Abuse survivor makes plea for changes to compensation

10 November 2017

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A SURVIVOR of clerical child-abuse, Gilo, has written to the Archbishop of Canterbury asking him to increase compensation payouts for those who have suffered abuse.

Gilo, previously known by the pseudonym Joe, wrote an open letter to Archbishop Welby last week, urging him to reopen past settlements.

He argued that the Church of England’s insurer, Ecclesiastical, had based its payouts on precedents with sums now decades out of date, which did not take into account the lifelong trauma endured by survivors of abuse.

Gilo was sexually assaulted by the late Garth Moore, a former diocesan chancellor (News, 4 December 2015). After his long struggle to tell senior church figures about his ordeal, the C of E settled his claim for £35,000, and initiated the Elliott review, which later called for significant reforms to safeguarding procedures (News, 18 March 2016).

Last month, Gilo underwent a successful mediation process with three bishops, which culminated in a letter being written by the bishops to Ecclesiastical, condemning the “horse-trading” over settlements in abuse cases (News, 16 October).

Since his abuse, Gilo has experienced severe mental-health problems and long-term illness, and has struggled to stay in work that is commensurate with his gifts and skills, he wrote.

“Relative to this, the sum I received from EIG [Ecclesiastical Insurance Group] was, by any standard of pastoral care, derisory and heartless, especially when delivered through the bewildering legal games that EIG plays out.”

Ecclesiastical’s payouts were based on “very old precedents, with figures 20 to 30 years out of date”, and claimants were pressured to accept small sums or become potentially liable for huge legal fees, he said.

The Church should instead establish a mechanism to look again at past and current cases, and allow survivors to apply for more money as reimbursement for expenses such as counselling and retraining, Gilo argued.

Ecclesiastical should also be removed entirely from reaching settlements with abuse survivors. If Archbishop Welby undertook these steps, he would be “remembered as a pioneering archbishop who guided [the] Church justly through the crisis that has caught up with it”, Gilo wrote.

The head of abuse law at the legal firm Slater & Gordon, Richard Scorer, who has acted for many survivors of abuse in the Church of England, said that Gilo had revealed a real problem. “As Gilo says, there is often a big gulf between the warm words of Bishops when they are talking publicly about the Church’s response to abuse, and the reality of individual compensation cases.

“The Church and their insurers need to rethink their approach and address the important issues raised in Gilo’s letter.”

Gilo has been assured that Archbishop Welby will respond to his letter on return from his trip to Kenya.

A spokesman for Ecclesiastical said: “The way we operate and handle claims is bound by industry-wide regulation and the civil justice system. It is not in our gift to change civil law, which defines the claims process and the level of individual settlements. It is, however, in the Church of England’s gift to provide further compensation as well as ongoing pastoral care to victims and survivors of clergy abuse as it sees fit.

“Those who desire a change in the law should look to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse as it investigates accountability and reparations across all sections of society.”

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