The Rev Jonathan Fletcher, who used his decades of influence in the Church of England’s conservative evangelical constituency to abuse younger men who looked to him as their spiritual mentor, is no longer a trustee of the charitable trust he set up in 1978.
The Charity Commission entry for the FC Trust, which supports various conservative evangelical churches and agencies, including some in the CofE, reveals that Fletcher stepped down as a trustee some time last year.
This comes as the safeguarding charity, Thirtyone:eight, has just announced that London’s Metropolitan Police is taking an interest into its lessons learned review into Fletcher’s abuses, which is due to be published in March. Emmanuel Wimbledon in south London, the CofE chapel where Fletcher was vicar until he retired in 2012, has commissioned the review.
The FC Charitable Trust entry lists three trustees; Wilfred Edward Vernor-Miles, who is also a trustee of the Society of St Pius X; Richard Mark Blair Wilkinson, who is Fletcher’s nephew and chairs the trust; and Aaron Mark Stead, who became a trustee in December 2020 and is listed as a trustee of Christ Central Church in Portsmouth.
The FC financial statement for the year to April 5th 2020, which was filed in January this year, lists Fletcher as a trustee and is signed by him, so it would seem that Mr Stead has now replaced Fletcher.
The section in the accounts on the FC’s structure governance and management says: ‘The governing document is a Settlement dated 1st June 1978 made by the Reverend Jonathan James Molyneux Fletcher. Power of appointing new trustees is vested in the Settlor during his lifetime. Were there a requirement for new Trustees these would be identified and appointed by the remaining trustees.’
The financial review for the year reports: ‘The charity’s work is entirely reliant on income and investment returns. During the year it received investment income of £30,658 and gift aid from HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs) of £2,344, a total of £33,002. This was a decrease of just over 19.58% on the previous year. The charity’s funds decreased by £61,933 from £670,702 to £608,719. The investments decreased in value by £62,378.’
Southwark Diocese, which covers the part of south London where Fletcher has been living in retirement, removed his Permission to Officiate (PTO) in February 2017 after receiving disclosures of his abuses. The PTO removal became public in the summer of 2019 when The Daily Telegraph exposed the psychological, emotional, and sexual abuse committed by Fletcher.
Surviving Church has already reported that during the financial year to April 2020 FC made a donation of £2000 to the conservative evangelical theological college in north London, Oak Hill. FC also made a donation of £1,500 to the Friends of St Ebbe’s Trust in Oxford, which supports student ministry at St Ebbe’s Church.
St Ebbe’s is the CofE conservative evangelical church where Fletcher’s older brother, the Rev David Fletcher, became Rector in 1986 after he stepped down as leader of the Iwerne evangelical camps for pupils from elite English private schools where the savage serial abuser John Smyth had groomed his victims. Jonathan Fletcher, who also groomed victims of his abuse at Iwerne, was on the St Ebbe’s committee that appointed his brother as Rector.
The latest financial statement also reveals that FC, which is administered by a Lincoln Inn’s firm of solicitors, Hunters Law, where Vernor-Miles is a partner, donated £1,500 to the Jesus Lane Trust. This trust supports student ministry in Cambridge and is linked to St Andrew’s the Great, a CofE conservative evangelical church where Fletcher was curate in the 1970s. Fletcher was on the committee which appoints the vicar of St Andrew’s, formerly the Round Church in Cambridge.
The late Canon Mark Ruston, the author of an internal Iwerne report into Smyth’s abuses in 1982, which was not passed onto the police, was the vicar of the Round Church when Fletcher was curate.
Julian Mann is an evangelical journalist based in the UK and author of Christians in the Community of the Dome