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Smyth abuse review logjam cleared, but publication still months away

15 June 2023

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THE Church of England’s Lessons Learnt Review of the abuse perpetrated by the late John Smyth is reaching the final stages of completion, more than three years after it was commissioned. But no publication date has yet been announced.

In April, the independent reviewer, Keith Makin, said that his already delayed review had been further delayed by new information discovered during his investigations which had been reported to the police (News, 21 April). While this information was being considered by the police, Mr Makin has been unable to move to the next stage of the process: disclosing extracts from the report to the people named and criticised in it.

In an update published on the C of E website on Thursday, Mr Makin said that this matter had now concluded. “The review is now able to proceed to the next stages, which will culminate in it being handed to the Archbishops’ Council for subsequent publication.

“Relevant extracts from the draft report will soon be shared with the victims of John Smyth and with people who are named and criticised. This is to ensure that the draft report is factually accurate and is entirely framed within the Terms of Reference for the review, as well as being based on verifiable evidence.

“As I have said before, the review team is aware of the distress and impact this statement is likely to cause to survivors, their families and all those affected.”

A survivor of abuse told the Church Times on Thursday: “This announcement is riddled full of spin and deceit. First, the police matter was resolved over a month ago, not recently as the announcement suggests.

“Secondly, the Review will not be disseminated to victims for another two months, so any suggestion that this process is ready to start is just untrue.”

He suggested that a draft of the statement that had been sent to survivors suggested a publication in the autumn, and that this had now been removed. “The Review is already three years late, and I can almost guarantee it will not be published in calendar [year] 2023.”

Mr Makin has been contacted for comment on when the police matter was resolved. Church House confirmed that no new publication date had been set.

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