Church apologises for John Smyth review delays

John Smyth being confronted by Channel 4's Cathy Newman.Channel 4 News

The Church of England has apologised for ongoing delays to the review into its handling of allegations of abuse against the late evangelical leader, John Smyth. 

The review was first announced in August 2019. At the time of Smyth's death the previous year, he was being investigated over allegations that he violently beat boys in his care at evangelical camps in the seventies and eighties.

The Church of England's National Safeguarding Team (NST) said it expected to receive the final report from independent reviewer Keith Makin by the end of April and would publish it "as soon as practically possible" thereafter.

A statement released by Makin said the delays were down to changing the terms of his contract and that he had not been put under any pressure to delay publication of the report. 

"I would like to take this opportunity to thank victims for their courage, time, and detailed input to the review and more recently in meetings with me. I recognise the impact that the duration of the review has had on victims, their families and others involved in this case," he said. 

"Concerns have been expressed that I may have been put under pressure to delay publication of this report, I can confirm this is not the case.

"Several factors have contributed to the time taken reaching this current stage, including varying the terms of my contract. This will enable me to carry out representations, where those criticised in the review will be given advance notice of this and provided with an opportunity to respond.

"I can confirm that my report is now being prepared for this process and I anticipate this will commence in March 2024."

The NST has also apologised for the delays and said it "recognises the process has gone on longer than is acceptable for those waiting for an outcome and for the Church to act and learn on the outcomes of the report".

"Along with the reviewer we apologise for this delay," it said.

"We continue to offer additional resources and financial support to ensure the report is received by the end of April with a view to publication as soon as practically possible after that date."