Church sex abuse victim says Archbishop of Canterbury has never apologised

By Nick Lavigueur
July 22, 2019

Rev Matthew Ineson, a victim of sexual abuse at the hands of an Anglican priest, is campaigning for independence for church safeguarding

The Archbishop of Canterbury

An email from the Archbishop of Canterbury's office in April 2018 confirming no apology had been issued to Matthew Ineson for the lack of action to his sexual abuse claims

Trevor Devamanikkam was accused of raping Matthew Ineson of Heckmondwike in 1984. Devamanikkam took his own life on the day of his trial.

Most Rev Justin Welby Archbishop of Canterbury

Matthew Ineson disputes Justin Welby's testimony at the independent inquiry into sexual abuse in the Anglican church

A former vicar who was sexually abused by a Bradford priest as a boy has said the church has never said sorry - despite the Archbishop of Canterbury claiming it has.

Matthew Ineson from Staincliffe, Dewsbury, has waived his right to anonymity to try and expose sexual abuse within the Anglican church.

Mr Ineson was raped by Bradford priest Trevor Devamanikkam in 1984 but he never saw justice after the accused killed himself rather than facing trial in 2017.

Last week Mr Ineson strongly criticised the archbishops of Canterbury and York while giving evidence at the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse in the Anglican Church.

And following the completion of the public hearings in London he has revealed his fury at comments made by the Most Rev, Justin Welby.

During evidence heard last week, the archbishop was asked if he had ever apologised to Mr Ineson for the church's failure to act on his sexual abuse disclosures.

He produced a letter for the inquiry, dated July 2017, which he claimed was an apology.

But Mr Ineson says he has never received the letter and said the claim the archbishop had apologised in person in November 2016 was also untrue.

The chairman of the inquiry also stated the letter was new to him.

Part of the letter was read out at the hearing. It said: "As I said to you when we met last November, I am deeply sorry for the abuse that you have suffered and from your description of how this has been dealt with by the church."

Speaking to ExaminerLive, Mr Ineson said he was furious that the leader of the Anglican Church had said things under oath that he believed were untrue.

He said: "The letter they produced out of nowhere said he apologised to me in person at a meeting.

"I shouted from the public gallery, "You did not", because I know he wouldn't have apologised.

"They said the letter was sent to me, but I'd never seen it before in my life.

"Even if you're kind and said it got lost in the post, it doesn't add up.

"He said they sent me a letter in July 2017 but I have an email from April 2018 saying no formal apology will happen due to legal proceedings.

"The church then claimed I'd had a verbal apology in a meeting in November 2016 but there's no record of it in the minutes of the meeting. 

"At that point Devamanikkam hadn't even been charged so why would they apologise then?"

The letter was also not found in a so called 'Subject Access Request' he made for all the documents related to his case.

Mr Ineson also says the Archbishop of Canterbury failed to act on other complaints lodged about his case.

Overall he made eight disclosures to senior bishops about his historic sexual abuse but none were acted on and no bishop has been disciplined by the archbishop.

Mr Ineson ended up reporting his abuse in person at Rotherham police station in 2013 but South Yorkshire Police (SYP) also failed to act.

He said: "I got a text from the police officer saying I will send your details to the public protection unit and someone will be in touch.  That was in September 2013 and I am still waiting.

"I rang three times and I've never heard a word.

"In February 2014 I got a speeding ticket and I had to go to one of those classes.

"I said, 'It makes you laugh doesn't it, you can report rape and nothing happens but do 34 in a 30 and they're all over you.'."

Following his joke with an officer, a sergeant from SYP rang him but he then never heard from them again.

His case only progressed to court after he visited Dewsbury Police Station in person.

West Yorkshire Police began to investigate and three charges of rape and indecent assault of a child were eventually raised against Devamanikkam.  But he never faced trial after he was found dead in the bath with stab wounds on the day his trial was due to begin in June 2017.

The Church of England has been approached for comment but no one has responded.

But during the hearing Most Rev Welby commented: "Mr Ineson feels I didn't apologise. He may well be right. I thought I had.

"But clearly I didn't communicate it well. That's not his fault, it is mine. And we have got to learn to communicate these things in a way that people can hear them.

"We have got to learn to put actions behind the words, because 'Sorry' is pretty cheap."

The archbishop said he was "ashamed" of the church's record on safeguarding, adding: "To fail on safeguarding casts a profound stain across every good thing we do.

"The shame and horror that we have done this to people...I hope God will forgive us."

Offering his closing statement to the inquiry, Mr Ineson's solicitor, William Chapman, said: "Yesterday was an opportunity for the Archbishop to give a full apology – in public and in Mr Ineson’s presence – for what the Archbishop accepted was the ‘shabby and shambolic’ way Mr Ineson was treated by the Church.

"He sat there, the most powerful man in the Church, and Mr Ineson, sat behind, waited and waited and waited – as he has been for years.

"That was more than just a discourtesy to Mr Ineson.

"The Archbishop still ‘doesn’t get it’."

Meanwhile, responding to the claims it took no action to the rape claims, a spokesperson for SYP said: "Mr Ineson initially made a disclosure of sexual abuse to South Yorkshire Police in 2013.

"As the matter related to an incident in Bradford in the 1980s, this should have led to a referral to West Yorkshire Police but this didn’t take place.

"This matter was a subject of a complaint by Mr Ineson in 2017 and was resolved; however we would like to reiterate that this should not have happened for these we sincerely apologise."


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