IICSA Anglican 2nd – 12th July 2019 Closing statement Switalskis

IICSA Anglican Inquiry

Wider Church Investigation

Closing on behalf of MACSAS and AN-A1 to A6, Phil Johnson, Julie MacFarlane, Graham Sawyer and Rev Matthew Ineson



Chair, panel: we act for ten victims of Anglican clerical sexual abuse and the survivors’ support group MACSAS.

Welby’s apology

  1. May I deal with one matter immediately. Yesterday, the Archbishop of Canterbury flourished a letter he says he wrote to Mr Inneson in 2017. That letter was disclosed to the Inquiry yesterday and then, to us, shortly before you came in at 2 pm. Mr Inneson has not had a chance to respond to it. The Archbishop relied on the final paragraph of that letter to suggest he had given Mr Inneson an apology. Mr Inneson does not accept that. His objection is to the words ‘deeply sorry….from your description of how this has been dealt with by the Church’. I am not sure it is even grammatical. It is certainly mealy mouthed. It does not frankly accept the Church treated him badly.
  2. Yesterday was an opportunity for the Archbishop to give a full apology – in public and in Mr Inneson’s presence – for what the Archbishop accepted was the ‘shabby and shambolic’ way Mr Inneson was treated by the Church. He sat there, the most powerful man in the Church, and Mr Inneson, sat behind, waited and waited and waited – as he has been for years. That was more than just a discourtesy to Mr Inneson. The Archbishop still ‘doesn’t get it’.A national, independent regulator
  3. I turn to the main body of my submissions.
  4. The Anglican Church is the first of the major institutions to face a final reckoning in this Inquiry. The Anglican Investigation, with all its component parts, is a case study par excellence for why there must be:
  5. a national, state-sponsored, independent, regulator of the child-care sector;
  6. a corporate structure for those who want to care for children.
  7. It is why I wish in this address to:
  8. suggest, tentatively, the beginnings of a more general theory of institutional abuse, to help answer the question: Which institutions pose the greatest risk to children?
  9. Explain why, if the theory is correct, there is a need for a national, state-sponsored, independent regulator of the child-care sector.
  10. This is not to replace the Church’s own steps to regulate itself. It is on top of that. Our essential point is: we do not care about the peculiarities of your byzantine institution comprised of 42 medieval fiefdoms, governed by centuries old Canon Law. You fix that if you can. It is your responsibility in every parish and every diocese. But you will comply with minimum standards set by a national regulator that apply to every registered institution that cares for children. No special pleading.
  11. What must not happen – and what we say would be a fools’ errand for you – is to attempt to make specific recommendations for each of the immensely complicated organisations you have to consider. Extensive though this inquiry is, you are still only considering a few institutions. What about all those institutions you will not be able to scrutinize?
  12. The regulator must be completely independent and, just as importantly, be seen to be independent.
  13. We first suggested a national, independent, regulator of the child-care sector at the conclusion of the Downside/Ampleforth case study in December 2017. At the time, it seemed a bold submission. It no longer seems a recommendation of the best, but one of absolute necessity.
  14. Others were content to limit their recommendation to mandatory reporting. The evidence has moved on. Even the Archbishops of Canterbury and York now accept mandatory reporting is a ‘no-brainer’.
  15. No change
  16. I will not, with great respect to the Survivors of clerical abuse – particularly those who have given evidence before you, some without anonymity – be dwelling on the litany of abuse, failed safeguarding and cover-up that you identified in your report into Chichester and Peter Ball and have heard yet more in this strand. All I will say, is that the evidence confirms that, despite the Church being anxious to be on best-behaviour in front of this Inquiry, the problems persist:
  17. An Archbishop of York who tells you that the ‘Voices of the abused must be heard” but takes advantage of a 1 year limitation period under the CDM against Mr Ineson.
  18. The same Archbishop who, only a few weeks ago, ordained his wife without, exceptionally, the very training he says is so badly needed. At the very least, he did not stop to think how this might be perceived as an abuse of power.
  19. A priest, AN-X7, who refused to accept it was wrong in principle for a convicted child-abuser to be on the parochial church council.
  20. And how the Church and its principal insurer EIG act together to deny pastoral support to victims and, before this Inquiry, refuse to disclose the privileged material that would reveal if they are telling the truth about it. And this is the insurer who is widely regarded as the most benevolent of the insurers claimants face in litigation.
  21. You have heard the same defensive narrative we have heard elsewhere:
    1. We did not know;
    2. We forgot we were told;
    3. I was only cc’d to the correspondence;
    4. If we were told, we could not believe it;
    5. We need more training and policies;
    6. The past is a foreign country. You are judging the past by the standards of today.
    7. Give us time.

22. They did know. They were told. They did believe it. They had training and policies galore. Child abuse is and always has been regarded as a grave crime. They have had so much time.

23. You will recall in the Downside inquiry how in 1972 the headmaster of Downside did what he was supposed to do with great alacrity when he discovered abuse: sacked the priest, informed the statutory authority and recommended defrocking to the Holy See.

24. And we heard from the older cleric Rev Christopher Watkins and how he dealt with a safeguarding problem in his Welsh parish perfectly correctly with limited training and resources.

25. The past is not a foreign country. Progress is not always linear. Institutions, like Empires, decline and fall.

26. The real risk is that once the heat of this Inquiry dies, the institution – whether it be the Anglican Church or the Catholic Church – revert to type or progress so slowly we have to wait a generation. It will not be sufficient to pass one or two laws that require mandatory reporting or extend position of trust offences. Laws ossify. Only look at Canon Law. You need a regulator that is continually applying the heat with guidance that changes dynamically as we better understand through experience what works and what doesn’t.

Which institutions pose the greatest risk to children?

27. I said I would to try to identify more general factors that identify high risk institutions.

These are:

28. Large institutions;

  • Large institutions cannot change their culture and practice quickly.
  • The Church has a presence in virtually every locality in the country from small hamlets to the major cities.
  • But it is also international. Archbishop Welby was at pains to explain in his statement that the Anglican Communion extends from the hill tribes in Papua New Guinea to New York City. And that the average congregant is ‘a woman in her 30s who lives on less than $4 a day…in an area of conflict’. The Church has to please everyone. And in doing so it pleases no one.
  • We heard how it took 5 years for the Church to consider the Seal of the Confessional only to decide to do nothing – despite some of its most senior members like the Archbishop of York agreeing that an absolute Seal was unjustifiable.
  • Bishop Sowerby was keen to emphasise that the new generation of ordinands were ‘open to safeguarding and all that it contains’. As if we should accept that cultural change may take a generation.

29. Powerful institutions

  • Powerful institutions can shelter and protect themselves by friends in high places. We heard how that worked in the Peter Ball investigation.

30. Institutions that organise themselves in a diffuse, Loose way, with a high degree of autonomy at the local level;

  • The life of a priest in the parish and the Bishop in the Diocese is largely his own to organise: unsupervised, unshackled, unregulated.

31. Where there is a powerful Ethos that binds members to each other and inhibits external scrutiny.

32. How does such a large, loosely supervised organisation maintain its organisation? By a powerful ethos supported by doctrine that binds members together. You expressed surprise that an organisation with an explicit moral purpose could do such wrong. In fact, it is no surprise. The express moral purpose becomes a cover [ACE0267757]. People defer to ‘good’ people.

33. The institution is dependent on a “clean” reputation and in which members know each other and live in the same communities the imperative to hide dirty linen is strong. This is true for most organisations looking after children. Reputations are strongly defended. A tarnished reputation is an existential threat. Only outside regulators can bring objectivity.

34. Where that Ethos is not consonant with accepted standards of child safeguarding. For example:

  • the absolute Seal of the Confessional is not consonant with accepted standards of child safeguardings.
  • Concept of forgiveness and its misguided consequences when perpetrators are forgiven and allowed to continue to pose a risk to children, e.g. Bishop Forster and the child pornography case.

35. Led by those who are ultimately only accountable to themselves.

  • Still, the Bishop is the ultimate decision-maker on child safety discipline. I think I am right in saying that all external commentators on the Church called for an end to the ‘Church marking its own homework’.

36. Who have ample access to children.

  • We know the Church is the largest provider of voluntary services to children after the State.

37. We suggest this analysis assists you in understanding why:

38. The Anglican Church is a high-risk institution. The Anglican Church, is unlikely to be effective in regulating itself to protect children.

39. If you consider the response by the Church in Wales, it has performed better and moved more swiftly. It is smaller. Safeguarding and discipline is more centrally organised. It is less powerful: it is not established, it is disestablished.

40. You have published your report about Chichester and Peter Ball in May. You identified key features of the Anglican Church that led to those terrible cases:

  • The prioritisation of reputation over the protection of children;
  • Deep-seated arrogance;
  • Clericalism and tribalism.
  • In the course of this hearing, you have looked in more detail at specific issues such as:
  • Church structures;
  • Disciplinary processes;
  • Cultural change.
  •  We would add:
  • The size of the Anglican Church.
  • Its established position at the heart of our constitution.

41. All of those things have played their part and, so long as there is a Church of England, will always play their part. It is the nature of the beast: what makes it good in many ways, also creates the very high risk it poses to children.

Going beyond the reasons why

42. We need to go beyond the reasons why. No doubt, for devotees of the CofE and history buffs, the causes of this institutional sclerosis are fascinating.

43. For the victims of abuse, it is stomach churning.

  • It is of no interest to them why the Anglican Church has failed.
  • It is of no interest to them to hear the Archbishop quote the Bible, recite platitudes or even weep in sorrow.
  • It is of no interest to them to debate the theological arguments surrounding the Seal of the Confessional.

44. We drown in a sea of platitudes and an alphabet-soup (DSAs, ISVAs, NST, DSA, ADSA.) of child-safety acronyms that even the witnesses and Ms Scolding struggled to articulate with confidence.

45. It is, I suggest, of limited relevance to you. The purpose of analysing why the Church failed is not for you to make recommendations about how it might improve matters by doing this, or that. It is to confirm in your own mind that the Church really has failed for reasons that are inherent to its very nature will not change without external, truly independent, state regulation.

46. Because all decent people – victims or not, Anglicans or not –  simply want all reasonably practicable measures to be taken to make it stop. That is the acid-test we require in our Health & Safety legislation. It is the acid-test that only state-regulation can provide for child-protection. How the Church meets these minimum standards is up to them. Do not, we beg you, get sucked into making specific recommendations about how this byzantine institution goes about meeting those standards: it is up to them and whatever guidance the regulator gives. If they fail, they face the regulatory consequences, like everybody else.

47. There is nothing special about the CofE. It is no answer to a factory in breach of health & safety regulations that it is special because it a) makes specialist aircraft parts, b) believes this, that and the other, c) and arranges its management structure in a peculiar way. It is irrelevant.

48. So much of this is institutional special pleading. When the Archbishop of Canterbury objects to our proposal because it would mean radical change, the sub-text is this: We are special, We are too big too fail. The answer is: you are not special and you may be too big to succeed. But if you are saying, we may not be able to meet minimum standards, therefore they pose an existential threat: you are right and so it should be.

49. You must bend to the needs of the community like everyone else. The Seal of the Sacrament is a good example: we are not interested in a theological debate about the pros and cons of the Seal and its limited exception dating back to 1603. The rule is, you report abuse to the statutory authorities however you learn of it.We are in favour of Mandatory Reporting in the form as advocated by the pressure group Mandate Now.

The Regulator

Mandatory Reporting

50. We have always said we envisaged a child-safety regulator as a statutory body akin to the the Health & Safety Executive (‘HSE’). The history of the HSE is a long one: the first of the so-called Factory Acts was in 1803. They were enacted to protect children from exploitation in the cotton mills. Having heard the evidence in this Inquiry we say it is remarkable that in 2019, no such similar body exists for the protection of children from sexual and physical abuse.

51. Features of this regulator are designed to catch all children looked after by organisations.

  1. The regulator will cover all organisations which look after children. Very small groups such as childminders are regulated by ofsted. Consideration will be given to exempting such small organisations.
  2. The independent statutory body would enforce basic standards of safeguarding. To do this the statutory body would establish:
    1. A Register of Institutions fit to look after children. To be considered fit and join the register the institution would have to satisfy basic safety criteria.
    2. It would be an offence to look after children without being on the Register.
    3. To be on the Register the institution will have to introduce a corporate structure. This will enable accountability.
    4. The registered institution should be forced to adhere to the minimum standards of safeguarding of those in its care.
    5. 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. Sanction could include safeguarding agreements or their equivalent not just for individuals but for corporations.
    6. All complaints would be passed from the regulated institution to this independent body by any receiving institution with a criminal sanction for failing to do so.
    7. The body would require a detailed report on the complaint to satisfy the body that its investigation adheres to minimum standards. The body would have the power to gather information from complainants, regulated institutions and third parties and would take over the handling of cases where there was significant concern. It would have the power to compel disclosure of material.
    8. 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.
    9. Where an allegation has been made 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.
    10. Complainants will be allowed to take advice from lawyers and a contribution to legal costs would be awarded.
    11. 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.




JULY 2019


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