Charity Commission contacts Christian charity about historical abuse allegations

The allegations concern a person associated with the Iwerne Trust - since taken over by the Titus Trust - which ran a holiday camp in the 1970s and 1980s

The Charity Commission has said it is in contact with a Christian charity about allegations of historical physical abuse that allegedly took place at a holiday camp run by the charity.

The allegations, which will be broadcast in a Channel 4 programme tonight, concern a person associated with the Iwerne Trust. It is alleged that the abuse took place during a holiday camp run by the charity in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

The allegations were reported to the police and the Charity Commission after they came to light. A statement from the Church of England said it was alerted by a survivor through the diocese of Ely in 2013.

In a statement, the Titus Trust, which replaced the Iwerne Trust in 1997, said the allegations were "very disturbing".

The statement said: "It was only in 2014 that the board of the Titus Trust became aware of these allegations, after which the trust provided full disclosure to the police, offering full cooperation with any inquiry that might arise as a result. The allegations were very grave and we believe that they should have been reported to the police when they first became known in 1981.

"The trustees also reported these allegations to the Charity Commission in 2014, which confirmed that it had no regulatory concerns about the management of the Titus Trust. A further update was sent to the commission this week.

"Our safeguarding policy is in line with latest best practice to ensure the safety and care of every individual on our holidays. The trust is committed to operating a stringent policy which is regularly reviewed and updated."

A Charity Commission spokeswoman said: "We received serious incident reports from the Titus Trust in October 2014 and January 2017 regarding allegations of historic abuse by an individual associated with the charity. We are in contact with the charity’s trustees and will be seeking more information to assess any regulatory role for the commission and to seek assurances regarding the procedures and controls that the charity has in place to safeguard its beneficiaries."

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has released a statement confirming that he was a dormitory officer at Iwerne holiday camp in the late 1970s, the period when the allegations about one of the camp’s leaders took place.

Welby said he was unaware of the allegations at the time. He said they were reported to the police in August 2013, when he was also first made aware of them.

The statement said: "The archbishop has repeatedly said that he believes that the safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults should be a principal priority in all parts of the church, and that any failings in this area must be immediately reported to the police.

"The archbishop is on the record as saying that survivors must come first, not the church’s own interests. This applies regardless of how important, distinguished or well-known the perpetrator is."

Graham Tilby, national safeguarding adviser at the Church of England, said in a statement that "more could have been done at the time to look further into the case".

He said: "We echo the archbishop's unreserved and unequivocal apology to all the survivors and are committed to listen to anyone who comes forward, and we would urge anyone with any further information to report it to the police."

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