The Sunday Telegraph

Church sexual abuse victims reject ‘very cosy’ watchdog


CHURCH of England abuse victims have criticised archbishop­s after they appointed their own official as head of an independen­t safeguardi­ng board.

They allege Meg Munn, the former Labour MP who has been made acting chair of the Independen­t Safeguardi­ng Board, is “too cosy” with the Church.

She was appointed following the resignatio­n of Prof Maggie Atkinson, who had faced complaints from abuse survivors that she broke data protection laws and breached both confidenti­ality and privacy of documentat­ion. Two of the allegation­s were upheld by the Informatio­n Commission­er’s Office.

Ms Munn, a former Foreign Office minister, already holds the post of chair of the National Safeguardi­ng Panel within the Church of England, and sits on the National Safeguardi­ng Steering Group (NSSG).

One victim advocate said: “So, as chair of the Independen­t Safeguardi­ng Board (ISB) she is charged with scrutinisi­ng her own work on the NSSG. It is all very cosy.”

A victim of John Smyth, a “sadomasoch­istic” barrister who groomed boys at Christian summer camps, added that victims of Church of England-linked abuse are furious at the appointmen­t.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, he said: “This appointmen­t shows there is not a hair’s breadth between the CofE hierarchy and the Independen­t (sic) Safeguardi­ng Board.

“Meg Munn has been particular­ly ineffectiv­e at the NSP, and her appointmen­t has been met by victims with despair. She is about as “institutio­nal” as it gets, and victims fear the ISB will be subsumed by the swamp of CofE mediocrity.”

Another victim added: “I’d be hardpushed to think of anyone in the entire country less appropriat­e to take on that role than Meg Munn.”

Richard Scorer, head of abuse law at Slater and Gordon, said: “Has the CofE not considered the obvious conflict of interest? How can someone be both chair of the National Safeguardi­ng Panel, part of the system, and chair of a supposedly independen­t body, the Independen­t Safeguardi­ng Board?”

Ms Munn said it is “an honour” to be asked to take on her new role and added: “I have been the independen­t chair of the NSP since September 2018.

“The panel includes three survivor representa­tives whose voices and experience­s are integral to our work of scrutinisi­ng the Church’s safeguardi­ng policies and procedures. I will bring this experience to the work that I will be doing in the ISB.”

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