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Meg Munn resigns from Church of England’s National Safeguarding Team following ISB debacle

by Premier Journalist
GENERAL SYNOD FEB 23.jpg - Banner image
David Mansell / Alamy Stock Photo

Meg Munn, the acting chair of the Church of England’s Independent Safeguarding Board (ISB), has resigned from all her safeguarding responsibilities within the Church.  

The former MP has stepped down from her role as the independent chair of the Church’s National Safeguarding Panel (NSP).

In her first public statement since the ISB was dissolved last month, the 63-year-old said the group was a “huge waste of money” and accused the Archbishop of Canterbury of “undermining” her work.

The Archbishop’s Council announced the disbandment of the ISB in June and the sacking of two of its board members, Jasvinda Sanghera and Steve Reeves, after several months of internal disputes between them, Munn and the Archbishop’s Council. Munn had been asked to remain in post for “business continuity” but her contract was also eventually terminated.

The disbandment news sparked criticism from survivors and church leaders, who accused the Archbishop’s Council of lacking transparency and being afraid of full scrutiny.

Members of the General Synod heard the Archbishop’s Council’s side of the story this weekend, with Sanghera and Reeves eventually given the opportunity to speak too. Munn was also asked to address Synod but she declined.

In the statement seen by the Church Times, she said she felt a “combination of astonishment, incredulity, and growing anger” at the Synod session.

“Quite what such a spectacle was meant to achieve I do not know, it certainly did nothing to help safeguarding in the Church of England. For me, it reinforced my concern that the Archbishops’ Council has been slow to listen to those with organisational and safeguarding expertise.”

In 2022, Munn was appointed acting chair of the ISB’s board to work alongside Sanghera and Reeves after her predecessor, Maggie Atkison, resigned over allegations she had breached survivors’ data.

However, the Archbishop’s Council’s decision to appoint Munn raised concerns among survivors and victims of clergy abuse as they believed her presence created a significant conflict of interest and called for her to stand down.

But in her statement, Munn defended her role in the ISB, arguing it was always the plan for the National Safeguarding Team to play a role in the group as the Church had agreed on a two-staged process to achieve independent safeguarding scrutiny within the church, and the ISB was phase one.

Munn accused Sanghera and Reeves of refusing to work with her stating the conflict of interest as a reason.

She continued: “I was staggered at this unprofessional behaviour, particularly when concerned with such an important issue as safeguarding in the Church. Their stated reason was that being Chair of the ISB was a conflict of interest with my chairing of the NSP, a role they knew I was due to finish in the summer. As a paper, endorsed by last year’s Synod, set out that the NSP and ISB would work closely together on phase 2, there never was a conflict of interest.”

“The Archbishop of Canterbury intervened. He wrote to all three members of the ISB urging that we work co-operatively. However, rather than endorsing the reasons for my appointment and stating he expected professional behaviour from everyone, he indicated a desire ‘to move as swiftly as possible towards the appointment of a substantive new Chair’ — a statement that was no doubt taken as a signal by the two ISB members that they could continue their behaviour as they would soon be rid of me.”

She continued: “Regretfully I have concluded that I cannot rely on the support of the Archbishops’ Council in any future safeguarding work with the Church of England. Until they are prepared to act on professional safeguarding advice, sensible and achievable plans will not be put in place.”

She claimed “over £730,000 — with many dioceses struggling to fund their safeguarding work, this must be considered a huge waste of money”.

In a statement, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York said in a statement they were “saddened that she has chosen to stand down” but “understand and respect her decision".

“The remit of the interim chair of the ISB and the other members was always to develop proposals to appoint a permanent independent chair and additional board members. That work was always intended to move forward at pace towards the independent scrutiny that the Church urgently needs. This has been a very difficult period for all concerned and we regret recent events.

“We remain committed to moving swiftly towards a new safeguarding scrutiny body that is fully independent of the Church.”


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