Final report published of our independent Lessons Learned review

23 March 2021, 00:01, Thirtyone:eight

The full and final report of the independent Lessons Learned review concerning Jonathan Fletcher and Emmanuel Church Wimbledon has been published today.

The 146 page report, which also contains an audit of the current safeguarding arrangements at Emmanuel Church Wimbledon can be accessed on the Walking With website here. The report contains 66 separate recommendations grouped together under 18 themes which range from leadership and accountability, to effective safeguarding and support for survivors.

The Review has been conducted by Thirtyone:eight, an independent safeguarding charity, and was commissioned by Emmanuel Church Wimbledon in December 2019 in response to a growing number of concerns and allegations made in relation to its previous Vicar Jonathan Fletcher and the prevailing culture within the church.

The report seeks to meet the ten aims set out in the agreed scope, which was developed by Thirtyone:eight, and finalised by an Independent Advisory Group (IAG) set up to provide guidance and scrutiny of the Review process throughout.

98 participants provided information to the Review in total, and contributed a variety of experiences both positive and negative. The Reviewers have considered information from Emmanuel Church Wimbledon and a range of other sources, including information already in the public domain in order to reach their conclusions and make their recommendations. Jonathan Fletcher was invited to participate in the Review process but did not take up the opportunity to do so.

Many who contacted the review spoke of ‘deeply harmful’ and ‘inappropriate’ behaviours experienced from Jonathan Fletcher including bullying, coercion and control, and spiritual abuse. Others who contacted the Review requested that their positive experiences be included. The report concludes that the behaviours exhibited by Jonathan Fletcher were unacceptable for someone in Holy Orders and constitute an abuse of spiritual authority and power.

The information gathered by the review also suggests that knowledge of these behaviours was held by some role holders at Emmanuel Church Wimbledon and by some members of the congregation. The report goes on to detail some of the factors present which worked against disclosure and effective response, as well as looking at the role that the interconnectedness of the church with wider groups played in what happened.

The review recognises that there has been substantial investment and commitment to safeguarding in Emmanuel in recent years, however it stresses that the recommendations can only be implemented if the some of the remaining ‘unhealthy aspects of the underlying culture' are addressed.

The recommendations are separated into two parts with the first 28 specifically for Emmanuel Church, and the remaining 38 for consideration by Emmanuel Church and the wider constituency in which it is positioned. The reviewers also suggest that the 38 additional recommendations have relevance for all churches and even other faith and non-faith-based organisations to consider.

In a statement issued today Thirtyone:eight said “This review has been an extremely complex, sensitive and lengthy piece of work to complete. On behalf of our Review team we’d like to express our sincere thanks first and foremost to all those who participated and to the Independent Advisory Group who have contributed to this review. For many, this came at a cost and demonstrated great courage as insights and experiences were shared. The team would like to recognise the great value these contributions have made towards the findings and recommendations of this report.”

“We’d also like to thank the current leadership of Emmanuel Church Wimbledon, who have commissioned this review, and acknowledge their willingness to publish the report in full so that the learning from it can be beneficial not just to them but to a much wider audience.”

“It is encouraging to see that there has been substantial investment and commitment to safeguarding at Emmanuel Church in recent years, however it must be stressed that if the existing aspects of unhealthy culture identified by the review are not fully addressed, then it is likely that any learning and improvement from the implementation of recommendations will be limited in its effectiveness.”

“We strongly believe it is in the public interest for all details contained within this report; its background, findings, conclusions and recommendations, to be published. We recognise that some of the content of this report may be distressing and so we have provided a range of services where support can be sought which are detailed at the end of the report or on our website.”

 

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