Leigh Day solicitors respond to IICSA report on sexual abuse within Anglican Church

By agency reporter
October 9, 2020

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) has published recommendations following hearings into abuse suffered within the Anglican Church. See Church of England shamed by IICSA sexual abuse report here

The BBC reported that Anglican archbishops Justin Welby and Stephen Cottrell had promised to "listen, to learn and to act" upon the report's findings. In an open letter, they wrote: "We are truly sorry for the shameful way the Church has acted. We cannot and will not make excuses and can again offer our sincere and heartfelt apologies to those who have been abused, and to their families, friends and colleagues. We make an absolute commitment to taking action to make the Church a safe place for everyone, as well as to respond to the needs of survivors for support and redress."

 Andrew Lord, solicitor on Leigh Day’s abuse team, responded to the issues highlighted in the report and its recommendations. He said: “The report makes clear just how significant an issue abuse within the Anglican Church has been. 
 
“The recommendation that Bishops do not hold operational responsibility for safeguarding is welcomed, given that in the past there were offerings of public support to offending clergy such as to Bishop Ball.
The above will, of course, need to be adequately funded. The report notes that there has been a significant increase in funding of safeguarding activities since 2015, but that this began from a very low base.”
 
Andrew Lord added: “It is important for a victim and survivor to feel that they have genuinely listened to, and this can be significantly diminished if after all is said and done the power and status of the perpetrator is left intact. We would argue that it is of more than symbolic importance that members of the clergy who are found to have committed abuse face deposition from holy orders, so that they do not continue with an air of prestige and respect.
 
“The recent case of Benjamin Thomas, who just last week was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for a campaign of abuse lasting almost 30 years, shows that this is not a problem which is confined to the past. We would therefore continue to support the call for mandatory reporting and note that the Inquiry intends to revisit this issue.
 
“Some survivors may be pleased to see the condemnation brought by IICSA’s report, but others believe that more measures should be implemented to ensure that safeguarding failures of the past will not be repeated in the future. Any new measures must have enough independence and resourcing if they are to be effective.”
 
The IICSA conducted hearings into abuse within the Church of England during July, 2019. It is investigating claims against local authorities, religious organisations, the armed forces and public and private institutions. It was set up by former Home Secretary Theresa May after hundreds of people came forward to share their experience of sexual abuse following the death of serial abuser Jimmy Savile in 2011.

The voice of survivors can be found in the book Letters to a Broken Church, edited by Janet Fife and Gilo, which is available from Ekklesia Publishing (link below). 

*The report can be downloaded here

* Independent Inquiry Into Child Sexual Abuse https://www.iicsa.org.uk/

* Leigh Day https://www.leighday.co.uk/

* Information and purchase link for Letters to a Broken Church (Ekklesia Publishing) here

* For bulk order discount enquiries, please use the form here

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