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Smyth report expected next year, says National Safeguarding Team

30 July 2021

Channel 4 News

John Smyth

John Smyth

THE review of the Church’s handling of allegations of abuse by the late John Smyth is expected to report next year, three years after the review was announced (News, 16 August 2019), the National Safeguarding Team said this week.

An update on the Makin review says that survivors’ concerns about the timing are taken “very seriously”, and it is “vital this review is done thoroughly”. It was due to report last August, but was delayed owing to the pandemic (News, 1 May 2020). The lead bishop for safeguarding, the Bishop of Huddersfield, Dr Jonathan Gibbs, told the General Synod last month that he was “very conscious of the impact of delays. On the other hand, we are also trying to get it right” (News, 16 July; Letters, 30 July).

“A good deal more information has come out, as people have come forward over these last few months,” he told the Synod. “I don’t think anybody could have imagined how much work there has been. The challenge is going to be to work out how we deal with all of that information, but, effectively, it could be without end. So what we are working on at the moment is, how do we process this information? How do we make a decision about when the process should be concluded? . . .

“We are working hard to identify the best way forward with that, and we will be seeking to do that with survivors in order to make the right decisions.”

This week’s update says: “Due to the ongoing high volume of information coming into the reviewers, following the recent publication of an executive summary and statements relating to Smyth, it has been agreed that the deadline for submission of evidence will now be September 30. The reviewers will then compile data and timelines and set up any further meetings before writing up their report. This will be followed by a representation process once the report has been completed, publication is expected in 2022.

“We apologise for the length of time this has taken, while some meetings were delayed by COVID the reviewers have also been dealing with an exceptionally high volume of information which has needed looking into; this has included harrowing testimonies from survivors and victims and we thank them for their courage and willingness to participate.

“After the deadline of September 30 arrangements will be made by the reviewers to listen to any further survivors and victims, or those who have other information, who wish to come forward to share their experiences in a supported and confidential manner.”

It acknowledges that giving information to the review has the potential to be re-traumatising for victims and survivors”, and draws attention to sources of support, including the helpline Safe Spaces.

After a meeting with survivors, the Archbishop of Canterbury said in May that everyone who knew about the abuse perpetrated by Smyth and failed to report it would be investigated by the National Safeguarding Team (News, 21 May). It has been suggested that this could include more than 100 people (News, 1 March 2019).

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