John Smyth Review

A review of the Church’s handling of allegations of abuse carried out by the late John Smyth is being carried out by the Church and was announced in August 2019. The aims of this review are to:

  • Establish what the Church of England knew about the abuse
  • Explore what the Church should have known, within the best practices and standards at the time of the abuse
  • Make recommendations on changes that can be made to help avoid such abuse happening again.

The independent reviewer is Keith Makin, Keith will be assisted by Sarah Lawrence who is also independent. They would like to speak with anyone who suffered abuse by John Smyth or has been affected by it. The reviewers are also keen to hear from people with other information which may help with the review. All communication and meetings will be confidential, open and supportive. The final report will be anonymised, and no individuals will be identifiable.

Mr Makin says:

“I fully understand this is a very difficult and sensitive matter deeply affecting victims and their families. I will be conducting this review with the principle of putting victims first, it is vital that we are able to gain input and hear stories directly from those affected by this abuse. I would like to assure anyone who gets in touch that Sarah and I will listen very openly and carefully to what you have to tell us. We are acting completely independently and will explore all relevant information that is brought to our attention. We will also be looking into written information and media reports, that have been produced in the three decades since the first abuse is known to have occurred.”

Both the reviewers and the Church recognise that giving information to this review has the potential to be re-traumatising for victims and survivors. While support has previously been offered the NST has now secured the service of a specialist advocacy service. FearFree Support provides specialist support to victims and survivors of abuse, offering trauma informed and victim led bespoke support. Its director of services has identified an experienced independent advocate for victims and survivors – Nina Tanner – to deliver this service and this information has been relayed to the survivors and victims. Anyone wishing to make contact with Nina, can email: [email protected] or on 07825 741751 

The Terms of Reference show that the review will also consider the response of the other organisations involved; Winchester College, the Titus Trust, and the Scripture Union, to the extent that those organisations are willing to co-operate.

The Safeguarding Review Privacy Notice can be found here.


Keith can be contacted on the dedicated confidential email address - [email protected] - or by phone at 07713149683.

Keith Makin has an extensive knowledge of and background in safeguarding. He has been a Director of Social Services, a Chief Executive of an independent child care company and the Director of a Local Government Improvement Agency. He has led on a large number of abuse inquiries and reviews for both children and adults.

Sarah Lawrence has worked at a senior level delivering serious child and adult case reviews where there has been abuse or neglect. Sarah’s work includes reviews of non current cases and ensuring that victim and survivor input is central to the review process. Sarah has also delivered work with services to implement changes to improve responses as a result of findings from reviews.