Religious charity told to create child protection policy

Watch Tower, the umbrella charity of the Jehovah's Witnesses, is to produce a child protection policy that will be binding on all the Christian denomination's charities.

The move comes after Charity Commission inquiry into the London Mill Hill Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses.

The inquiry was prompted by press reports linking convicted sex offender Michael Porter with the Mill Hill charity. Porter was an elder and trustee of the charity from October 2004, but was removed from both positions after his arrest for indecent assault and gross indecency in November 2006.

Porter was allowed to remain a member of the congregation and remained listed on the commission's register of charities as a trustee.

The commission concluded that the trustees of the charity acted reasonably in the action they took when the allegations arose, and had ensured that, although Porter was allowed to remain a member of the congregation, he had no unsupervised access to children or young people and his actions were closely monitored.

The commission asked the charity to produce a child protection policy to formalise existing procedures.

The Mill Hill charity is working with Watch Tower to produce a policy that will be adopted by all Jehovah's Witnesses' charities represented by Watch Tower.

The commission also said that trustees should provide information about serious incidents as soon as they became aware of them.

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