The Independent Review by Dr Stephanie Hill into the case of convicted sexual abuser Granville Gibson, formerly the Archdeacon of Auckland, was published by the Diocese of Durham today, 17 December. A Statement by Bishop Paul Butler, reproduced below, explains inter alia the delay in publication of the document which was completed in 2017. Also available in tabular form is the Diocesan response to recommendations in the review.
GRANVILLE GIBSON REPORT PUBLICATION
17th December 2020
The Rt Revd Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham today issued the following statement alongside the publication of the Granville Gibson Report.
“Granville Gibson’s conviction for sexual abuse offences in 2016 was deeply shameful for the Diocese of Durham. An independent review was immediately commissioned into the whole history of how concerns and complaints about Mr Gibson were handled. Subsequent to its completion in 2017, the Police and Crown Prosecution Service advised that the report could not be released as there were ongoing investigations into further possible criminal acts by Mr Gibson and that the release of the report might prove prejudicial to the course of justice. Mr Gibson was subsequently found guilty of a further offence.
“In late 2019 clearance was given to publish the report and a process of ‘Maxwellisation’§ was undertaken. This process has taken some time and was disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic. We are now able to publish the report.
“Our commitment from the outset was to discover all that we could and to learn from what was found. We are very grateful to Dr Stephanie Hill for the work that she undertook.
“I reiterate the apology made back in August 2016 which said: ‘Following the conviction today of Granville Gibson on two charges of indecent assault, we offer an unreserved apology to all the survivors and those affected by this news. We commend the bravery of those who brought these allegations forward, acknowledging how difficult and distressing this would have been.’
“Whilst we were unable to publish the report in 2017 as we had hoped we have learned from it and undertaken changes in the light of the learning made. The report can be found on the Durham Diocese website here. Our actions in response can also be found on the Diocesan website here.
“We are conscious that the report is now published in the light of the IICSA Report into the Church of England more broadly. The IICSA report itself concluded both that the Church of England had in the past failed to protect some children and young people, and that, “Since […] 2013 much has improved, in terms of governance, training, audit, personnel, policies and procedures.” In the Diocese of Durham, we identify with the need to acknowledge and apologise for past failings, and we have been part of the change IICSA recognises.
“The IICSA report continued, ‘However, there is still more to be done. Senior leaders have demonstrated a determination to make necessary changes […] but, to be effective, this determination needs to be translated into action throughout the Church of England.’ Our commissioning of this report and our learning from it are part of our ongoing commitment in the Diocese of Durham to translate this determination to protect all vulnerable people into action in policy and practice.”
§ Wikipedia explains:
“Maxwellisation is the legal practice in English and Scots law that allows persons who are to be criticized in an official report to respond prior to publication, based on details of the criticism received in advance. The process takes its name from the publisher Robert Maxwell. In 1969, Maxwell was criticized in a report by the Department of Trade and Industry as “unfit to hold the stewardship of a public company”. Maxwell took the matter to court, where the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) was said by the judge to have “virtually committed the business murder” of Maxwell. To avoid any repeat following Mr Justice Forbes’ ruling, official policy was altered to ensure prior notice would be given of critical findings. Relevant witnesses are shown the specific extracts of reports relating to them.”
A detailed analysis of the practice of Maxwellisation was undertaken for the Treasury Committee in 2016.