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Compensation scheme milestone for abuse victims of religious sect The Jesus Army

Today (September 26) marks one year since the launch of the long-awaited Jesus Army Compensation Scheme. Survivors of the group and Malcolm Johnson, Head of Abuse Claims at Lime Solicitors, are calling on anyone eligible to come forward ahead of the scheme’s December 31 deadline.

To date, Malcolm has represented 140 claimants, with 25 claims settled so far. The Jesus Army was a cult-like religious movement in Northamptonshire, starting in 1969.

It attracted thousands of members, who lived together in close-knit, rural communities. In recent years, allegations of financial, emotional, physical and sexual abuse from both children and adults have emerged.

In 2019, ex-members told the BBC how children suffered abuse on a “prolific scale”, with most claims relating to incidents between the 1970s and 1990s. A number of people have been convicted of carrying out abuse at the Jesus Fellowship Church, which has since issued an apology.

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Philippa Barnes, Media Lead of the Jesus Fellowship Survivors Association, said: “This scheme has been the culmination of a long journey for many of us, and I’m incredibly proud of the achievements of the survivors who made this possible. Some effort is being made to redress the balance of power in this instance.

“With the scheme now a year old, we are running out of time to ensure those impacted by the Jesus Army, especially those who were children, have the opportunity to apply to the scheme. It is not going to please everyone however, I believe it is important to have abuse acknowledged and compensated.”

Malcolm Johnson, Head of Abuse Claims at Lime Solicitors, added: “All too often powerful individuals and institutions feel that they can act with impunity, and without consequences. This first of a kind compensation scheme shows what can be achieved when victims stand up and make their voices heard.

“However, there is still more work to be done. With the deadline on the horizon, people are running out of time to come forward, and ensure that their experiences are recognised. I would encourage anyone who thinks they may be eligible to come forward to receive further information and advice.”

The scheme is open to anyone who suffered sexual, physical, or emotional abuse in the Jesus Fellowship. There are also schemes available for individuals who have experienced other negative experiences due to the Church, including individuals who meet the broad criteria for community adverse experiences, either as a child or adult, which can be found here.

The main features of the Jesus Army Compensation Scheme are:

  • A written apology acknowledging what has happened to survivors, providing acceptance of responsibility and an assurance that lessons of the past have been learned and shared with relevant authorities
  • For sexual, physical or emotional abuse, an award of compensation for the harm a survivor has suffered, aligned with common law compensation awards
  • For sexual, physical or emotional abuse, an invitation to meet with a trustee of the church closing team
  • A dedicated support fund for individual grants towards counselling

Compensation will be awarded according to the severity of the abuse suffered. Typically, court-awarded payments for the “pain, suffering and loss of amenity” element of abuse range up to £120,000.

The deadline for applying to the scheme is 31st December 2023. If you were affected by the Jesus Army, email Malcolm.Johnson@limesolicitors.co.uk, call 0207 264 4352 or visit www.limesolicitors.co.uk.

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