Lawyer representing individuals allegedly abused by a Methodist Missionary, welcome apology by the Church following abuse review

The lawyer acting on behalf of a group of individuals who are taking legal action against the Methodist Church has said her clients would welcome the apology issued today by the Church for failing to protect children and adults in the past.

The apology follows the publication of a report, which identified 1,885 past cases of abuse, including sexual, physical, emotional and domestic abuse as well as cases of neglect going back to the 1950’s.

Nichola Marshall from the abuse team at Leigh Day said her clients would welcome the apology having faced criticism and disapproval from members of their community for speaking out in the past.

In 26% of these cases identified in the report, church ministers or lay employees were identified as the perpetrators or alleged perpetrators. In 61 of these cases there was contact with the police and there are six ongoing police investigations as a result.

The Church published the 100-page report following an independent 3-year review led by former Barnardo's deputy chief executive Jane Stacey. It said it wanted to be open about the past and to have stronger safeguarding procedures in the future.

Rev Dr Martyn Atkins, general secretary of the Methodist Conference said: "On behalf of the Methodist Church in Britain I want to express an unreserved apology for the failure of its current and earlier processes fully to protect children, young people and adults from physical and sexual abuse inflicted by some ministers in Full Connexion and members of the Methodist Church.

"That abuse has been inflicted by some Methodists on children, young people and adults is and will remain a deep source of grief and shame to the church."

"I am certain that the Methodist Conference will want to resolve to do all in its power to improve its systems to protect children, young people and adults from abuse within the life of the church and on church premises, and to review them diligently on a regular basis."

Nichola Marshall, Partner and head of international abuse at law firm Leigh Day, who is taking legal action against the Methodist Church on behalf of a group of individuals who allege they were abused by a Methodist Church missionary in Africa during the 1980s, said:

"It has taken my clients over 30 years to have the courage to come forward with their allegations of abuse against the Methodist Church. They welcome this public acknowledgment by the Methodist Church as they have faced criticism and disapproval from members of the community for speaking out in the past.

"It must never again be the case that the reputation of institutions take precedence over the welfare of society's most vulnerable.

"Faith based organisations have a huge responsibility to ensure the trust they demand of followers is not misused by those who seek out positions of responsibility to prey on the vulnerable."