Times Dec 7 2018 : Church promises to stop gagging abuse claimants

The Archbishop of Canterbury has described non-disclosure agreements as “dangerous”
The Archbishop of Canterbury has described non-disclosure agreements as “dangerous”
The Church of England has promised to cut down its use of non-disclosure agreements after claims that they are being used to force people to remain silent over issues such as abuse.

The church has used the “corrupt and destructive” agreements several times this year, the Bishop of Buckingham, the Right Rev Alan Wilson, said.

He spoke out after one woman, Jo Kind, revealed that she had been made to sign such an agreement before being allowed to read a report criticising the church’s handling of her allegation of abuse. She said a priest used to walk around naked “in various states of arousal” while she worked for him.

Dr Wilson said it was the fourth “corrupt and destructive” non-disclosure agreement (NDA) that had come to his attention since September. “They seem inherently abusive, mainly used to provide a carpet under which to sweep abuse. If people really want them they should be time-limited with reasons.” He said he was unable to share details of the individual cases but that some were “complete shockers”.

The Diocese of Birmingham said the NDA was used to ensure that all those who read the report did not share any testimony provided by other contributors who wanted to remain anonymous.

The church said it would discourage their use. A spokeswoman said: “Guidance . . . will soon be going out to consultation and will include advice against the use of NDAs. Once this is approved by the House of Bishops, all dioceses will be expected to have due regard to this policy. This has been formulated over the past year and is not a direct result of any current case.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury questioned their use while giving evidence to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse this year, saying: “A non-disclosure agreement seems to me to be dangerous because it creates suspicion: why are you doing an NDA? Surely you’re trying to cover something up.”

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