THE diocese of London’s Learning Lessons Review of the handling of allegations against Fr Alan Griffin, whose suicide was the subject of a coroner’s Prevention of Future Deaths report, will not apportion blame, the terms of reference state.
The terms, published last month, commission Chris Robson, a detective superintendent in the Metropolitan Police and the independent chair of several safeguarding boards, as the reviewer. He will be asked to produce a review that will “identify lessons to be learned and how they should be acted on”, to “enable the diocese of London and the Church of England to take steps to enhance and improve their handling of matters relating to conduct and safeguarding”.
Fr Griffin took his own life in November 2020, while he was being investigated over false allegations of child abuse. In her Prevention of Future Deaths report, sent to Lambeth Palace, the coroner, Mary Hassell, warned that more clergy deaths would follow unless action was taken to improve C of E safeguarding procedures (News, 23 July).
The diocese has admitted to a catalogue of errors (News, 27 August), but last week the Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Sarah Mullally, said that the Church “learned to our cost . . . that sometimes rumours weren’t dealt with when in fact they were safeguarding” (News, 1 October).
The review will look at ten specific concerns in Ms Hassell’s report, which concluded that allegations against Fr Griffin, passed on to the Roman Catholic Church, were “supported by no complainant, no witness and no accuser”. It will “consider the effectiveness of procedures, areas of service improvement and development needs and will establish what lessons can be learned regarding the way in which information is responded to, recorded, assessed, shared, and managed.
“The overall purpose of the Review is to promote learning and improve practice, not to apportion blame. It will make recommendations about what could be done better in the Church of England to help prevent such a death taking place again.”
The close family and friends of Fr Griffin had an opportunity to give their feedback on the terms before publication, and they will also be given an opportunity to comment on a final draft of the review. The terms state that the reviewer “will give the opportunity to meet with anyone whose actions they comment on”.
It is expected that Mr Robson’s report will be ready by the end of the year. It will be published “promptly” on the websites of the diocese of London and the Church of England. The Review Steering Group will then create an action plan with implementation led by the diocesan safeguarding and HR teams, and by the National Safeguarding Team. The terms state that “a management review within the diocese will be conducted to consider individual actions.”
The Review Steering Group comprises the general secretary of the diocese of London, Richard Gough; the Bishop of Stepney, Dr Joanne Grenfell; the interim national director of safeguarding, Zena Marshall; the Bishop at Lambeth, the Rt Revd Tim Thornton; and Tim Bishop, an independent member of the London diocesan safeguarding steering group.
Comment: The accused have their rights, too