THE office of the Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa received a letter, in 2013, from the diocese of Ely about allegations of abuse by John Smyth, a spokeswoman confirmed last week. But they “heard nothing about Mr Smyth or his whereabouts for the ensuing four years”.
When newspapers reports were published in South Africa in 2017, after Channel 4 News broadcast a report of the allegations (News, 10 February 2017), she said, “one of our parishes in Cape Town reported that he had worshipped there for a year or two after arriving in South Africa some time earlier. The parish said he had neither counselled nor discipled any young people in the parish, had never held a leadership position, and no reports of abuse were made. It seems he then left the Anglican Church to go to Church on Main.” Mr Smyth was ex-communicated from the Church on Main in 2017 (News, 9 June 2017).
A spokeswoman for the diocese of Ely confirmed last week that the Bishop of Ely, the Rt Revd Stephen Conway, had written to the Bishop in Cape Town in July 2013, shortly after a disclosure of abuse by Smyth was made in the diocese. Bishop Conway had received acknowledgement from the office of the Bishop of Table Bay, “and we were given to understand they were taking it forward. There wasn’t onward contact from South Africa after that initial response. We were advised that Bishop Stephen would be kept informed but we don’t have evidence to suggest that happened.”
Last month, the Archbishop of Canterbury suggested that Mr Smyth had not attended an Anglican church in South Africa (News, 18 April). A survivor, Graham, has raised concerns about the adequacy of efforts in the Church of England to raise the alarm in South Africa and ensure that the case was pursued.