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Lord Carey loses his permission to officiate over Smyth allegation

19 June 2020


Lord Carey, in his last days as Archbishop of Canterbury

Lord Carey, in his last days as Archbishop of Canterbury

THE former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey has had his permission to officiate (PTO) as a priest withdrawn for a second time. A statement issued by the diocese of Oxford on Thursday said the move resulted from new evidence that had been turned up during an independent review of abuse allegations against John Smyth.

Smyth was accused of violent abuse of boys during his time in the 1970s and ’80s as chairman of the Iwerne Trust, now the Titus Trust, a charity running evangelistic camps for children (News, 10 February 2017).

The statement read: “Lord Carey’s PTO was revoked by the Bishop of Oxford on Wednesday 17 June. Lord Carey is currently unauthorised to undertake any form of ministry in the diocese until further notice.

“While the investigation and review are ongoing, we will not be commenting further on this matter. However, for the avoidance of doubt, we wish to make clear that the new information received relates only to the review currently underway, and that there has not been an allegation of abuse made against Lord Carey.”

A core group set up by the National Safeguarding Team will investigate Lord Carey’s involvement.

Lord Carey, who was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1991 to 2002, said in a statement on Thursday: “I am bewildered and dismayed to receive the news a short time ago that due to ‘concerns’ being raised during the review of John Smyth QC I have had my PTO revoked.

“I have been given no information on the nature of these ‘concerns’ and have no memory of meeting Mr Smyth.”

Lord Carey’s permission to officiate was previously withdrawn in 2017 after he was accused of hindering the prosecution of Peter Ball, a former Bishop of Lewes and Gloucester, by failing to pass on letters of complaint about Ball’s actions to the police. Ball was later convicted of abuse and jailed. Lord Carey apologised to Ball’s victims and resigned as assistant bishop in the diocese of Oxford. After the diocese took legal advice, he was granted permission to officiate once again in 2018 in the church where he worships.

The Smyth review is being conducted by Keith Makin, a former director of social services. Allegations against Smyth were suppressed by the Iwerne Trust, and he was allowed to move to South Africa, where he continued his abuse, which involved severe beatings. He died in 2018 (News, 13 August 2018). The review was due to conclude in August, but delays caused by the Covid-19 outbreak mean that it is unlikely to conclude this year (News, 01 May).

The Titus Trust, which originally declined to assist the Makin review, announced in April that it had reached a settlement with three of Smyth’s victims (News, 07 April), and was now co-operating with the review, as well as conducting its own. In May, it announced that it was to close all the trust’s camps (News, 29 May).

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