Jonathan Fletcher's former church to undertake lessons learnt review following spiritual abuse accusations

Jonathan Fletcher

Thirtyone:eight has been commissioned by Emmanuel Church Wimbledon to carry out an independent lessons learnt review following complaints of spiritual abuse against its former pastor Jonathan Fletcher.

The safeguarding charity will carry out the review over the next six months, with a final report into the findings to be published in May 2020.

The review will be undertaken under the supervision of a six-person independent advisory group and will focus on the activities of Fletcher while he was minister of Emmanuel, a period covering 1982 until his retirement in 2012.

It will consider areas of good practice as well as failings in culture and safeguarding at Emmanuel during the time Fletcher was vicar. 

The review will be chaired by Justin Humphreys, Chief Executive (Safeguarding) at Thirtyone:eight, and will be led by Dr Lisa Oakley, Chair of the National Working Group for child abuse linked to faith and belief. 

The identity of the members of the independent advisory group will remain confidential until the publication of the final report next year. 

"The review will enable the voices of those impacted by the behaviour of Jonathan Fletcher to be expressed, heard and considered alongside other contextual information and concerns from other relevant sources," Thirtyone:eight said. 

Allegations first surfaced against Fletcher in 2017 and again in late September 2018.  They involved hitting men "on their naked backsides" and one-to-one massage with partially clothed or sometimes fully naked men as a form of "physical discipline in the context of discipling relationships".  He has denied any wrongdoing.

The complaints were reported to the Diocese of Southwark, with the Bishop of Southwark making the decision to revoke his Permission to Officiate, barring him from preaching and officiating at services. The police were also informed but decided against taking any further action against Rev Fletcher. 

Thirtyone:eight continue to operate an independent helpline for victims/survivors of abuse. If you have been affected by matters related to Jonathan Fletcher and you would like to speak to someone independent about this you can contact the thirtyone:eight helpline on 0303 003 1111. Please quote '2019' to identify that your call relates to Jonathan Fletcher. Information you share with the helpline will not be shared with others, including the independent review team, unless you consent to that or action needs to be taken to protect you or others (in adherence to standard safeguarding practice and protocol). A submission form is available for anyone who wishes to participate in the review or pass on information to Thirtyone:eight confidentially.