*** DEBUG END ***

Terms of reference of ISB review announced

11 September 2023

It will be led by a public-law barrister, Sarah Wilkinson, who will report in November


Barrister Sarah Wilkinson

Barrister Sarah Wilkinson

DETAILS of the independent review of the operation and demise of the Independent Safeguarding Board (ISB) were announced on Monday, with a remit to “establish and identify on the balance of probabilities the reasons for the action to terminate the contracts of the ISB members”.

A press release confirms that the review aims to report its findings “as soon as possible following the end of November”. In contrast with the ambition outlined by the Archbishop of York in July (News, 14 July), the report will not, therefore, be before members of the General Synod when they meet in early November.

The press release states, however, that the ISB review will “inform the work of Professor Alexis Jay on the future of safeguarding” in the C of E (News, 20 July).

In June, the Archbishops’ Council decided to disband the ISB, giving as its grounds a breakdown of its relationship with two of the board’s members: Steve Reeves and Jasvinder Sanghera (News, 21 June).

The Council’s account was challenged by Mr Reeves and Ms Sanghera (News, 28 June). At the July meeting of the Synod, the Archbishops’ Council was criticised by speakers for the way that it had handled the situation, particularly in respect of the treatment of survivors of abuse.

At the Synod, the Archbishop of York announced that the Council had referred itself to the Charity Commission, and was ordering an independent review of what had happened (News, 14 July).

The terms of reference for this review were released on Monday. It will be led by a public-law barrister from Blackstone Chambers, Sarah Wilkinson, who has been instructed to “use best efforts to establish a clear account of the events from the conception, design and implementation of the ISB, until the announcement of the termination of contracts”.

Ms Wilkinson is also being asked to identify the reasons that Mr Reeves and Ms Sanghera were sacked, and what lessons can be learnt from the entire process.

Interviews will take place online and in person, and the terms of reference state that documentation shared with the reviewer will not be passed on to anyone else without express permission. An email address has been set up by Blackstone Chambers for correspondence: isbinvestigation@blackstonechambers.com.

After the announcement was made, several survivors and survivor-advocates spoke to the Church Times to express disquiet about the lack of consultation in preparing the terms of reference.

One victim of church-based abuse suggested that the quick turnaround between the announcement of the reviewer and the scheduled report meant that it would just “scratch the surface”.

“Victims of abuse in a church context deserve a well-resourced, comprehensive and forensic independent Review. Nothing less will do,” they said.

A Synod member and survivor advocate, Martin Sewell, criticised the Archbishops’ Council for not consulting survivors on the terms of reference. “Whereas modern governmental reviews, such as the Lucy Letby inquiry,  invite the victims in and asks them what questions they want answered, the Church continues to frame these reviews to please themselves,” he said.

Mr Reeves and Ms Sanghera were approached for comment.

Browse Church and Charity jobs on the Church Times jobsite

Forthcoming Events

Green Church Awards

Closing date: 30 June 2024

Read more details about the awards


Festival of Preaching

15-17 September 2024

The festival moves to Cambridge along with a sparkling selection of expert speakers

tickets available



Festival of Faith and Literature

28 February - 2 March 2025

The festival programme is soon to be announced sign up to our newsletter to stay informed about all festival news.

Festival website


ViSIt our Events page for upcoming and past events 

Welcome to the Church Times


To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)