Harriet Sherwood Religion correspondent
Sat 23 Nov 2019
Matthew Ineson said his claims that a vicar had raped him when he was 16 were ignored
The Church of England has ordered an independent review into its handling of a sexual abuse case that resulted in four bishops and an archbishop being accused of failing to respond properly to a victim’s disclosures.
The review will focus on the case of Trevor Devamanikkam, a vicar who was accused of raping a teenage boy more than three decades ago. Devamanikkam killed himself in June 2017, the day before he was due to appear in court on three counts of buggery and three counts of indecent assault.
Matthew Ineson, who made the allegations against Devamanikkam and who has waived his right to anonymity, has said he disclosed, either directly or indirectly, his account of being raped at the age of 16 to four bishops and the archbishop of York.
Ineson, who was ordained as a priest in his 20s, said that between 2012 and 2013 he gave accounts of the alleged abuse in the 1980s to Peter Burrows, the bishop of Doncaster; Steven Croft, who at the time was bishop of Sheffield and is now bishop of Oxford; and Martyn Snow, the then archdeacon of Sheffield and Rotherham and now bishop of Leicester; but nothing came of his reports.
He went on to make two written disclosures to Croft, copying his letter to John Sentamu, archbishop of York, and Glyn Webster, bishop of Beverley. Sentamu briefly responded to Ineson, saying he would pray for him and sending best wishes.
Ineson lodged formal complaints of misconduct against the bishops and archbishop in 2016 for allegedly failing to act on his disclosures, but they were dismissed by the church, which cited a one-year time limit for such complaints.
Since waiving his right to anonymity, Ineson has become one of the most persistent and outspoken critics of the church over its shortcomings in dealing with cases of sexual abuse.
In a letter to Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury, in 2017 Ineson said: “The Church of England has made me fight at every step to try to achieve both justice and the further prevention of abuse by my abuser. By doing this, you have added to my abuse. The bishops have actively colluded together to attempt to ignore, discredit and get rid of me.”
Earlier this year, Sentamu admitted to the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse that the church’s treatment of Ineson had been “shabby and shambolic” but denied he had made personal mistakes in the case.
The C of E announced on Friday it had appointed Jane Humphreys, a safeguarding consultant with more than 30 years experience, to review its handling of the allegations relating to Devamanikkam.
She would take written and verbal evidence from “the survivor who brought the original allegation of abuse” and would “make contact with the relevant archbishop and bishops as well as those safeguarding professionals in the church who dealt with the allegations,” the C of E said.
Ineson told the Guardian: “I don’t believe the church should be appointing anyone to investigate it – it should be truly independent, which it isn’t. The church, the ones who are being investigated, are trying to control the whole thing. The church is steam rollering ahead without regard to anybody including the victim. I’d very much welcome a genuinely independent review but this is not the way to do it. I can’t say whether I’ll cooperate with the process until I know more.”
The C of E said it hoped the review would be completed and published next year.