Church of England preparing for a body blow from the BBC

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The Church of England press office has released the following statement today (26 April 2019)

Statement from National Safeguarding Team

BBC Panorama this Monday (April 29) will feature interviews with survivors of church-related abuse in a programme entitled ‘Scandal in the Church of England’. We have worked with the producers to provide information and a response to the range of issues raised, particularly around the Past Cases Review. There will be a personal response from Bishop Peter Hancock, the Church’s lead safeguarding bishop, once the programme has been aired. Bishop Peter has also been interviewed for the programme.

Sources in the Church of England tell Anglican.Ink they expect the broadcast will be a harsh indictment of the church’s handling of abuse cases. The report by Panorama, a news magazine show, will follow a series of highly publicized abuse and cover up cases that have touched upon senior church leaders, including the current and former archbishops of Canterbury.

In March 2016, an independent review commissioned by the Church of England into its handling of a sex abuse case issued a 21-page report authored by safeguarding expert Ian Elliott. The Church released only the report’s conclusions and recommendations, acknowledging the report was “embarrassing and uncomfortable” reading.

The review criticized the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby’s staff for failing “to respond meaningfully to repeated efforts by the [abuse survivor named in the report] throughout 2015 to bring his case to the church leader’s attention”. The then Bishop of Crediton, the Rt. Rev. Sarah Mullaly, speaking on behalf of the Church of England said Archbishop Welby had made a “personal commitment to seeing all the recommendations implemented quickly”.

The Panorama broadcast will be on the same day as the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) holds hearings in London that will consider the arguments for and against making the reporting of child sexual abuse a legal requirement in England and Wales.