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Calls for Titus Trust to close over John Smyth abuse

Calls for Titus Trust to close over John Smyth abuse

CHRISTIAN TODAY
April 4, 2020

There have been calls for the Titus Trust to close over its handling of abuse perpetrated by the late John Smyth QC.

The trust on Friday said a settlement had been reached with three men "who have suffered for many years because of the appalling abuse" perpetrated by Smyth while chair of the Iwerne Trust - forerunner to the Titus Trust - during the 1970s and 80s.

Smyth died in 2018 after being exposed by Channel 4 as having abused young men he groomed through Iwerne.

In its latest statement, the Titus Trust said: "We are devastated that lives have been blighted by a man who abused a position of trust and influence to inflict appalling behaviour on others, and we have written to those concerned to express our profound regret at what happened and also to apologise for any additional distress that has been caused by the way The Titus Trust has responded to this matter."

It said the details that have emerged in recent years have caused the trust to "reflect deeply on our current culture and the historic influences upon us".

It is inviting feedback from those who have had some involvement with the trust and its camps as part of an upcoming independent cultural review.

"The Trustees regret that we have not been able to speak out while the legal situation has been ongoing and want to take the opportunity now to listen well to people's experiences of our camps to inform our future planning," the trust said in a statement.

An independent review into the Church of England's handling of allegations against Smyth is currently being undertaken by Keith Makin, a former director of social services. The trust said it was "co-operating fully" with the review.

"We are sorry that the Titus Trust's earlier public statements were inadequate as explanations of the relevant facts and history and that some of the language the Trust has used in public statements about these matters has prompted anger on the part of some survivors and others," the statement continued.

"We recognise the impact that this guarded use of language has caused, and apologise if this has contributed in any way to the anguish experienced by the survivors and their families."

However, Smyth's victims, in a statement released through their spokesman Andrew Graystone, have rejected the apology and called for the Titus Trust to immediately cease activities and disband.

The victims accused the trustees of doing "everything they could to protect their own interests" and failing to take responsibility.

"We are pleased that they have finally issued a limited apology for their recent behaviour, but we note that none of those responsible has resigned," they said.

"They have not acknowledged the historic cover-up. There is no evidence that the culture of moral superiority, exclusivity and secrecy that has pervaded the network for decades has changed in any way."

They added: "A culture that has resisted reform in the face of overwhelming evidence of damage over many years is beyond reform. It is our wholehearted belief that in the light of these events the Titus Trust and its work should cease immediately."

The Titus Trust has been contacted for comment in response to the statement from victims.

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Statement from victims of Titus Trust and John Smyth QC
We call for the Titus Trust to cease its activities immediately, and to disband

http://www.mediafutures.info/?LMCL=KMOtXV&LMCL=jYF7Bs&p=239
April 4, 2020

Yesterday (April 3) the Titus Trust issued a statement following the settlement of three civil claims in respect of abuse by John Smyth QC. The statement comes no less than eight years after a victim of Smyth bravely came forward to inform the trust of the appalling legacy of abuse upon which their organisation is built. It is an astonishing 38 years since the leaders of the Iwerne network were first made aware of the criminal nature of this horrific abuse.

When the abuse came to light, the trustees of the Titus Trust, who now run the Iwerne network, did everything they could to protect their own interests. They did not offer care and support to the victims. They refused to cooperate with an independent inquiry. If the Titus Trust had been open and transparent with what they knew years ago, John Smyth could have been brought to justice. Instead they repeatedly blanked the victims, refusing to speak with us and denying any responsibility. Perhaps we should not have expected them to act with care or candour, since some of most senior members of the network had been complicit in concealing the abuse for 38 years.

In the face of this intransigence we felt compelled to take action against the Titus Trust, so that they would be forced to confront their responsibilities. Even so, the trust has spent eye-watering sums of money fighting our claims -- many times the amount they have offered us in settlement. We are pleased that they have finally issued a limited apology for their recent behaviour, but we note that none of those responsible has resigned. They have not acknowledged the historic cover-up. There is no evidence that the culture of moral superiority, exclusivity and secrecy that has pervaded the network for decades has changed in any way.

Those of us who suffered as victims of John Smyth through our contacts with the Iwerne network simply want to uncover the truth. We want an accurate narrative of the abuse and its cover-up, not just for our own sakes, but for the sake of scores of victims of Smyth in Africa, and for the sake of those young people who even today come under the toxic influence of this network. John Smyth is only one of several abusers known to us who have been closely associated with the Iwerne camps network over many years. Events of recent years lead us to believe that there are still some within the Titus network who value their own reputations more than they care about the children they work with. Shockingly, some of those are ordained clergy in the Church of England. Such attitudes should have no place in any organisation working with children.

The Titus Trust has consistently said that they were not prepared to take part in the Church of England's Makin Review into John Smyth whilst litigation was outstanding. Now that this settlement has been reached, that excuse is gone, and we urge the trustees and all those involved in the Iwerne network to cooperate fully with the Makin Review, and the other reviews being held into abuse by John Smyth and Jonathan Fletcher.

A culture that has resisted reform in the face of overwhelming evidence of damage over many years is beyond reform. It is our wholehearted belief that in the light of these events the Titus Trust and its work should cease immediately.

To those within and beyond the Titus/Iwerne network who have come to understand that they too are victims of abuse, we urge you to take courage and seek help outside the network.

Issued on behalf of victims of the Titus Trust and John Smyth QC

END

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