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Sadistic Christian ‘morality campaigner’ accused of abuse

Sadistic Christian ‘morality campaigner’ accused of abuse

In a programme scheduled to be screened tonight (Friday) Channel 4 News will report that John Smyth QC, above, a former friend of the Archbishop of Canterbury now living in South Africa, had forced young men to endure savage beatings after grooming them at Christian holiday camps in the late Seventies.

An Ungodly Crime? will be will be broadcast at 7pm GMT.

Smyth, according to The Telegraph, left Britain amidst child abuse claims and was later charged with killing a teenage boy in Zimbabwe. The 16-year-old – Guide Nyacharu – was found dead in a swimming pool at one of  Smyth’s Zimbabwe holiday camps. The charge of culpable homicide against Smyth was subsequently dismissed.

Hampshire Police this week launched an investigation into claims that Smyth – described by the Most Rev Justin Welby as a “charming and delightful” man –  carried out the brutal assaults at Christian holiday camps in the late Seventies.

The barrister, now a deeply homophobic “morality campaigner” in South Africa, was also accused of swimming naked with Zimbabwean teenagers, showering with them in the nude, and encouraging them to talk about masturbation.

One alleged victim told the broadcaster that Smyth administered savage beatings with wooden bats, in a chilling echo of the allegations made against him in Britain.

Smyth, 75, was the head of the  Iwerne Trust, a Christian charity, in the late Seventies, when he ran holiday camps for boys from elite public schools that were also attended by the Archbishop.

On Tuesday Welby issued an “unreserved and unequivocal” apology after it emerged that the barrister and part-time judge had not been reported to the police after the British abuse claims were were made known to the Christian charity in 1982.

Smyth moved to Zimbabwe in 1984, where he founded Zambesi Ministries, which recruited boys from that nation’s leading schools to take part in holidays similar to the Iwerne camps.

In 1997 he was arrested over claims that he had killed Nyachuru. He also faced charges of injuring the dignity of five other boys who said they had been subjected to savage beatings.

Court documents from the time state:

The particular allegations are that [Mr Smyth] made the complainants walk naked to the swimming pool at night; that he took showers with them in the nude; that he talked to them about masturbation and told them to be proud of their ‘dicks’ as Jesus Christ had one; and that he assaulted them on their ‘rear bare buttocks’ with a table tennis bat.

The case against Mr Smyth collapsed in 1998, after he successfully persuaded Zimbabwe’s Supreme Court that prosecutors had overstated the claims and failed to follow proper procedures.

A lawyer involved in the case told The Telegraph he had been “shocked” after the barrister privately admitted showering with the boys, and said he had warned Mr Smyth to stop.

Channel 4 News has tracked down boys who attended the camps, who insist that the allegations are true.

Guide Nyacharu

Nyachuru’s sister, Edith, said that had Church authorities reported Mr Smyth to the police in Britain in 1982:

My brother wouldn’t meet the fate he met.

Approached by Cathy Newman, the Channel 4 newsreader, Smyth said Nyachuru’s death was:

A very unfortunate drowning incident.

He said he had not left Britain because of abuse claims, but because:

God called us to Zimbabwe.

The Archbishop yesterday pledged to co-operate fully with a police investigation into his former friend.

In an interview this week,  he repeated his “unreserved and unequivocal” apology to the alleged victims. He insisted he had “never heard anything at all” about the abuse claims, and had never encountered beatings in his religious life.

It has emerged that two friends of the Archbishop have known of the abuse claims since they first came to light, although a spokesman said neither informed Welby of the allegations.

One, the Reverend David Fletcher, was the trustee of the Iwerne Trust who led the investigation into the incidents. Fletcher opted not to pass the claims to police. He said:

My top priority was that John Smyth should be stopped and second that the men he beat were cared for.

One of the alleged victims complained to the Church again in 2013 and it was only then referred to the police.

When approached by Channel 4 News about the claims Smyth said:

I’m not talking about that. I don’t know anything about that.

In a statement, Lambeth Palace said the Archbishop’s Chaplain showed Welby a letter that had been written by the Bishop of Ely in August 2013 to the Bishop of Cape Town, referring to “concerns” expressed by “an alleged survivor” after the police were informed.

It also said that while the archbishop knew Smyth had moved overseas, he did not keep in contact with him, “apart from the occasional card”.

We recognise that many institutions fail catastrophically, but the Church is meant to hold itself to a far, far higher standard and we have failed terribly. For that the Archbishop apologises unequivocally and unreservedly to all survivors.

The Titus Trust took over the Iwerne Trust in 2000 and said it was only informed about the allegations in 2014. It then submitted a serious incident report to the Charity Commission and provided full disclosure to the police.

A statement from the organisation said:

The allegations are very grave and they should have been reported to the police when they first became known in 1981.

Graham Tilby, the Church of England’s national safeguarding adviser, said the abuse should never have happened, adding:

We utterly condemn this behaviour and abuse of power and trust. Clearly more could have been done at the time to look further into the case. We now have a dedicated central team made up of six full time posts – we will be reviewing all files making further enquiries as necessary.

We echo the Archbishop’s unreserved and unequivocal apology to all the survivors and are committed to listen to anyone who comes forward and we would urge anyone with any further information to report it to the police.

The Guardian reports that, at the height of his legal career, John Smyth QC was the “go-to barrister” for morality campaigner Mary Whitehouse, above.

When Whitehouse took a private prosecution against Gay News and its editor in the 1970s, it was Smyth – whom she described as an evangelical Christian – who won the case for her. Whitehouse objected to a poem in the newspaper about a centurion’s love for Christ, and the newspaper and its editor were found guilty of blasphemous libel.

Smyth told the court:

It may be said that this is a love poem – it is not, it is a poem about buggery.

He also initially acted for Whitehouse in her failed prosecution against the National Theatre production of Howard Brenton’s play The Romans in Britain, which simulated a male rape on stage.

The evangelical lawyer has been an outspoken critic of gay people throughout his career.

When he moved to South Africa, he set up an outfit called the Justice Alliance. Its website was recently been taken down.

In 2005 he was one of an outspoken group who opposed gay marriage equality in South Africa.

Hat tip: Agent Cormac and BarrieJohn

25 responses to “Sadistic Christian ‘morality campaigner’ accused of abuse”

  1. Shit Pot says:

    This vile man as been protected for years like all the other child sex abusers roaming the face of the earth and of course The Archbishop of Canterbury thought him a charming and delightful man. Well he would wouldn’t he. They all shit in the same pot.

  2. Paul says:

    When you fill your head with false and fictious nonsense and truly, truly believe all that garbage, why would you ever see factual child abuse right in front of you. Is it not fact that this facile claim by Welby is what churchmen/women and religionists have been saying, and denying, for hundreds of similar cases over millennia.

  3. chrsbol says:

    Welby was on the news yesterday commenting on this story. Fortunately I had my phone at hand.

    http://imageshack.com/a/img923/2930/9if8ob.png

  4. ray metcalfe says:

    So according to this pratt gay sex is wrong but beating naked young men in your care is ok. It seems that if you are part of some religious group anything goes apart from being gay

  5. Smokey says:

    You get your morals from God?

    That’s a paddlin’

  6. Broga says:

    Welby is making his own significant contribution to bringing down the rotten structure of the C. of E. A man with determination, imagination and a vision of how to modernise might do something to shore it up temporarily. Welby isn’t that man and I don’t see anyone else around.

    Meanwhile the BBC continues to preach and squander air time and licence fee money in the hopeless attempt to persuade its listeners that they belong to a Christian country.

  7. AgentCormac says:

    It’s claimed that Smyth beat the boys he met at his camps so viciously and repeatedly that they were scarred for life, and one poor bloke tried to commit suicide in an attempt to avoid another thrashing. According to a BBC report, eight of them were given 14,000 lashes with a garden cane while two others received 8,000 lashes between them. Sick, vile, inhuman bastard.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-38838113

  8. Johan says:

    How about an Eye for an Eye punishment of the evil bastard. And Whitehouse was one of those purer than pure highly suspect evangelistic deviants who got all moist when preaching and bitching about the sin of sex. This horror story tell you all you need to know about dirty grubby minds of those with highly scrubbed pristine pious personas.

  9. Shitpots says:

    Strange that John Smyth QC lives in Cape Town, South Africa and Justin Welby was in South Africa over Christmas and the New Year visiting Desmond Tutu in
    Cape Town.

  10. barriejohn says:

    @chrsbol: Well done. Send a copy to Private Eye, pronto!

    http://www.private-eye.co.uk/

  11. chrsbol says:

    @barriejohn.
    Done.See what develops.

  12. barriejohn says:

    @chrsbol: Good!

    Smyth is an appalling man. Paul Dacre (Daily Mail editor) has been waging a campaign to get Mary Whitehouse reinstated in the nation’s esteem. Grossly over-paid and overrated “columnists” like Sarah Vine (Sarah Vain according to the Eye), wife of Michael Gove, are assisting him in this endeavour. Whitehouse’s case against Michael Bogdanov (The Romans in Britain) collapsed in sheer farce when her stooge (Graham Ross-Cornes, a solicitor) was forced to admit that he could not be sure that he had seen the actor’s penis from his seat in the theatre. She never watched it herself. She was landed with a £20,000 bill for costs, which an anonymous donor was stupid enough to pay. Sir Hugh Carleton Greene (Director-General of the BBC) had the right idea; he ignored the woman.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Whitehouse

  13. remigius says:

    I was a big fan of Mary Whitehouse, and was saddened when she died. I knew the drink and drugs lifestyle would get her in the end. If only she’d listened when they tried to make her go to rehab.

  14. Broga says:

    @remigius: Sad, wasn’t it. I admired the way she was so persistent in checking out strip clubs and hunting for anything suggestive of sex on TV. Of course, as a good Christian she was unaffected by these sexual images and forced herself to watch in order to protect the rest of us.

  15. barriejohn says:

    Broga/Rem:

    Remember when the bat first hit our screens? I laughed out loud when she said that she and her family had sat down to watch a programme recently and it was “the dirtiest programme that I have seen for a very long time”! What the hell were they in the habit of viewing then?

    Proof here, and well worth a watch again:

    https://youtu.be/YO_DqJ85jvk

    Isn’t YouTube wonderful?

  16. Broga says:

    @barriejohn: Indeed. Game on. Mary was always ready to step up to the sexual ockey.

  17. barriejohn says:

    Broga: I noticed that she never said what the programme was exactly, but they never do. You got this all the time from speakers when I was a young Christian: “A person very high up in government circles told me…”; “Someone has said that…”; “There is evidence that…”; “A top scientist in NASA has said…”. They can never give the actual details, but you’re supposed to take it all on trust. Billy Graham was a past master at it!

  18. remigius says:

    Here’s one that would have gotten ol’ Mary’s knickers sodden.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-38863545

  19. Broga says:

    @remigius: Priceless.

  20. remigius says:

    Broga. I agree. That would have been the best Father Ted episode ever. I can imagine the look on Bishop Brennan’s face.

  21. barriejohn says:

    Rem: I sent that to Barry earlier today, but he seems to have seen it already. Bona!

    http://freethinker.co.uk/2017/02/04/polari-service-staged-by-trainee-priests-was-hugely-regrettable/

  22. andym says:

    If she’d had her way, Whitehouse would have killed culture. The likes of Life of Brian, No Man’s Land-“you were no farmer, Sir, A weekend wanker”-Queer as Folk would never have reached a popular audience. A true Christian. never content with having the freedom to follow their beliefs, she had to impose on others. A useful reminder of how religion in politics is always likely to end in imposition of alien values-just like the Harris and Lewis Sunday saga.Vive la Laïcité.

  23. barriejohn says:

    @andym: Christians hate culture. A particular bete noire of Whitehouse was Dennis Potter, of course, and she lost no opportunity to harass BBC bosses over every production of his work, which she obviously never understood anyway. Why didn’t she just campaign to ban the media?

    http://www.spectator.co.uk/2016/06/a-good-man-at-the-1970s-bbc/

  24. StephenC says:

    Christopher Hitchens’ Christian motto: ‘No child’s behind left.’