Rev Robin Weekes, who in 2013 succeeded the serial church abuser Jonathan Fletcher as vicar of Emmanuel Wimbledon in south-west London, has become a history teacher at a private boarding school in Oxfordshire.
Weekes’s resignation as ‘Senior Minister of Emmanuel Proprietary Chapel, Ridgeway, Wimbledon (Southwark)’ was announced in the September 1st edition of the Church Times.
Weekes recently informed former pupils of Edinburgh private school, Fettes College, which he attended from 1983 to 1991, about his new teaching role at Radley College. In the 2023 Old Fettesian Newsletter Weekes wrote:
‘After 10 years of being the Vicar of Emmanuel Church in Wimbledon, and 23 years of ordained ministry in the Church of England, I’m having a career break. From September 2023 I will be teaching History at Radley College, hoping I can emulate the heights of Mark Peel (Staff 1983–2007) and Andrew Murray (Staff 1981–2014) who first inspired me –along with my father David – with a love for the subject.’
Former UK Prime Minister Sir Tony Blair is among the alumni of Fettes College. Radley College was among the ‘top 30’ English boarding schools from which the Iwerne evangelical summer camps drew school children. Both Fletcher and the savage serial abuser, John Smyth, were leaders on the Iwerne camps and used them to groom their victims. The camps closed in 2020 in the wake of the Smyth and Fletcher scandals.
The independent review by Christian safeguarding charity, Thirtyone:eight, into Fletcher’s abuses, published in March 2021, revealed that Weekes, when he was curate at Emmanuel, told a ministry trainee who complained of Fletcher’s bullying behaviour in 2001 that it was necessary to ‘work around’ Fletcher’s ‘domineering leadership style’.
After the report was published, Weekes told The Telegraph newspaper that he remained ‘appalled’ by Fletcher’s abuses and that his ‘constant priority in responding to this situation has been for the needs of his victims, for whom I remain heartbroken’.
He continued: ‘When I was a young curate in my first position from 1999-2003, I knew absolutely nothing about any of the specific and secretive behaviours that have been disclosed – naked massages, beatings or the sexual incident.
‘These disclosures came as a complete shock to me, which the independent review acknowledges, as it highlights my role as the “whistle-blower” of Fletcher’s abuse since disclosures first came to light in 2017.
‘While I was a curate, a ministry trainee once told me that they found Jonathan Fletcher domineering. At the time, I wrongly told that person that this is just how Fletcher operated and we needed to adapt to his leadership style.
‘I now sincerely regret this, and in 2019 I wrote to this person to fully apologise for failing to properly confront those concerns at the time. I feel sadness and regret that I didn’t deal with this situation better and want to say again, how truly sorry I am for that.’
Julian Mann is a former Church of England vicar, now an evangelical journalist based in the UK.