Website: Northampton Chronicle and Echo
Link : https://www.northamptonchron.co.uk/news/people/solicitor-working-with-survivors-of-religious-cult-in-northampton-urges-more-victims-to-contact-him-3869023
‘People really have nothing to lose’
A solicitor working on behalf of survivors of a religious cult in Northampton is appealing for more victims to come forward to claim compensation.
Malcolm Johnson, head of Lime Solicitors’ abuse department, is appealing for more survivors from the Jesus Army to get in touch with him to start a claim as part of a compensation scheme.
Over the last decade, allegations of financial, emotional, physical and sexual abuse associated with The Jesus Army have surfaced, resulting in criminal convictions for offenders.
n September, The Jesus Fellowship Community Trust published its long-awaited compensation scheme for survivors of abuse within the now-defunct religious sect, which could see victims gets up to £80,000.
Malcolm, who is advising the Jesus Fellowship Survivors Association, which has been set up to support victims of abuse in the church, says that since the scheme was announced 70 people have contacted him, but he believes there are thousands more who could have a claim.
He said: "This is really the last chance, the last chance for them to tell their story. This isn't just about compensation, we're dealing with allegations which have never been disclosed to the church at all.
"I would imagine the vast majority of people who joined the church were affected in some way. We think the church had anything from 4,000 to 5,000 members. But the history of schemes is that only a small proportion of people ever come forward.
"A simple conversation with me could be the difference between not getting anything and getting something. People really have nothing to lose. I think this is a positive step for people to take.
"This scheme will close at the end of next year. Don’t hold back, now is the time to get in touch."
Malcolm added that giving a statement 'isn't as awful as it may appear' and that it is all 'risk free'.
The solicitor went on to clarify people's 'misconceptions' about the church and the scheme.
He said: "People believe the current church is still run by the 'old guard' and that it's all corrupt and there's no point making a claim. That is completely wrong. The church is dissolving itself, it's selling its assets, it is no more.
"The compensation scheme is run by professional trustees who have nothing to do with the church. They are not part of the history of the church."
Malcolm said this is victims’ chance to have a say.
He said: "Money is never enough, we all know that, but this is more than just about justice or money, it's about making your allegations, putting them out there rather than keeping them to yourself or thinking there is no point in saying this. It's a unique occasion.
"A lot of people have come forward. My suspicion is, what we're hearing now is far more of the totality of what happened.
"I never ceased to be shocked by the things that went on in this church and how rife abuse was and how abuse flourished in plain sight of other people."
If you were affected by Jesus Army, email (contact details within article) or visit www.limesolicitors.co.uk.
The deadline for applying to the scheme is December 31, 2023.