Mike Pilavachi suspended from Soul Survivor as safeguarding investigation continues

Mike Pilavachi is under investigation over safeguarding allegations.(Photo: Soul Survivor)

Mike Pilavachi has been suspended as an employee of Soul Survivor, the church he founded in Watford, amid an ongoing investigation into safeguarding allegations. 

The investigation was launched at the start of April and Pilavachi stepped back from ministry at this time, resigning from the board of Soul Survivor Watford and its related charity boards. 

However, he remained an employee. A statement released by Soul Survivor at the weekend said he has now been suspended as an employee with immediate effect as the investigation by the Church of England's National Safeguarding Team (NST) and St Albans Diocese continues. 

"It has become clear that this more decisive action should have been made earlier and we have acted to correct this now," the trustees of Soul Survivor said. 

"We want to reiterate that we are especially aware of the responsibility we have towards those who reported their safeguarding concerns to the Church of England and of how much they are suffering. We regret this was not clear in our initial statement made on 2nd April and are sorry for the pain caused as a result," the statement continued.

"We are continuing to cooperate fully with the investigation. We are assured that anyone affected will continue to be given the opportunity to contribute to the investigation and given the support they need.

"We are also committed to reviewing the culture of Soul Survivor Watford and are determined that lessons are learned to ensure a strong, healthy and supportive environment for anyone who calls this church their home." 

Pilavachi has been accused of behaving inappropriately with young men, including engaging in lengthy wrestling matches and full-body massages. Some accusers have alleged "toxic behaviour" and likened him to a cult leader. Pilavachi has not publicly addressed the allegations.

The 2 April statement issued by Soul Survivor said that it was not a criminal investigation, nor a clergy disciplinary matter, and that the police were not involved.

Initial statements that the allegations were "non-recent" were later revised after more recent allegations came to light during the investigation. 

Anyone with concerns relating to the investigation can contact the NST on safeguarding@churchofengland.org or the Diocesan Safeguarding Team on safeguarding@stalbans.anglican.org. For other concerns, individuals can contact thirtyone:eight on 0303 003 1111, or the Safe Spaces helpline on 0300 303 1056.