|England & Wales|
|Method||“To seek by every available effective means to make the Christian faith a living practical issue to young people having a past or present association with independent schools in England and Wales, this being done in accordance with the basis of faith.”|
|The Revd The Hon David Fletcher, Rev Giles Rawlinson (Chair until 2016)|
|Subsidiaries||Iwerne Holidays, Christian Activity Holidays Forres, Lymington Rushmore Holidays, Gloddaeth, LDN Holidays|
The Titus Trust, a registered charity in the UK, is the successor organisation to Iwerne Trust. It runs evangelical Christian holiday camps for children and young people at independent schools. The camps provide adventure activities including kayaking, climbing, go-karting, sailing, laser clay-pigeon shooting and other activities, while also providing Bible studies and discussion groups on the Christian faith.
Titus Trust grew out of the Iwerne Trust which was created in 1932 by E. J. H. Nash, popularly known as "Bash", in the village of Iwerne Minster in Dorset, to promote evangelicalism in the Church of England and in senior leadership positions in the British establishment. The Iwerne camps produced many men who became influential church leaders such as John Stott, David Sheppard, Michael Green, Dick Lucas and Justin Welby among those attending.
The keynotes of Iwerne were always very simple bible teaching and pastoral care through strongly developed friendships at all levels. Attendance was by invitation only and limited to boys at major public schools, at least boarding schools. The unofficial, sotto voce, slogan of the ‘Bash Camps’ (Bash being the very affectionate name given to E. J. H. Nash) was ‘key boys from key schools’ and, whilst this strategy of creating a patrician, elitist Christian society was criticised by many, the results were most remarkable.
The Titus Trust was set up in 1997 and took over fundraising from the Iwerne Trust. In 2000 it took control of the running of the holidays from the Scripture Union.
John Smyth abuse scandal
John Smyth QC a former Chairman of Iwerne Trust had been wanted for questioning by the police at the time of his death in August 2018. There were multiple claims from former boys at Winchester College during the 1970s and 1980s of savage psycho-sexual beatings. Smyth had previously worked as a barrister representing the moralising campaigner Mary Whitehouse. Reports of his alleged physical abuse of at least 22 boys were revealed in an investigation by Channel 4 News in February 2017.
Iwerne Trust had carried out its own internal report in 1982, but this was not made public until 2016. It found Smyth targeted pupils from leading public schools and took them to his home near Winchester in Hampshire, where he carried out lashings with a garden cane in his shed. It said eight of the boys received a total of 14,000 lashes, while two more received 8,000 strokes between them over three years. Iwerne Trust called the practice "horrific" but did not report the claims to police until 2013 - more than 30 years later.
Smyth fled the United Kingdom in 1984 and moved to Zimbabwe where, in 1986, he set up summer camps for boys from the country's leading schools. He was arrested in 1997 during an investigation into the drowning of Guide Nyachuru, a 16-year-old adolescent, at the Marondera camp. He then moved to Cape Town, South Africa, where he ran the Justice Alliance of South Africa for some years. The Alliance describes itself as "a coalition of corporations‚ individuals and churches committed to upholding and fighting for justice and the highest moral standards in South African society." It transpired that he had practised the same vicious beatings on many more young boys in these countries.
Following his death, the Titus Trust released a statement which said:
It is deeply regrettable that John Smyth's death has robbed his victims of the opportunity to see justice done. Since 2014, when the board of the Titus Trust was informed of the allegations, we have done all we can to ensure the matter is properly investigated by the relevant authorities. We sympathise deeply with Smyth's victims and continue to pray that they find healing and freedom from the harm that was so unjustly inflicted on them. Our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by the news of John Smyth's death.
A group of survivors describing themselves as 'amongst the scores of victims' beaten by Smyth released their own statement which outlined that they were 'appalled' by the response of Titus Trust. They denied the Trust had done all it could to ensure Smyth was properly investigated and also its claim that the Trust was only notified of the allegations against him in 2014. They stated that one of its trustees, David Fletcher, had commissioned a report into Smyth in 1982 but not passed any information to the police. Fletcher also had a further report of Smyth's abuse in Zimbabwe in 1993. They also claimed that reports were stored in the loft of the chair of the Trust, Giles Rawlinson, and were not made available to any secular authorities until 2017, when they were requisitioned by Hampshire police under warrant. The survivors went on to say that the Trust had refused to engage with victims, show any concern for their well-being, or offer support. Their statement said:
Their protestation of sympathy is cynical and disingenuous. Had the Titus Trust acted on the information that was available to it since its foundation, Smyth's abuse could have been stopped long ago. Our hearts go out to the 60 or more children of Zimbabwe and South Africa who suffered at the hands of John Smyth as we did, but needlessly. We have no interest in the "thoughts and prayers" of the Titus Trust. We do not believe they are fit to work with children.
As at present, there have been calls for an independent inquiry into both the abuse and also the culture of the Trust that enabled John Smyth to evade justice despite awareness amongst so many trustees, associated clergy and senior figures within the Church of England. In August 2018, it was reported that a group of survivors had launched a legal claim against the Titus Trust, who now run the Iwerne Trust camps. The group of men who have launched this action say that the Trust has remained silent since the allegations about Smyth emerged. They engaged Richard Scorer to act for them. Andrew Graystone, acting as their advocate, said
“I have personally written to every individual Titus Trustee more than once, pleading for them to do their duty as trustees and as Christians, and help the victims. Not one has responded. The refusal of the trustees to offer any help to Smyth’s victims has massively compounded their suffering.
- "Charitable Objects". Charity Commission website. 2 December 2018.
- Charity Commission. The Titus Trust, registered charity no. 1066751.
- Manwaring, Randle (1985). From Controversy to Co-Existence: Evangelicals in the Church of England 1914-1980. Cambridge University Press. pp. 57–58. ISBN 9780521892476.
- "Abuse perpetrated under the cloak of religion sets a trap which lasts a lifetime". The Telegraph. 16 March 2018. Retrieved 15 August 2018.
- "John Smyth: the go-to barrister for Mary Whitehouse". The Guardian. 2 February 2017. Retrieved 15 August 2018.
- "John Smyth QC Faces Fresh Allegations Over Abuse In Zimbabwe". Christian Today. 8 February 2017. Retrieved 15 August 2018.
- "John Smyth". Titus Trust. Retrieved 15 August 2018.
- Brown, Andrew (17 August 2018). "Press: From the horrific to the downright insincere". Church Times. Retrieved 13 January 2019.
- "John Smyth victims slam 'cynical and disingenuous' Titus Trust apology". Christian Today. 14 August 2018. Retrieved 15 August 2018.
- "John Smyth victim calls for independent inquiry after he claims church 'marks its own exams'". The Telegraph. 13 August 2018. Retrieved 15 August 2018.
- "John Smyth's accusers launch claim against Titus Trust". Church Times. 24 August 2018. Retrieved 4 December 2018.
- "John Smyth's accusers launch claim against Titus Trust". Church Times. 24 August 2018. Retrieved 12 November 2018.