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Delays on the Church of England's review of John Smyth's abuse

by Kelly Valencia
John-Smyth-thumb_galleryfull.jpg - Banner image

The results of a review into the Church of England's handling of allegations against John Smyth has been delayed for a second time. 

In January, the Church of England said the reviewers hoped to "have a draft version of the report ready at the end of April". The review was first announced in August 2019. 

But in the latest statement, the Church of England said that the reviewers are continuing "to receive important information" from new victims coming forward and have decided to extend the evidence deadline to "obtain as full a picture as possible". 

Following allegations of abuse by Smyth first brought to light in 2017, Winchester College, Scripture Union and the Church of England all launched independent investigations into the allegations.

John Smyth was found to have beaten at least 22 boys during the 1970s and 1980s but died before he could be imprisoned. 

He was thought to do so whilst he was the chairman of the Iwerne camps from 1974 until 1982 - Christian youth holidays for public school boys, aiming to teach and grow them in the Christian faith.

Both Winchester College and Scripture Union have released their respective reviews with Winchester College saying Smyth used "unrestricted access" to the school to sexually and spiritually abuse boys. 

It also admitted that "basic safeguards, which were common at the time" were not used in relation to Smyth and apologised "unreservedly" for its failings. 

Scripture Union did not publish the full report but an executive summary found that the alleged abuse by Smyth was extreme and physical with "clear and continuous sexual framing". 

The document also said that although the Scripture Union was not directly involved with Smyth, some people associated with the Christian charity knew about the behaviour and could have prevented further harm. 

The Church of England said the reviewers are drafting the report in a way that covers all the material in "a largely chronological way, providing drafts covering the different periods and starting the representations process with those people named in the report as it progresses," as it is considered "more effective and helpful for all those involved, particularly survivors and victims'". 

According to the statement, the first draft is expected to be presented before the National Safeguarding Team within a month. 

It concluded: "The Church (as stated by the Archbishop of Canterbury) is committed to full and unredacted publication of the report. The representations process, for all involved is expected to be complex, with the eventual date of publication being determined by this." 

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