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Church of England’s review into John Smyth abuse ‘reaching final stages’

by Kelly Valencia

The independent review looking into the Church of England’s handling of the abuse allegations made against late John Smyth is said to be reaching its “final stages” but the final publication date has not been set yet.

John Smyth was found to have beaten at least 22 boys during the 1970s and 1980s, whilst being the chairman of the Iwerne camps - Christian youth holidays for public school boys, aiming to teach them the Christian faith.

After the allegations were brought to light in 2017, both Winchester College, whose pupils were among the alleged victims, and Scripture Union launched independent investigations into the handling of the allegations.

Both organisations concluded they failed in acting on the allegations and apologised “unreservedly”.

In 2019, the Church of England also announced a review into the incidents, with a first draft expected in January 2022 but has suffered several delays since.

However, in a new statement, the Church of England’s review team has revealed the Learning Lessons Review is reaching its “final stages” with the next phase due to start in January, marking almost four years since it was first announced. 

“The review team has analysed previously unpublished documents, including contemporaneous correspondence and notes from the relevant period. The material gathered, including testimonies, written statements and witness statements has been extensive, and far greater than originally envisaged. 

“The next stage will be consultation with victims, as part of the review team’s commitment to put victims at the heart.  This is intended to begin in the week commencing 9 January 2023. Once this is completed, it will be followed by a representations process involving individuals and organisations who will be named and criticised in the publishedreport,” the statement read. 

The team also regretted “this necessary further delay” and recognised it “will understandably be disappointing for victims and survivors”.

The statement concluded: “The National Safeguarding Team continues to look into every clergy person of whom they have been informed, within the scope of the Terms of Reference, who may have failed to disclose Smyth’s abuse.”

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