Leading child abuse solicitor Peter Garsden has welcomed the personal apology given by the archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby , to a survivor of church abuse who wrote 17 letters seeking help and redress but who didn’t receive a response.
The Guardian newspaper reports that three bishops have also urged the Church of England’s insurance company to review its settlement with the survivor, saying they are “very concerned about the way in which the claim was handled at the time”.
Gilo, not his real name, is the abuse survivor who has been involved in a long struggle with the Cof E to force them to acknowledge both the abuse he experienced as a teenager at the hands of senior church figure, and its failure to properly respond to his disclosures of abuse.
Speaking to the Guardian he said: “It’s a courageous and bold move by these bishops to finally grasp a powerful corporate nettle in such a clear way.
“They are right. The settlement process is a degrading, demeaning horse trade in which the insurer holds all the cards, and can effectively hold a gun against the heads of survivors and our own lawyers. It is a skewered and broken system that doesn’t serve justice.
“The church is finally recognising the cost of impact. And cost, too, for many survivors who have campaigned for change against a silent and discrediting church, and both former and current bishops who have covered up. All those survivors, and the ones who’ve fallen away bitter and angry and left unhealed, need recognition of the cost in their lives and real justice.”
In response to the article in the Guardian child abuse solicitor, Peter Garsden said: “ The story highlights many of the points made to the National Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse in the Accounts and Reparations module in which criticisms were voiced about many aspects of the civil court compensation process which need to change such as:-
- Damages are too low and do not compensate a victim adequately.
- Many survivors find the aggressive “horse trading” of insurance companies and lawyers appointed to act for those who employ the abuse offensive and demeaning despite their best efforts to display good practise.
- There should be an ability to re-open settlements arrived at in the past where there has been a change in circumstances and a deterioration in the survivor’s mental health.
- There is a conflict between the pastoral intentions of the church, and the adversarial litigation process, which seems, in this case, to have brought about a termination in pastoral support.
- There is a role for continued emotional support for the victim throughout, and after the end of the civil court’s process.