John

first_imgA Church of England spokesman said: “The Church of England published new guidance in 2015 emphasising that: ‘The pastoral response to alleged victims and survivors is of top priority, and needs to be separated as far as possible from the management processes for the situation, and from legal and insurance responses.’ Richard Scorer, another leading lawyer representing more than 50 victims in the ongoing Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, said: “This confirms what we have long suspected which is that when they would offer apologies they were deliberately constructed in a way to avoid any meaningful responsibility.“I’m sure they will be embarrassed at the language here but it reflects a reality that we have come across time and again with the churches that they will take an apologetic tone but that is combined with an unwillingness to admit responsibility.”New guidelines produced by the Church of England in June last year effectively repudiate the earlier advice, insisting that the “pastoral response” to victims should be the top priority and must be separated from legal and insurance responses.But it goes on to add that apologies should be discussed with insurers, communications officer and ecclesiastical lawyers. mullally They should say we need to stop this nonsense but they wash their hands like Pontius PilateJoe welby This is a naïve document, it is legalistic and doesn’t take into account the needs of survivors of child sexual abuseDavid Greenwood, lawyer Survivors of child sexual abuse have accused the Church of England of “acting like Pontius Pilate” as a previously unseen document revealed that bishops were explicitly instructed only to give partial apologies – if at all – to victims to avoid being sued.Legal advice marked “strictly confidential” and circulated among the most senior bishops, told them to “express regret” only using wording approved by lawyers, PR advisers and insurers.The guidance – written in 2007 and finally replaced just last year – also warns bishops to be wary of meeting victims face to face and only ever to do so after legal advice.It speaks of the “unintended effect of accepting legal liability” for sexual abuse within their diocese and warns them to avoid “inadvertently” conceding guilt.The paper, seen by The Telegraph and confirmed as genuine, advises bishops to use “careful drafting” to “effectively apologise” without enabling victims to get compensation. Joe tried to contact the Archbishop of Canterbury While accepting that they might “understandably want to express their regret”, it adds: “Because of the possibility that statements of regret might have the unintended effect of accepting legal liability for the abuse it is important that they are approved in advance by lawyers, as well as by diocesan communications officers (and, if relevant, insurers).“With careful drafting it should be possible to express them in terms which effectively apologise for what has happened whilst at the same time avoiding any concession of legal liability for it.”On the possibility of bishops meeting victims, it adds: “This may be the right course in some circumstances but great care will be needed to ensure that nothing is said which inadvertently concedes legal liability.”One of Britain’s leading child abuse lawyers, David Greenwood of Switalskis, who represented Joe, said: “With Church organisations you expect a higher standard than just a legalistic approach.“This is a naïve document, it is legalistic and doesn’t take into account the needs of survivors of child sexual abuse.“I think this is more naivety than nastiness – but the effect definitely can be nasty.”last_img read more