An apology from the Archbishop of Canterbury‚ Justin Welby — who was a dormitory officer at a camp where Smyth was one of the main leaders in the late 1970s — followed a six-month investigation by Channel 4 News‚ which tracked down and spoke with many of Smyth’s alleged victims.
Said presenter Cathy Newman: “One man told us that he and other boys were beaten so violently by Smyth that they had to wear nappies to staunch the bleeding.”
Many teenagers at the holiday camps at Winchester College in the 1970s and 1980s likened Smyth to a cult leader‚ she said.
“He cultivated small groups of followers‚ over whom he developed a form of psychological control. Favoured young men were invited to visit him at his home for Sunday lunch.
“Now men in their fifties‚ they allege Smyth would recite passages of the Bible to them‚ before beating them with a cane in his garden shed.
“Mark Stibbe‚ who went on to be a vicar and is now an author‚ told us: ‘It was along the lines of‚ this is the discipline that God likes‚ this is what’s going to help you to become holy’.
“Richard Gittins … told us: ‘We used to have to put nappies on [and after grace] everybody would sit down together. And in the process of sitting down‚ we perfected the ability to sit down really quickly‚ before your bottom touched the chair‚ and in the last couple of inches you’d just ease yourselves down; so it didn’t look like you were in any pain.’
“Another man‚ who has given evidence to us anonymously‚ said he grew so fearful of the beatings that he tried to take his own life in 1981.”
Newman said the suicide attempt prompted the Iwerne Trust to launch an investigation and compile a confidential report‚ which had been seen by Channel 4 News and described what it called the “beatings” of 22 young men.