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World News

Months-long logjam cleared for Smyth abuse review

by Kelly Valencia

The investigation looking into the Church of England's handling of abuse allegations against John Smyth is moving forward after a months-long "logjam".

The investigation is “now able to proceed to the next stages” after the independent reviewer, Keith Makin, announced in April that the report was being paused while police investigated new claims. The investigation has experienced several delays since it was first launched in 2019.

Now, in a statement, Makin said the police matter “has been concluded”.

He said: “The police matter I referred to in my last updating statement has been concluded. The review is now able to proceed to the next stages, which will culminate in it being handed to the Archbishops' Council, for subsequent publication.

“Relevant extracts from the draft report will soon be shared with the victims of John Smyth and with people who are named and criticised. This is to ensure that the draft report is factually accurate and is entirely framed within the Terms of Reference for the review, as well as being based on verifiable evidence.

“As I have said before the review team is aware of the distress and impact this statement is likely to cause to survivors , their families and all those affected. “

After allegations of abuse by Smyth were initially revealed in 2017, independent investigations were launched by Winchester College, Scripture Union, and the Church of England.

It was discovered that John Smyth had physically assaulted at least 22 boys during the 1970s and 1980s, although he passed away before facing imprisonment.

Winchester College and Scripture Union have both published their respective reviews, with Winchester College highlighting Smyth's exploitation of "unrestricted access" to the school for the sexual and spiritual abuse of boys.

The publication date for the Church of England’s investigation remains undisclosed.

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