules, allows an alleged perpetrator to comment on whether a case can be considered out of time, and (as per the CDM 2018 report attests only 90 complaints covering over 20,000 members). The CDM summary report tells us that most of the 90 were either dismissed by the Bishop, had no action taken or a penalty by consent imposed. Only 7 reached consideration by the President of Tribunals. Only four were dismissed from office (these came after criminal conviction). It bears no relation to most employer/ employee disciplinary codes.
- Interestingly, 24 complaints were made against Bishops. All apart from the 6 still outstanding were dismissed or no action taken by Messrs Welby and Sentamu.
- We will hear from Matthew Ineson in week two about his appalling treatment by Bishops which prompted Mr Welby to take no action despite a catalogue of inaction and lies. It seems Mr Welby is continuing in Mr Carey’s footsteps by protecting his Bishops.
- We now know that the church has regular business meetings to manage its reputational risk. Discreditting Matthew Ineson has been discussed. We also know the church is convinced it can resist any recommendations IICSA may have to introduce independence into the safeguarding process. When it comes to safeguarding this is a thoroughly disreputable organisation which cannot be trusted.
- We will hear today from AN-A4 about how he tried to tell literally dozens of senior church people over 3 decades and was not taken seriously. Some have forgotten his disclosure. Some have not. He complains of the withdrawal of counselling as soon as a civil claim was intimated. A core group was established without his knowledge and without him being invited to attend. It discussed damage limitation rather than his welfare. He is concerned at a conflict of interest between the church insurer and the church which has staffed its board.
- On the subject of the past cases review we will hear from Roger Singleton who is rightly critical of the woefully inadequate terms of reference and treatment of the data. The review resulted in the church declaring it had a clean bill of health when nothing could have been further from the truth. The church treated us all like children. It lied to us and it lied to the children and their parents who put their trust in the church. It put them at unacceptable risk and until the Past Cases Review is re-run with an in depth analysis children are still at risk in this church.
- For all these reasons I ask the panel to find that a) the Anglican Church is unable to effectively respond to child sexual abuse risks,b) Legislation is required to
- i) enact mandatory reporting. .
- ii) create an independent statutory body to enforce basic standards of safeguarding. This statutory body would establish:
- A Register of Institutions fit to look after children.
- It would be an offence to look after children without being on the Register.
- To be on the Register the institution will have to introduce a corporate structure.
- The registered institution should be forced to adhere to the minimum standards of safeguarding regulation.
- 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.
- All complaints would be passed to this independent body by any receiving institution with a criminal sanction for failing to do so.
- The body would gather information from complainants, regulated institutions and third parties. It would have the power to compel disclosure of material.
- 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.
- 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.
- Complainants will be allowed to take advice from lawyers and a contribution to legal costs would be awarded.
- 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.
28th June 2019