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Church News

Archbishop of Canterbury cleared over claims he failed to follow correct safeguarding procedures

by Chantalle Edmunds

A safeguarding complaint against Justin Welby 'has not been substantiated,' according to a statement from Lambeth Palace

The Archbishop of Canterbury was the subject of a formal complaint made to the National Safeguarding Team (NS) in June. The complaint alleged that he did not follow correct safeguarding procedure when responding to an allegation against the late John Smyth, a barrister who led Christian camps and was accused of carrying out sadomasochistic attacks against young boys at his Winchester home.

The complaint referred to a period in the 1970s and 1980s when Archbishop Welby was dormitory officer at the summer camps where John Smyth was a leader. Smyth was accused of inviting boys he'd met at camp to his home where he was accused of beating them violently.

In a statement, Lambeth Palace said: "The abuse carried out by the late John Smyth was horrific and support continues to be offered to survivors. The Makin review is currently looking at the Church's handling of allegations about his abuse, including the response of other organisations involved.

"A formal complaint made to the National Safeguarding Team, NST, in June, that the Archbishop of Canterbury did not follow correct safeguarding procedure when responding to an allegation against Smyth, has not been substantiated. The complaint referred to Lambeth's response to allegations which first came to attention in 2013 and information relating to the specific issues raised has been reviewed. Information relating to a further complaint sent to the NST in August, about wider issues, has now also been reviewed and no safeguarding concerns have been identified. All the information reviewed will now be sent to the Makin Review, due to publish next year, for further scrutiny.

"Archbishop Justin is deeply sorry for the abuse that was carried out by John Smyth. The Archbishop has committed himself to leading the change needed in the Church of England relating to safeguarding and is personally keen to listen to survivors and striving to keep developing and learning in his own ministry."

John Smyth died aged 77 in 2018. He had been in the process of being extradited from Zimbabwe after the allegations against him arose in 2017.

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