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IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

The Anglican Church Investigation Report

Contents

B.4.2: Civil claims in the Church of England

2. The response to civil claims against the Church of England depends on whether the claim is insured. Not all claims are covered by insurance. For example, claims against bishops must be funded by the Church.

3. The Ecclesiastical Insurance Office (EIO) provides insurance for the largest proportion of Church of England bodies.[1] It is an independent company regulated in the same way as all insurance providers.[2] The EIO is owned by the Ecclesiastical Insurance Group (EIG),[3] which in turn is owned by the Allchurches Trust Limited (ATL), a registered charity which promotes the Christian religion and makes charitable grants, in particular to the Church of England.[4] The EIG gives a significant proportion of its profits to ATL but neither are involved in the day-to-day running of the EIO or in how it responds to claims.[5]

4. Between 2003 and 2018, the EIO has managed 217 claims relating to child sexual abuse in the Church of England:[6]

  • 215 claims involved male perpetrators or alleged perpetrators and two involved female perpetrators;
  • 122 claims involved abuse perpetrated or allegedly perpetrated by clergy (of whom 30 were deceased), while 86 claims involved abuse by non-clergy (including volunteers or others in paid positions within the Church);[7]
  • 36 alleged perpetrators had multiple claims made about them; and
  • out of 217 claims, one claim resulted in a trial.

5. Where a claim is brought, for example against a parochial church council for the conduct of a parish priest, it is usually managed by the insurer.[8] While the EIO works closely with it, the Church is not in any position to dictate to the EIO how it should respond in any particular case”.[9] This may be difficult for victims and survivors to understand, but the Church is bound by the terms of its contract with the EIO and cannot tell the EIO what to do within the boundaries of that contract.[10]

The EIO’s guiding principles

6. The EIO produced its first internal guidance document relating to child sexual abuse in 1997, for those who deal with child sexual abuse claims on a day-to-day basis. It stated that “Should an allegation arise, it is important to follow the procedures detailed in the House of Bishops’ policy document.[11]

7. The EIO’s 2009 guidance was not specific to child sexual abuse but stated that:

It is important that the response … is not experienced as negative, resistant or unhelpful because this can create relationship difficulties.[12]

8. In 2016, the EIO developed its guiding principles, prepared in collaboration with Dr Julie MacFarlane (a survivor of child sexual abuse by a Church of England priest, and who had asked the EIO to set out how it handled such claims during a settlement process), the Church and other stakeholders. The principles – which apply to all policyholders, including the Church – include that:

  • Claims arising from physical and sexual abuse can be challenging and traumatic for all concerned, regardless of how long ago the abuse occurred.
  • Early admission of liability quickens the claim and also helps to keep legal costs to a minimum.
  • Policyholders should consider providing or offering pastoral care, counselling and/or other forms of available support to the claimant if it would aid the claimant’s well-being.
  • The making of a formal claim … should not however prevent any policyholder continuing to support the claimant through the provision of pastoral care that is being provided or offering support/counselling.
  • Ecclesiastical is committed to acting fairly towards all parties who are affected by the claim.
  • Ecclesiastical will not insist or include a confidentiality requirement in a settlement agreement unless specifically requested by the claimant.
  • A claimant who was “under 16 when the abuse took place should not be deemed to have consented to such abuse and this will not be raised as a possible defence. Ecclesiastical will be mindful of the power imbalance that is often presented in such cases.[13]

If followed, the principles have the potential to make the civil claims process less traumatic for victims and survivors.

References

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