England

Bishop of Guildford 'suffered excruciating abuse'

Bishop Andrew Watson Image copyright PA
Image caption Bishop Andrew Watson said he has contacted Hampshire police

The Bishop of Guildford has claimed he was abused by a former colleague of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

It follows allegations by Channel 4 News that 22 boys were beaten by former Christian charity head John Smyth QC in the 1970s.

Bishop Andrew Watson said he endured a "violent, excruciating and shocking" beating at the hands of Mr Smyth.

The Archbishop of Canterbury apologised "unreservedly" over previous claims.

The alleged assaults came to light in the early 1980s when one of the victims, a 21-year-old student at Cambridge University, reportedly attempted to kill himself after he was told to submit to another beating.

Image copyright Justice Alliance of South Africa
Image caption John Smyth QC was a senior member of Christian charity the Iwerne Trust in the 1970s and 1980s

Mr Smyth was chairman of the Iwerne Trust, a charity linked to the church which ran Christian holiday camps for public school students.

A 1982 report by the charity called the alleged assaults "horrific".

The report remained private, and Mr Smyth was told to leave the country. He now lives in South Africa and has declined to comment.

One of the alleged victims complained to the Church again in 2013 and it was only then referred to the police.

'Infamous garden shed'

The bishop described Mr Smyth as a "misguided, manipulative and dangerous man".

In a statement on the Diocese of Guildford website, Bishop Watson said: "I am one of the survivors of John Smyth's appalling activities in the late 1970s and early '80s.

"I am also one of the bishops in the Church of England. This has placed me in a unique and challenging position when it comes to the events of the past few days.

"The beating I endured in the infamous garden shed was violent, excruciating and shocking; but it was thankfully a one-off experience never to be repeated."

Bishop Watson added that he contacted Hampshire police over the weekend.

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