Survivor condemns Church’s review of Devamanikkam case

01 August 2019

IICSA

The Revd Matthew Ineson gives evidence to IICSA, last month

The Revd Matthew Ineson gives evidence to IICSA, last month

A SURVIVOR of clerical abuse, the Revd Matthew Ineson, has refused to contribute to an independent review commissioned by the Church of England of his own case and others, saying that the review process is “worse than useless”.

The National Safeguarding Team (NST) of the C of E is due to announce the terms of a “lessons learnt” review this month of the abuse carried out by the late Revd Trevor Devamanikkam, who raped Mr Ineson when he was 16 (News, 29 July 2016). The review was announced in September 2017, shortly after Mr Devamanikkam was charged with three counts of rape and three counts of indecent assault of a child. He took his own life the day before his trial (News, 16 June 2017).

Mr Ineson, who has given evidence on his experience to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), said this week that the Church had “made excuses” for not starting the review. He met members of the NST on Tuesday.

“Under pressure from the IICSA inquiry, the Church announced that it was ready to go ahead. After waiting for two years, I was given a matter of days in which to comment on the terms of reference and the chosen reviewer. I have decided it is not possible for me at present to engage with the review.”

His reasons include that the core group “consists only of representatives of the bishops against whom I had complained, together with communications professionals from the Church. Neither I nor my abuser are represented.”

Mr Ineson has brought complaints under the Clergy Discipline Measure (CDM) against several senior clergy, including the Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu, and the Bishop of Oxford, Dr Steven Croft, who is a former Bishop of Sheffield, citing their failure to act on disclosures that he had made in person and in writing to them over several years.

He maintains that he has never received a formal apology from the Church for the abuse.

Other reasons given in his statement for not co-operating with the review are that the chosen independent reviewer (to be announced this month) is an employee of the Church; that the NST are to provide the reviewer only with evidence they deem to be relevant; and that a time limit has been set on the scope of the review.

In his statement, Mr Ineson also says that he has been refused a meeting with the Church’s national director of safeguarding, Sir Roger Singleton. He concludes: “I regard the Church’s lessons learned review process as worse than useless. . . Lessons cannot be learned if no one is held to account.

“For all these reasons, I regard the proposed review into the abuse by the Revd Trevor Devamanikkam as a sham, and I will not participate in it.” He plans to commission his own independent investigation into the Church’s handling of the abuse and disclosures, in which the Church will be invited to take part.

A spokesperson for the NST said on Wednesday: “The Church is committed to an independent lessons-learnt review into its handling of the Trevor Devamanikkam case, and the terms of reference and reviewer are soon to be announced. All aspects of the case will be looked at, including the detailed evidence given at IICSA by Matthew Ineson. The report and the Church’s response will be published in full once it is completed.”

Under the House of Bishops’ policy, lessons-learnt reviews are carried out in all serious safeguarding situations, but not all are carried out independently.

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