Mike Pilavachi

2nd April 2023

We need to share some difficult news with you today.

Non-recent safeguarding concerns relating to Mike Pilavachi have been reported to the national Church and, working closely with the Diocese of St Albans, these are currently being looked into according to the Church of England House of Bishops guidelines. Soul Survivor Watford Trustees were informed this week and have since been working with the National Safeguarding Team and the diocese. It was mutually agreed with Mike that he would step back from all ministry, while this investigation is carried out.  We would like to stress that the police are not involved; this is not a criminal investigation and Mike has not been suspended. It is also not currently a clergy disciplinary matter.

We cannot say anymore while this process is carried out though we can assure you that support is being offered to all those involved.

The staff of the church have been given the information in this statement and are here to support you but please be aware they do not have further details and cannot comment on what is happening.

We really appreciate your prayers for all those involved at this very difficult time and we do ask, for the sake of all those involved, that you do not speculate or discuss this more widely, including on social media while the process runs its course.  This is to be fair to everyone involved. At this stage we do not know when the investigation will conclude but the Trustees will keep the staff and wider church body updated as appropriate. In the meantime, please do be assured that on a day-to-day basis Soul Survivor Watford will continue to run, as usual led by Andy (Croft) and the team.

If you have any safeguarding concerns relating to this then please contact Jeremy Hirst at the Diocesan Safeguarding Team at safeguarding@stalbans.anglican.org or Ian Bowles or Anthony Clarke at the National Safeguarding Team at  safeguarding@churchofengland.org who will listen to what you have to say. Please be assured that any safeguarding concerns raised will be treated with utmost sensitivity.


Statement from David Mitchell on behalf of the Soul Survivor Watford trustees

I am writing this as the acting chair of the trustees of Soul Survivor Watford. 

This is usually Andy’s role but he has decided to step back due to his close personal relationship with Mike. 

I would like to thank the Bishop for coming in person today to read out the joint statement.  We are very grateful for the support we have received from him, the Diocese and the wider Church of England during this time.

I am a barrister by profession and have been involved with Soul Survivor Watford from the very beginning.  In the late 1990s I left the church with my family and I moved to the Midlands for my work.  We returned to Watford in the middle of lockdown and at the end of last year it was my privilege to become a trustee.

Whilst I cannot add to what has been said in the joint statement, I would like to underline the point that Mike is not under criminal investigation, has not been suspended and that the concerns currently relate to matters which occurred a considerable time ago. 

Nothing should be inferred from Mike stepping back; this is perfectly normal following the start of an investigation that has not reached a conclusion. We mutually agreed this was the best step because of the importance of correct procedures being followed. 

The investigation is being conducted by the Church of England and is – rightly – independent from Soul Survivor Watford and the trustees. We will of course assist in any way we can. 

We understand this may be very difficult information to absorb. We will be emailing these statements to those in our church family and making them available on our church website. 

I want to reassure you that whilst the staff of the church cannot comment further and do not have further details they are here to support and care for you. We are going to keep our focus on Jesus and what he is calling us to do.

Thank you for reading and for your prayers for all those involved in this process.