Open Letter to the Charity Commission on Church of England’s on-going safe-guarding failures

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Open Letter to the Chair of the Charity Commission, Mr. Orlando Fraser KC:

13th Dec 2022

Dear Sir,

We write to the Charity Commission as a group of concerned General Synod members
(past and present), clergy, laity, survivors and victims of church abuse, their advocates, as
well as complainants and respondents who have been maltreated and harmed by Church
of England safeguarding processes (including IICSA core participants). We are placing on
record our common experience of the National Safeguarding Team, Independent
Safeguarding Board, National Safeguarding Panel, Dioceses, Lead Bishops for
Safeguarding, and those trustees presiding over this (i.e., the Archbishops’ Council).

We are all witnesses to a highly dysfunctional church culture – one lacking in care, wisdom
and responsibility – uniformly poor in responses to allegations of abuse, and subsequent
complaints about corrupted, cruel and inhumane processes. These have led to despair,
suicides, travesties of justice, all perpetrating much longer term pastoral and personal
damage on a colossal scale. Yet nobody in the Church of England takes any responsibility
for this. We have no functional leadership in safeguarding.

We can have no further trust or confidence in these bodies, nor the individuals working
within them. Nor do we harbour any hope that this will ever change. Current safeguarding
processes, bodies, panels, and their personnel are incompetent, ineffective and unfit for
purpose. The leadership is insincere and inaccurate in its claims that progress is being
made. Conflicts of interest run rife throughout the handling of complaints. Victims of
abuse and poor process have no advocacy, and no redress. Mismanagement and
misconduct are not addressed. ‘Core Groups’ lack clarity, consistency and basic
competency. There are negligible signs of genuine concern for any victims.

We judge that a General Synod vote of no confidence in the work of safeguarding in the
Church of England is already long overdue. However, the Church of England as whole has
demonstrated that it does not possess the will, wisdom, capability and resources to
improve this work. This culpable failure and neglect stems from the persistent ineptness
of the trustees for the Archbishops’ Council to exercise leadership and oversight.
We believe that Church of England safeguarding practices must now be subjected to a
formal Charity Commission investigation (i.e., a fully independent review under your
auspices). This is because most recent IICSA recommendations have been treated with
scant regard by the trustees, or simply evaded. The only way forward in church
safeguarding is fully independent regulation, oversight and quality control – without
which there will never be transparency, fairness, accountability or proper process.
We must regrettably accept that trustees of the Archbishops’ Council have led us
nowhere. We can have no more failures, fudging or fawning self-flattery. If there is to be
any hope it is time to face reality. The Church of England must become subject to public
standards of truth and justice. We therefore urge the Charity Commission, using statutory
powers, to order a fully independent review into these concerns.

Yours sincerely, MARTIN SEWELL, General Synod (Lay Member, Rochester & 51 others).

The 51 Signatures (i.e., Survivors, Advocates, Clergy, laity, GS Members, Victims, etc.):

  1. David Lamming
  2. Ian Elliott
  3. Dr Sarah Horsman
  4. Dr Fiona Gardner
  5. Richard Scorer
  6. Dr Helen King
  7. Andrew Graystone
  8. Canon Valerie Plumb
  9. Revd Janet Fife
  10. David Greenwood
  11. Gilo
  12. Josephine Stein
  13. Jane Rosam
  14. Kate Andreyev
  15. Simon Barrow
  16. Katherine Tucker
  17. Graham Jones
  18. Matt Ineson
  19. Revd Graham Sawyer
  20. Melissa Wilson
  21. Dave Lucas
  22. Rebecca Parnaby-Rooke
  23. Anthony Archer
  24. Revd Fergus Butler Gallie
  25. Revd Stephen Parsons
  26. Revd Robert Thompson
  27. Revd Stephen Kuhrt
  28. Revd Jonathan Aitken
  29. Revd Bernard Randall
  30. Fr. Robin Gibbons
  31. Revd Roger Chapman
  32. Fr. Paul Stewart Williamson
  33. David Brown
  34. Karen Gadd
  35. Geoff Haines
  36. Patricia Lyon
  37. David Ingle
  38. Survivor WH
  39. Survivor NY
  40. Survivor AB
  41. Survivor PW
  42. Survivor OD
  43. Survivor PV
  44. Survivor CA
  45. Survivor TT
  46. Survivor SL
  47. Survivor LT
  48. Survivor TN
  49. Survivor SU
  50. Survivor MN
  51. Revd John Hudghton