Justice Alliance of South Africa

Independent review to look at Church of England's response to John Smyth abuse allegations

Tue 13 Aug 2019
By Cara Bentley

There will be an independent review into the Church of England's handling of allegations against the late John Smyth.

John Smyth was Chairman of the Iwerne camps from 1974 until 1982 - Christian youth holidays for public school boys, aiming to teach and grow them in the Christian faith.

Mr Smyth was accused of beating boys and was confronted by members of the Iwerne Trust board with allegations of serious physical abuse and current evidence suggests that after an internal investigation in 1982 he was encouraged to work abroad.

He was on the point of facing extradition to the UK from South Africa to be interviewed by Hampshire Police when he suffered a heart attack and died on 11 August 2018.



Keith Makin, a former director of social services with 30 years' experience, will lead the independent 'lessons learnt' review which will consider the response of the Church of England and its officers to the allegations against John Smyth.

Mr Makin has led on serious case reviews and has chaired several local safeguarding partnerships.

The review will also consider the response of other organisations involved; Winchester College, the Titus Trust, and the Scripture Union, to the extent that those organisations are willing to co-operate.

It will allow survivors of John Smyth and who have given an account to the Church of England to describe their experiences and identify both good practice and failings in the Church's handling of the allegations.

The Church of England's lead safeguarding bishop, Peter Hancock told Premier: "It's vital that we hold this review for the sake of those who were victims and survivors.

"They've waited a long time to understand the big picture, the truth, and for their stories - stories that are horrific in lots of ways - to be told and for people to understand what happened and why it happened."


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