Clergy abuse survivor demands bishops resign in York Minster Synod protest

09 July 2017

GAVIN DRAKE

Protest: David Greenwood (left), Mr Ineson’s lawyer, handing out leaflets about the case to members of the General Synod outside York Minster on Sunday morning

Protest: David Greenwood (left), Mr Ineson’s lawyer, handing out leaflets about the case to members of the General Synod outside York Minster on Sunda...

A PRIEST who says he was repeatedly raped as a teenager by another cleric, the late Trevor Devamannikkam (News, 16 June), held a protest outside York Minster during the sung eucharist attended by General Synod members on Sunday morning.

He is calling on several bishops and the Archbishop of York to resign over their handling of his complaints.

The priest, the Revd Matthew Ineson, with his lawyer, David Greenwood, handed out leaflets next to a board that demanded that the Bishops of Doncaster, Oxford, Leicester, and Beverley, and Dr Sentamu step down voluntarily or be required to.

Mr Ineson, who has previously campaigned over his case using the pseudonym Michael, said that each of the bishops failed to act when he reported his ordeal to them (News, 29 July). “All of them have been told and they did nothing,” he said on Sunday after the Minster service had ended, while handing out fliers to Synod members leaving the Minster.

During an interview on Radio 4 on Sunday morning, the Bishop of Oxford, Dr Steven Croft, said that he would “genuinely value an opportunity to meet with Matthew”, as he had “absolutely nothing to hide”. He acknowledged, however, that Mr Ineson had mentioned the abuse to him in 2013: “He did make some reference to it in our first phone conversation.”

“The memory of our conversations is very different, and the memory of Bishops Peter Burrows and Martyn Snow of their conversations with Matthew are also very different,” Dr Croft said.

Mr Ineson drew parallels between his case, the findings of the Gibb review of the Peter Ball case, and Lord Carey’s resignation as an honorary assistant bishop after theipublication of its report last month (News, 22 June).

If the Church could ask Lord Carey, a retired bishop, to stand down, why could six serving bishops not be similarly treated, he asked.

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“George Carey ignored seven letters; I and [another abuse survivor] together sent 31,” he said. “How many more does it have to be? They should go. But they won’t go for a serving bishop.”

“ My case has been five years; it’s gone on for a long time. It needs a huge attitude of change. In my case alone, a youngster was raped and now a man is dead. How bad does it have to get?”

Mr Greenwood, of Switalski’s Solicitors, did, however, acknowledge differences between Mr Ineson’s case and the Ball case.

“Matthew’s case hasn’t been properly investigated,” he said. “The responses haven’t been completely investigated yet. The CDMs have to be processed, and we need some independent arbiter to establish the facts in his case.”

Two complaints under the Clergy Discipline Measure, against the alleged rapist the late Trevor Devamanikkam, and a retired bishop, the Rt Revd Roy Williamson, for failing to take action against him, were put on hold pending the outcome of the criminal charges against Devamanikkam. Those proceedings came to an end when Devamanikkam was found dead in his Oxfordshire home. Mr Greenwood is hoping that the CDM process will soon restart.

Mr Greenwood and Mr Ineson also both said that the C of E needed to hand over all safeguarding investigations to an independent body, to avoid accusations of a cover-up, if for no other reason.

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