THE seal of the confessional, the Clergy Discipline Measure (CDM), and the House of Bishops’ forthcoming teaching document on gender and sexuality are to be scrutinised by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse (IICSA) during a final hearing, in July.
IICSA has conducted two other hearings as part of its investigation into the extent to which the Anglican Church has failed to protect children from child sex abuse. The first, in March 2018, used the diocese of Chichester as a case study; the second, in July 2018, focused on the abuse carried out by the disgraced former Bishop of Lewes, later Gloucester, Peter Ball.
The lead counsel to the Anglican investigation, Fiona Scolding QC, explained at a preliminary hearing in London, on Tuesday: “The purpose of this final public hearing will be to draw together the evidence already received, and to investigate the ways in which the already acknowledged largely failures in respect of the diocese of Chichester and the case of Peter Ball are representative of wider failings as they may have been, or are, within the Church of England.
“In addition, the hearing will explore more generally the adequacy of the policies and practices of the Church of England and the Church in Wales in relation to safeguarding and child protection.”
The safeguarding policies of the Church in Wales and its handling of child sex-abuse allegations are to be more closely examined — as are other allegations in dioceses across England.
Ms Scolding went on: “The investigation team does not seek to replicate the intensity of focus it brought to bear upon the diocese of Chichester to other dioceses. However, it does wish to consider the responses made to other allegations of abuse reported to the Church. The investigation team has already been provided with materials about other alleged perpetrators in other dioceses, some of which have resulted in internal reviews by the Church.”
This includes the Elliott review, and allegations that resulted in a report by Judge Cahill (who was then a QC) and the subsequent resignation of a former Archbishop of York, Lord Hope.
Other topics to be scrutinised in the July hearing will include the effectiveness of diocesan safeguarding officers; the appropriateness of reparations’ being made by the Church and its insurers to survivors of clerical abuse; the issue of clericalism; how the Church manages allegations made against deceased persons; vetting and barring of churchpeople, including volunteers; and record-keeping, including an update on the proposed national clergy register (News, 22 June 2018).
Those present at the preliminary hearing included lawyers representing survivors of clerical abuse, the lawyer of Peter Ball, and the lawyer of the Secretary of State for Education, Damian Hinds.
The inquiry panel, chaired by Professor Alexis Jay, will next sit for two weeks from 1 to 12 July. This falls during the General Synod in York. “We do not intend to call any witnesses during those days when they will need to be attending General Synod,” Ms Scolding said.
Witness statements will be disclosed to core participants by the end of May, when there may also be a second preliminary hearing to cover “housekeeping” issues. The list of witnesses who will give oral evidence has yet to be finalised.
David Greenwood, of Switalskis Solicitors, requested that the case of his client the Revd Matthew Ineson be heard by the inquiry (News, 16 March 2018). The case demonstrated, Mr Greenwood said, “how the Clergy Discipline Measure system has thwarted his attempts to achieve accountability for the failings in his case”.
He also asked for a more in-depth investigation into the Past Cases Review and the subsequent report by Sir Roger Singleton on this review (News, 29 June 2018).