A number of allegations have been made against John Smyth, a former leader at Iwerne holiday camp which had close links with the church and where the Archbishop worked as a dormitory officer back in the late 1970s.
The allegations focus on Mr Smyth allegedly forcing boys to strip naked in his garden shed at his home in Winchester before subjecting them to sadomasochistic beatings, following an investigation by Channel 4 News into the QC and part-time judge who is now believed to be based in the South Africa.
One alleged victim told the broadcaster that he and other boys had been beaten so violently that they had to wear nappies to stop the bleeding.
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby
The lashes were meant to purge the boys of minor sins such as masturbation and pride, according to allegations.
Mark Stibbe, one of the alleged victims, told Channel 4 News: “He made me strip off my clothes and he got out a cane and started to beat me. He said, 'This is the discipline that God likes, it’s what’s going to help you become holy'.”
The Iwerne Trust, which ran the Christian-based camps, were made aware of the allegations and compiled a report in 1982 but never informed the police, according to the Channel 4 News report.
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The report concluded that: “The scale and severity of the practice was horrific.”
According to the report the boys were given 100 lashes as punishment for masturbation and 400 for exhibiting the sin of pride.
It also stated that eight of the boys received a total of 14,000 lashes, with two sharing 8,000 strokes over a three-year period.
Mr Smyth also allegedly kissed the necks of the naked boys after beating them, and to have recited bible verses about the virtues of punishment.
Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury
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While nothing was passed on to the authorities a senior figure in the trust wrote to Mr Smyth telling him to leave the country.
Mr Smyth repeatedly declined to comment when approached by the broadcaster.
Asked about the allegations, Mr Smyth told the broadcaster: "I'm not talking about that."
Mr Welby told LBC: ”The report which was done in 1982. Nobody knew about it in the Church for almost 30 years after that.
Justin Welby, The Archbishop of Canterbury has denied he knew about the allegations
"I was completely unaware of any abuse. I never heard anything at all at any point. I never had the slightest suspicion that there was anything going on."
He added: "I was told that the Bishop of Ely, it fell within his diocese, had been informed by a survivor of what had happened and had written to the police. We checked that indeed the police had been contacted immediately as our church rules.
"In the Church of England, we've tightened up enormously with safeguarding officers in every diocese.
"The safeguarding team that's gone from one half full-time person when I took over, we've now got six full-time people and so on. What I did was check, we checked that the police had been informed and they had been."
A statement issued on behalf of Mr Welby said: "John Smyth was one of the main leaders at the camp and although the archbishop worked with him, he was not part of the inner circle of friends; no-one discussed allegations of abuse by John Smyth with him.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby in London today
It continued: "We recognise that many institutions failed catastrophically but the church is meant to hold itself to a far, far higher standard and we have failed terribly.
"For that the archbishop apologises unequivocally and unreservedly to all survivors."
Lambeth Palace said that Mr Welby had worked at the camp until 1978 when he went to work in Paris it added that he was aware that Mr Smyth had moved overseas but, besides an “occasional card” did not maintain contact.
Graham Tilby, the Church of England's national safeguarding adviser, said the church had "immediately informed" police after they were alerted by an alleged victim in 2013.
Lambeth Palace said the archbishop was then made aware of the allegations.
Mr Tilby said a report by the trust into the allegations should have been referred to police at the time.
The Titus Trust, which took over some functions of the Iwerne Trust, said it was made aware of the allegations in 2014 and informed police and the Charity Commission.
A spokesman said: ”These are very disturbing allegations and our thoughts are primarily with all those affected.
"The allegations are very grave and they should have been reported to the police when they first became known in 1981."
Winchester College, where some of the young men met Mr Smyth, was made aware of the alleged abuse, but also failed to report it to the police at the time.
A statement said: “Winchester College deeply regrets the terrible ordeals of the victims and pays tribute to their courage in speaking out.
“The College has never sought to conceal these dreadful events. Nothing was held back in 1982 in the school’s enquiries.
“Housemasters were informed, and many parents consulted. The then Headmaster met John Smyth and required him to undertake never again to enter the College or contact its pupils.
“No report was made to the police at the time, not least because, understandably, parents of the victims felt that their sons should be spared further trauma, and these wishes were respected.”
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