Handling of John Smyth abuse allegations at Christian camps to be investigated

An independent inquiry is being launched into the Church of England’s handling of allegations against a barrister who was accused of abusing boys at Christian camps.

John Smyth QC (pictured) was alleged to have beaten children in the 1970s and 1980s while he was a leader at the Iwerne Trust camps, where he was a colleague of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Police had been planning on questioning Mr Smyth when he died in South Africa last year at the age of 77.

The independent review will be led by Keith Makin, a former director of social services with more than 30 years’ experience, and will look at what the church knew about the alleged abuse and how it responded to the allegations.

Alleged victims will be encouraged to provide evidence, even if they wish to remain anonymous, while the inquiry will also seek to obtain any documents in the possession of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, which relate to any reports of abuse or action taken in connection with the claims.

The Bishop of Guildford, Andrew Watson, previously said he was among those to be allegedly abused, saying he had endured “violent, excruciating and shocking” beatings.

Other accusers levelled some blame at Mr Welby for failing to expose the alleged abuse.

Mr Welby, who worked as a dormitory officer on camps in the late 1970s, insisted he was “completely unaware” of the allegations at the time and was no “close friend” of Mr Smyth.

Work on the independent review will begin on August 19.

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