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Statement by Alasdair Paine concerning the 31:8 review into Jonathan Fletcher

 
All of us who have read the report of 23rd March 2021 by safeguarding charity 31:8 on the abuses by Jonathan Fletcher, formerly vicar of Emmanuel Church Wimbledon, have been deeply saddened and disturbed. We profoundly grieve for those hurt by his actions. Please be praying for all the victims, who must be continuing to experience great pain at this time.

Our most recent contact with Jonathan Fletcher was when he was a visiting speaker on our Great Escapes student getaway in March 2018.  At the time I had no inkling at all of his abuses.  He contacted me ahead of the event to ask if it mattered that he had surrendered his licence to the Bishop of Southwark in protest about a political matter; he concealed what we now know - that he’d actually had his Permission to Officiate (PTO) withdrawn by Southwark because of their safeguarding investigation. I took him at face value and was misled by him.  Following the EMA announcement, we wrote to all the students who had attended the event, apologising, directing them to the Walking With website, and asking them to contact Southwark Diocesan Safeguarding if they had any concerns. We had also reported our concerns to our own diocesan safeguarding team. I would never have invited him if I had known about his abuse or the truth about the PTO.  I deeply regret this invitation, and repeat my apology to all who were there.

The 31:8 report contains a number of recommendations for wider learning that churches beyond Emmanuel Wimbledon are invited to consider. We should reflect on these, and will do so, humbly and prayerfully, to embrace lessons applicable to our church family. The wardens, PCC and staff of StAG will be working towards a process by which to do this. Please join me in praying that this will be helpful to all in our church family.

We do, and must, take safeguarding with the greatest seriousness. If you have questions or concerns related to safeguarding, please contact our Parish Safeguarding Officers, Sarah Robinson and Piyush Jani  (01223 756436; safeguarding@stag.org). If you would rather speak to someone outside StAG, please contact the Diocesan Safeguarding Advisor, Rebecca Boswell (07904 487912; rebecca.boswell@elydiocese.org).