Survivors of abuse perpetrated by John Smyth while he was chair of the Iwerne Trust during the 1970s and 80s have slammed an apology issued by its successor body, the Titus Trust, as 'cynical and disingenuous'.
Smyth died on August 11 at his home in Cape Town after a heart operation. He was exposed in February last year by Channel 4 as having carried out vicious beatings on young men he groomed through Iwerne, which ran camps and courses aimed at impressing conservative Christianity on men who might become future leaders in the Church of England.
A statement released yesterday by the Titus Trust said: 'It is deeply regrettable that John Smyth's death has robbed his victims of the opportunity to see justice done. Since 2014, when the board of the Titus Trust was informed of the allegations, we have done all we can to ensure the matter is properly investigated by the relevant authorities.
'We sympathise deeply with Smyth's victims and continue to pray that they find healing and freedom from the harm that was so unjustly inflicted on them. Our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by the news of John Smyth's death.
However, a statement released by survivors describing themselves as 'amongst the scores of victims' beaten by Smyth said they were 'appalled' by the statement.
It denied the Trust had done all it could to ensure Smyth's conduct was properly investigated and its claim that it was only notified of the allegations against him in 2014. It notes that one of its trustees, David Fletcher, had commissioned a report into Smyth in 1982 which was not passed to the police. Fletcher also had a further report of Smyth's abuse in Zimbabwe in 1993. These reports were stored in the loft of the chair of the Trust, Giles Rawlinson, and were not made available to any secular authorities until 2017, when they were requisitioned by Hampshire police under warrant. Fletcher resigned from the Titus Trust in 2016.
It says: 'Since Smyth's horrific abuses were publicly exposed in February 2017, the Titus Trust has flatly refused to engage with his victims, or even to enquire after our well-being, let alone to offer any form of support or redress. Their protestation of sympathy is cynical and disingenuous.
'Had the Titus Trust acted on the information that was available to it since its foundation, Smyth's abuse could have been stopped long ago. Our hearts go out to the 60 or more children of Zimbabwe and South Africa who suffered at the hands of John Smyth as we did, but needlessly.
' We have no interest in the "thoughts and prayers" of the Titus Trust. We do not believe they are fit to work with children.'
The Titus Trust has been contacted for comment.