Tuesday, 8 July 2014

How will the Hales Exclusive Brethren / PBCC fare in the wake of this?

Butler-Sloss to head abuse inquiry

Mark Sedwill
LIVE: Home Affairs Select Committee hears from Home Office Permanent Secretary Mark Sedwill

Retired senior judge Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, 80, has been named as the chairman of a wide-ranging review into historical child sex abuse.

Lady Butler-Sloss led the Cleveland child abuse inquiry in the late 1980s.

Mark Sedwill, the Home Office's top civil servant, who is being quizzed by MPs about historical sex abuse claims involving politicians, said he was determined "we have to put this right".

"As a citizen, as a parent, I shudder when I think about this," he said.

Mr Sedwill is being asked by the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee how his department lost or destroyed 114 files that could have shed light on alleged abuse in the 1980s.

Home Secretary Theresa May has announced a separate review, headed by the NSPCC's Peter Wanless, which would focus on concerns the Home Office failed to act on allegations of child sex abuse contained in a dossier handed over in the 1980s by former Tory MP Geoffrey Dickens.

Mr Sedwill told MPs that the Wanless review would be given independent legal advice from Richard Whittam, QC, First Senior Treasury Counsel at the Central Criminal Court.

Separately, Baroness Butler-Sloss's broader, independent inquiry, will look at how seriously public bodies and other important institutions have taken their duty of care to protect children from sexual abuse.

'Appalling cases'

The probe aims to address public concern over failings exposed by recent child sex abuse cases involving celebrities such as Jimmy Savile and Rolf Harris.

Mr Sedwill said Lady Butler-Sloss' inquiry would not be pursing individual cases, although she will want to hear cases of that type.

She was determined to "leave no stone unturned", he said, adding that he was sure her report would "be thorough and complete".

Announcing the peer's appointment, Home Secretary Theresa May said: "In recent years we have seen appalling cases of organised and persistent child sex abuse that have exposed serious failings by public bodies and important institutions.

"That is why the government has established an independent panel of experts to consider whether these organisations have taken seriously their duty of care to protect children from sexual abuse.

"I am pleased to announce today that Baroness Butler-Sloss has been appointed to lead this inquiry."

Baroness Butler-Sloss said: "I'm honoured to have been invited to lead this inquiry - the next step is to appoint the panel and agree the terms of reference.

"We will begin this important work as soon as possible."

Lady Butler-Sloss was coroner for the inquests into the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, and Dodi Al Fayed until she stepped down in 2007.

Her report on child sex abuse in Cleveland during the 1980s - which had led to more than 100 children being removed from their families - resulted in the Children's Act 1989.

Prominent figures

Earlier on Tuesday Jim Gamble, former head of the police's Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, criticised the decision to bring in "amateurs" to find out what happened to the files, instead of "professional investigators".

Labour leader Ed Miliband said he would look at whether the proposed inquiries were "sufficiently comprehensive and sufficiently over-arching to get at the truth about what happened".

And The Bishop of Durham, The Right Rev Paul Butler, said he feared the "whole story won't come out" unless witnesses had to answer questions on oath.

A review commissioned last year by Mr Sedwill, into the Home Office's handling of child abuse allegations between 1979 and 1999, found that some 114 files were missing, although he found no evidence that they had been removed or destroyed "inappropriately".

Mrs May said she was confident the work commissioned by Mr Sedwill had been "carried out in good faith", but added that with "allegations as serious as these the public need to have complete confidence in the integrity of the investigation's findings".

Keith Vaz, the Labour chair of the home affairs committee, said his members would be careful not to jeopardise any live cases. "This is not a police investigation - this is an investigation on process so we'll not be going into names of people," he told the BBC.

The meeting follows claims by former child protection manager Peter McKelvie that at least 20 prominent figures - including former MPs and government ministers - abused children for "decades".

Mr McKelvie, whose allegations led initially to a 2012 police inquiry, said a "powerful elite" of paedophiles carried out "the worst form" of abuse.

Giving his first television interview for 20 years - Mr McKelvie told the BBC: "I would say we are looking at upwards of 20 (people) and a much larger number of people who have known about it and done nothing about it, who were in a position to do something about it."

Mr McKelvie said some of those who were alleged to have abused children had now died.

He told the BBC he had spoken to victims over "many, many years" and that children - "almost exclusively boys" - were moved around like "lumps of meat".

They had been subjected to the "worst form of abuse", including rape, he said.

Mr McKelvie was a child protection manager in Hereford and Worcester and worked on the conviction of paedophile Peter Righton - a former consultant to the National Children's Bureau.

Righton, who is now dead, was also a founding member of the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE), before he was convicted of importing child pornography.

However, Mr McKelvie told the BBC that the evidence discovered in the case went much further than simply Righton.

'Boxes of evidence'

Mr McKelvie - who had access to documents relating to paedophile networks linked to the Righton inquiry - said he told police in 2012 there were seven boxes of potential evidence being stored by West Mercia police.

He said the evidence included letters between Righton and other alleged paedophiles.

In 2012, Mr McKelvie took his concerns to Labour MP Tom Watson, who then raised the matter in Parliament, prompting a preliminary police inquiry in 2012 that became a formal inquiry in 2013.

His interview comes after footage emerged of a former Conservative MP suggesting to the BBC in 1995 that party whips might not disclose certain behaviour of colleagues including that "involving small boys."

Tim Fortescue, who was a senior whip in Sir Edward Heath's government from 1970-73, claimed that MPs would "come and ask if we could help and if we could, we did".

Former Labour minister Lord Warner, who carried out an inquiry into children's homes in the early 1990s, said he believed Mr McKelvie's claims were plausible.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today: "We certainly know from the inquiry I did in 1992 for Virginia Bottomley (Conservative health secretary 1992-95) that some of these children's homes were targeted by people in power.... powerful people.

"It is possible that people who were authoritative, powerful in particular communities, did sometimes have access to children's homes."

Meanwhile, Greater Manchester Police have also said there will be a wider inquiry into allegations of a cover-up involving paedophile abuse at Knowl View residential school - a school linked to the late MP Cyril Smith - in Rochdale in the 1980s and 1990s.


Key questions answered


Why has this come up now?

Labour MP Simon Danczuk last week called on Leon Brittan to say what the then home secretary did with documents he was passed in the 1980s containing allegations about powerful figures and paedophilia.

What happened to the files?

Lord Brittan passed them to Home Office officials. A 2013 review found 114 documents were unaccounted for. The review found the minister had acted appropriately.

What did the papers allege?

The allegations, compiled by Tory MP Geoffrey Dickens, were set to "blow the lids off" the lives of powerful child abusers, the MP's son has said. The late Mr Dickens said he planned to expose eight such figures.

Read more: 1980s child abuse claims explained


Lord Butler, the former head of the civil service, told BBC Newsnight he had heard nothing about a child abuse network at Westminster.

He said that given the number of files involved, "it's quite difficult to imagine there could have been a cover-up without quite a lot of people knowing about it".

And David Mellor, a Home Office minister in the 1980s said: "If any evidence of paedophile activity had crossed my desk while I was Home Office minister, or those of any of my ministerial colleagues, I am totally certain effective action would have been taken," he wrote in The Guardian.


  1. Glad that you're reading this Bruce D Hales. Your days are numbered, you dunderhead. Why didn't you just front up to the media like a man. At least respond to the written allegations, like Lindys Letter and many others....

  2. Does anyone know who is the PBCC's lead person around child protection in the UK?

    Is the PBCC aware of the harm their group of Exclusive Brethren has done to children who have had no contact with a dissenting parent or with their Brethren grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, because of the doctrine of separation?

    Churches are responding positively to the UK government's inquiries about child abuse. For these Exclusive Brethren, uniquely as a self-professed mainstream church, there are also major issues around children being harmed by the enforced absence of a parent and normal extended family relationships.

    Who is the PBCC spokesman in this matter?


    1. Does anyone know who is the PBCC's lead person around the harm and detriment issue they have admitted to in the settlement agreed with the Charity Commission in January of this year?

      Do we have to go to the trustees of the current meeting room nearest to the point that the harm took place?

    2. Garth Christie is the most appropriate contact.

  3. As many of you know, I have been researching the mental health of former members of the EB. One thing that emerged (though i was not looking for it) was that 27% of the sample, reported child sexual abuse (CSA). I do not know who the perpetrators are. I am not saying, nor have I ever said, that these levels are present in current members of the brethren. Neither am I saying even that 27% of all former members are reporting CSA. I write all that because the brethren keep insisting that that is exactly what I have said. No - I am simply saying that in my sample of 264 former members, 27% reported it. This is more than enough to be concerned though. And I will be following up on this and trying to find out whether or not the perpetrators were members of the brethren or were strangers/teachers etc.
    In their correspondence with me over this, the lawyers have not once suggested I meet up with the PBCC spokesperson so i doubt such a person exists.

    1. A spokesperson in any organisation is rarely the leader or the person deemed legally responsible. There is only one director of Plymouth Brethren (Exclusive Brethren) Ltd, until otherwise advised I am holding him responsible for the religion in the UK. Disturbingly he recently confirmed with Laurie Moffitt that he had NOT read the full Charity Commission document.

  4. I have an aged aunt in the HEB. From time to time I phone her to enquire about her and my uncle's health etc. I keep the conversation friendly and non confrontational.
    I spoke to her last week for the first time in about nine months. Turns out my uncle has died although I would obviously but sadly not have expected my aunt to advise me of this.
    She asked about me returning. I explained that in common with just about everyone else who escaped the EB there is no way in the world that I would ever return. At this she burst into tears and told me that it broke her heart to hear me say this. I explained that one of the many reasons I had was the EB's insistence on separating from all other Christians although they are all God's children. As God does not separate from them, why should the EB? To this she replied that these other Christians are not separate. She then said that she did not want to talk to me again and after saying goodbye, put the phone down.
    Just another strand of evidence that the rank and file are not being acquainted with the Charity Commissioners' document.

    1. Larry - your post moved me and I'd like to express my sorrow that your contact with your aunt seems to be over.

      It's a wrong judgement on her part that non-Brethren Christians don't separate from 'adikia' ('iniquity' in John Darby's translation of 2 Timothy 2:19). Like many non-believers, all Christians seek to withdraw from 'adikia', which when it was written in the Epistle had the meaning of illegality and acts of injustice. By being unjust in her judgement, your aunt is actually offending against the PBCC's 'charter' verse.

      Partly, she reacts like this out of ignorance; partly perhaps because she follows Bruce D Hales's advice not to get involved in a conversation with a 'worldly' where she cannot be victorious.

      Bruce D Hales should examine the disdainful and dismissive attitudes of so many of his followers and ask himself whether they and he are committed to the one biblical commandment that sums up all others - to love your neighbour as yourself. (Romans 13:9)

      All the best to you.

    2. I too have heard the 'breaking our heart' sob story from the EB. Just like 'awesome' it is an expression they seem to use on a whim, with little regard for their actual meanings. I'm sorry but in my book a group of young people singing to some old people in a home is not awesome. There are few things that deserve that accolade other than the workings of the Universe and the wonders of nature.

    3. Thanks Joan - I totally concur. Even those with no beliefs at all tend to separate from perceived iniquity. But for the EB the meaning has been distorted and extended to include everybody except themselves as iniquitous, which is patently total nonsense. The power of indoctrination/brainwashing.........

  5. 27% is a huge, huge number out of quite a significant sample. Was there any link between children being taken from their parents and been looked after by the abusers, who were trusted members of the church or priests themselves? I imagine if a child reported something it would go nowhere near the police.

    1. I just wrote a reply but it vanished. Hope this one doesn't! I do not know about any such link largely because i did not ask if people were taken from their families. I was not looking for sexual abuse - it just emerged in a trauma questionnaire. But I intend now to seriously look into this aspect. First of all I would like to know who the abusers were - we cannot assume that they were other brethren. Anecdotally I have heard of both 'brothers' and 'sisters' abusing children but no actual research evidence.

  6. If Garth Christie is the PBCC's lead person in the UK in matters of child protection and the abuse that ensues from mandatory separation, it's difficult to get his attention. I've asked him several times this year for a chance to speak to him about how separation has impacted my husband and me since the 1960s, but he hasn't even acknowledged my letters.

    The time has surely come for the PBCC to stop using the epithets 'worldly' and 'opposer' in relation to non-Brethren people. There are probably many survivors who want to talk to them about the effects of abuse and enforced family separation. Mainstream churches now accept that they have failed in their duty to survivors, and it is widely understood that they need to listen to those they have harmed and learn from them. The PBCC is completely out of step in this matter of a willingness to learn from survivors.

    The apostle Paul had the highest standards in his teaching about how to treat people. If you're interested, take a look at an important passage in his final letter, Romans 12:9-21.