Archbishop of Canterbury issues full apology to survivors of abuse

May 20th, 2021

Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, who worked as a dormitory officer at Christian Holiday camps run by the Iwerne Trust, and nicknamed “bash camps” in the 1970s, said: “I am sorry this was done in the name of Jesus Christ by a perverted version of spirituality and evangelicalism … I continue to hear new details of the abuse and my sorrow, shock and horror grows.” 

The camps were run by John Smyth QC in the 1970s and 80s and survivors, who were teenage boys at the time, have told of “horrific beatings” carried out by Smyth, who died in 2018.  Many of the boys were from public schools such as Winchester College.  The college was told of the allegations of abuse at the time, but neither they nor the trust reported Smyth to the police. Instead, the headmaster banned Smyth from contacting the school or pupils..

Among Smyth’s alleged victims was Andrew Watson, now the bishop of Guildford, who said he was subjected to a “violent, excruciating and shocking” beating. 

In a statement issued by the Archbishop through Lambeth Palace, he said : “These victims are rightly concerned that no one appears to have faced any sanction yet, when it is clear a number of Christians, clergy and lay, were made aware of the abuse in the 1980s and many learned in subsequent years … I am told by survivors that some facilitated Smyth’s move to Africa.”

The Church of England has commissioned an independent review of the handling of allegations of abuse by Smyth, and is expected to provide it’s report later this year.

Last year, the Titus Trust, who are the successors to the Iwerne Trust, reached a settlement with three victims of Smyth and acknowledged that “lives have been blighted”.

Verisona Law has extensive experience in securing redress for survivors of abuse connected with the Church of England.  If anyone has been affected by the issues in this case, please do not hesitate to speak to us and one of our award winning team will be able to speak to you in complete confidence about your legal rights.