Safeguarding complaint against Justin Welby 'has not been substantiated'

A safeguarding complaint made against the Archbishop of Canterbury "has not been substantiated".

The complaint, made to the Church of England's National Safeguarding Team in June, related to the Archbishop's handling of an allegation against the late John Smyth.

Smyth died in 2018 after a Channel 4 News investigation lifted the lid on physical abuse against young men during his years as a leader at Christian camps run by Iwerne Trust, now called the Titus Trust.

Archbishop Welby was a dormitory officer at the camps during the seventies and eighties. 

The complaint against Welby alleged that he had failed to take appropriate action when revelations of Smyth's abuse came to light in 2013. 

A statement from the Archbishop's office on Thursday said that this complaint and a second one received in August were unsubstantiated. 

"A formal complaint made to the National Safeguarding Team, NST, in June, that the Archbishop of Canterbury did not follow correct safeguarding procedure when responding to an allegation against Smyth, has not been substantiated," the statement reads.

"The complaint referred to Lambeth's response to allegations which first came to attention in 2013 and information relating to the specific issues raised has been reviewed. Information relating to a further complaint sent to the NST in August, about wider issues, has now also been reviewed and no safeguarding concerns have been identified." 

The information will now be forwarded to the Makin Review "for further scrutiny", the Archbishop's office said.

The Makin review is currently looking into the Church of England's handling of allegations pertaining to Smyth's abuse. It is being overseen by independent reviewer Keith Makin, a former director of social services. 

The statement added: "Archbishop Justin is deeply sorry for the abuse that was carried out by John Smyth.

"The Archbishop has committed himself to leading the change needed in the Church of England relating to safeguarding and is personally keen to listen to survivors and striving to keep developing and learning in his own ministry." 

The complainant, named only as Graham, has criticised the safeguarding team's decision.  He claims he was never formally interviewed by the safeguarding team, and that it was "simply untrue" that information relating to the complaint had been properly reviewed. 

"Archbishop Justin was told of Smyth's abuse in 2013, but for four more years Smyth was not stopped and the Archbishop's failings are not even worthy of investigation," he said. 

Support is being offered to victims through the National Safeguarding Team's survivor engagement worker Emily Denne, who can be contacted at Comments or information regarding the review can be sent to Keith Makin at