Titus Trust chairman resigns

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The chairman of the Titus Trust, whose forerunner body ran the Iwerne Christian holiday camps for school children attended by the serial abuser John Smyth in the 1970s and early 1980s, has resigned.

The Titus Trust’s entry at Companies House reveals that the Rev. Simon Austen, Church of England Rector of St Leonard’s Exeter, resigned as a director on April 9th 2020.

This was six days after the Trust announced that it had reached a financial settlement with three of Smyth’s victims.

A spokeswoman for Mr Austen at the St Leonard’s Church office said the reason for his resignation as chairman of the Titus Trust was that he ‘intended to serve in this capacity for two years and has now come to the end of his term of office’.  He is no longer listed as a trustee on the Titus Trust website. The Companies House entry says he was first appointed as a director in December 2017.

Following the announcement on April 3rd of the settlement, a group of Smyth’s victims, in a statement released through their spokesman, Andrew Graystone, called on the Titus Trust to close down and stop running residential holidays for children.

The Church of England is conducting a lessons learned review into its handling of the revelations of the abuse committed by Smyth, which involved savage beatings of boys in the garden shed at his home and during the Iwerne camps.  This review is led by Keith Makin, a former director of social services, and is due to report next year.

Julian Mann is an evangelical journalist based in Morecambe, Lancashire, and author of Christians in the Community of the Dome