John Smyth: statement on settlement

The Trustees of The Titus Trust wish to make this statement now that a settlement has been reached with three men who have suffered for many years because of the appalling abuse of John Smyth.

We are devastated that lives have been blighted by a man who abused a position of trust and influence to inflict appalling behaviour on others, and we have written to those concerned to express our profound regret at what happened and also to apologise for any additional distress that has been caused by the way The Titus Trust has responded to this matter.

The emergence of details about the abuse by John Smyth and Jonathan Fletcher has caused us to reflect deeply on our current culture and the historic influences upon us. Although the culture of the camps that The Titus Trust runs today has changed significantly from the Scripture Union camps of the late 70s and early 80s we still want to look hard at our traditions and practices and to invite feedback from those currently involved and also those who are no longer involved.

This reflection includes a number of elements and has led, or is leading to, the following actions:

  • A full independent review of our safeguarding practices took place in 2018 by thirtyone:eight and the recommendations have been implemented in 2019 to ensure that we operate best practice across all our camps to protect the children and adults involved in our activities. Among other things, this has included receiving training in pastoral care and supporting survivors of abuse.
  • An internal Cultural Review has been carried out that considered aspects of our traditions and practices and identified risks to and ways of building healthy cultures across our leaders teams.
  • An independent Cultural Review will begin shortly which will include inviting feedback from a wide range of individuals and organisations to enable us to look honestly at our culture and its impact on individual behaviour.

The Trustees regret that we have not been able to speak out while the legal situation has been ongoing and want to take the opportunity now to listen well to people’s experiences of our camps to inform our future planning. We would therefore invite anyone who would like to share their experience to email safeguarding@titustrust.org.  If anyone wishes to contribute to the forthcoming Cultural Review, we invite them to be in touch too, so we can pass their details to the review team once their work gets underway.

We are sorry that the Titus Trust’s earlier public statements were inadequate as explanations of the relevant facts and history and that some of the language the Trust has used in public statements about these matters has prompted anger on the part of some survivors and others. We recognise the impact that this guarded use of language has caused, and apologise if this has contributed in any way to the anguish experienced by the survivors and their families.

The Titus Trust is co-operating fully with the Review into John Smyth led by Keith Makin. Extensive documentation has been provided to the Reviewers and the Trust has met with them and expects to do so again to further assist in the Review.

3/4/20