A Lessons Learned Review is not a formal fact-finding investigation but is to provide an external individual or organisation the opportunity to gather and analyse information from a range of sources in relation to an event or series of events in order to draw evidence- based conclusions and make recommendations.
The methodology adopted largely followed a systems approach for case reviews1. This approach allows for exploration of why and how behaviours develop and importantly requires reflection on both failings and good practice of individuals, cultures, and systems.
98 participants provided information to the Review. Participation was via interview or providing written answers to questions or written submissions. 59 participants were members or former members of ECW2, 33 were role holders or former role holders and 27 were victims or those who had experienced the behaviours focused on in this report3.
JF was directly invited to participate in the review through letters sent from the Reviewers. Five letters were sent to JF between May 2020 and December 2020 expressing the commitment of the Reviewers to his inclusion in the interests of fairness and transparency.
Final Report – Independent Lessons Learned Review for Emmanuel Church Wimbledon (March 2021) Page | 4
He did not take up the offers to participate by phone, online or written questions and therefore did not contribute to the Review process.
The Reviewers spoke to participants with a variety of experiences of JF including many who contacted them to inform the Review of deeply harmful behaviours experienced from JF. Others contacted the Review to request that their positive experiences were included. The positive experiences reported dispel the myth that people with positive attributes are not capable of committing abusive behaviours. The positive experiences also acted against disclosure, it being difficult to disclose in a context where the individual and their ministry is perceived positively by many. This is one of the reasons why it took so long for abuse allegations to come to light and not to be disclosed at ECW. The Review evidences that a person who possesses positive characteristics and is widely highly -regarded, could nonetheless display entirely inappropriate, abusive and harmful behaviours which render them unfit for their office.
Various forms of harmful behaviour from JF were reported by participants. These included coercion and control, bullying, and some referred to their experiences as spiritual abuse (See C 1.1). There were reports of naked massages and saunas, forfeits including smacking with a gym shoe, and ice baths. These behaviours are already in the public domain as a result of press coverage in 2019 and 2020.
In addition to the behaviours set out above, during the review a serious incident of a sexual nature was reported. One participant reported that JF told him to perform a sex act in front of him and when he did not, JF performed the act instead. This behaviour demonstrates a gross abuse of power and in the opinion of the reviewers is far beyond anything which can be deemed acceptable or appropriate from a minister in a position of power, trust and responsibility. Further, it raises a question regarding whether this would be regarded as misconduct in a public office. We conclude that very few, if any, knew about this incident prior to 2017. We state for the record that JF has never been charged with or found guilty of any offence.”
2 The definition of member used by the Reviewers includes those who were regular attendees for at least a year 3 It is important to note that some of those who experienced the behaviours stated this was consensual and not abusive and did not identify as victims