Victims have retained counsel to pursue a claim against the Titus Trust
[21 Aug 2018] A group of men who say they were groomed and beaten by the English barrister John Smyth have launched a legal claim against the Titus Trust, which runs the notorious Iwerne holidays network.
One victim, who did not wish to be identified, said “The abuse we suffered as a consequence of attending Iwerne camps has had a devastating effect on all of our lives. We have been compelled to take this course of action because of the unwillingness of the Titus Trust to accept any responsibility for what happened.”
Since John Smyth’s abuse came to public attention in February 2017, Titus Trust has consistently refused to speak to the men, to help identify other victims or to provide for the counselling they all need. Victims’ advocate Andrew Graystone said “I have personally written to every individual Titus Trustee more than once, pleading for them to do their duty as trustees and as Christians, and help the victims. Not one has responded. The refusal of the trustees to offer any help to Smyth’s victims has massively compounded their suffering.”
The victims have instructed Richard Scorer of Slater and Gordon Solicitors to pursue their claim against Titus Trust. Scorer has frequently represented victims of abuse In a church context. He said “No reasonable person could believe that the Titus Trust is anything other than the legal successor to the Iwerne Trust. If the current trustees of the Titus Trust persist in claiming that they bear no responsibility, we will be forced to launch additional claims against the individual surviving trustees of Iwerne, namely David Fletcher and Giles Rawlinson.”
Titus Trust is the legal successor to the Iwerne Trust, which continues to run camps under the Iwerne brand. Iwerne provides a programme of intensive Christian discipleship based around activity holidays. The programme has run continuously since 1930. The most recent Iwerne holidays were held this month.
John Smyth QC was the chair of the Iwerne Trust from 1975 to 1982. He resigned when the trust became aware that he was using the network to recruit young men for abuse. Smyth died at his home in South Africa on 11th August, just eight days after Hampshire Police had summoned him for formal questioning in connection with the offences.