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Actions of influential evangelical pastor to be reviewed by independent Christian safeguarding charity

by Cara Bentley

A lessons learnt review will take place into the alleged harm caused by conservative evangelical pastor Jonathan Fletcher.

In June this year, reports came out that claimed Fletcher, the vicar of Emmanuel Church Wimbledon from 1982 until 2012, used physical discipline on other men when mentoring targets weren't met and received massages from people he had oversight over.

He responded to the reports at the time as well. 

Emmanuel Church immediately set up a website for potential victims to come forward, with the Church's safeguarding officer explaining that they heard about the first allegations in 2017, after he had retired.

His permission to officiate was then withdrawn by the Diocese of Southwark.

Christian charity thirtyone:eight has now been commissioned by Emmanuel Church Wimbledon to undertake an independent lessons learnt review concerning Fletcher and the church, which will start immediately.

The review will take place over the next six months, with a report of the findings to be published by May 2020.

Thirtyone:eight said in a statement: "We have been commissioned to undertake a robust and comprehensive exploration of both good practice and failings in culture and safeguarding practice at Emmanuel Church Wimbledon from 1982 to the present."

It will be trying to build a comprehensive picture of Fletcher's activities, whether any of it was known to anyone else and why it took so long for abuse allegations to come to light.

The review will include interviews with a wide range of individuals and the charity are inviting people to participate.

It will investigate to what extent the cultural context at the church provided an environment for such abuse to occur and not to be disclosed and how safeguarding policy evolved.

It will also report on what measures need to be implemented to prevent re-occurrences and report on how current policies support this already.

An Independent Advisory Group will be set up to ensure independence, consisting of up to six individuals, with a representation of victims/survivors who will not be known to the church and will be chaired by Justin Humphreys, the Chief Executive at thirtyone:eight.

The review itself will be led by Dr Lisa Oakley, the Chair of the National working group for child abuse linked to faith and belief.

In the meantime anyone who wishes to participate in the review or who wishes to pass on information to thirtyone:eight can do so confidentially.

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