Part-time judge John Smyth QC accused of abusing boys at Christian summer camps told parents he planned to shower and with their sons and used table tennis bats for “whacking” them.
John Smyth QC is being investigated by Hampshire Police over claims he subjected young men he met at camps attended by the Archbishop of Canterbury to savage sadomasochistic beatings.
The part-time judge moved to Zimbabwe in 1984 after the British assault allegations emerged in 1982, and founded a series of Christian camps at which it is claimed he again abused teenagers – some sent from the UK.
The boys run down in their towels and skinny-dip. Occasionally we have a day-scholar who finds this a bit strange, but having done it once, he discovers it is all part of the all-boys-together fun camp.
John Smyth QC’s letter to camp parents
Mr Smyth was charged with culpable homicide in 1997 after a 16-year-old boy was found at the bottom of a swimming pool at a camp in Zimbabwe in 1992.
Several other boys came forward to claim he had beaten them and forced them to swim naked while he watched, although both cases against him collapsed.
Now the Telegraph has obtained a letter written by Mr Smyth to parents of boys attending his 1993 summer camp, in which he says he will act as a “father figure”.
The letter, signed by the barrister and printed on the letterhead of his Zambesi Holidays firm, was sent to parents of boys booked to attend a camp at the Ruzawi School, an elite boarding school in the north-east of Zimbabwe.
Mr Smyth said that he wanted to create a “relaxed family atmosphere”.
He wrote: “I am determined that we should avoid a school atmosphere as far as possible. I am not a schoolmaster; I try instead to be something of a father figure to the camp, encouraging the younger leaders to care for their campers in the way the best of big brothers should. To this end we use Christian names all round, the younger leaders sleep in the dormitories with their campers, and we all (including myself from time to time) have our showers with the boys.”
The barrister, who was described by the Archbishop as a “delightful” man, also explained that he intended to impose a regime of corporal punishment.
He told parents: “We must, however, have good discipline and experience has shown that with so many high-spirited boys we need some form of sanction. I never cane the boys, but I do whack them with a table tennis bat when necessary. Such are the opportunities for pranks that I sometimes have to use this fairly liberally to deter high-spirited naughtiness and to ensure obedience and reasonable standards of tidiness. Although most of the boys regard TTB (as it is affectionately known) as little more than a joke, I try to keep a balance between making it a sufficient deterrent and not allowing it to spoil the happy atmosphere of camp. Very occasionally, if a boy offends in a more serious way, I will whack him with a slightly bigger bat which the boys call ‘Jokari’.”
He also encouraged the teenagers to swim naked: “Last thing at night the dormitory leaders will sometimes take their group for a short swim in the pool – or just a plunge if it is chilly. The boys run down in their towels and skinny-dip.”
He then adds: “Occasionally we have a day-scholar who finds this a bit strange, but having done it once, he discovers it is all part of the all-boys-together fun camp.”
Mr Smyth’s letter appears to back up claims from boys that they were abused by the barrister.
Rocky Leanders, who attended one of Mr Smyth’s camps in the early Nineties, said he had been beaten to the extent that he could “barely sit down”
The Telegraph revealed on Saturday that Mr Smyth blamed his actions on a sleeping pill addiction.
Hampshire Police is understood to have passed the investigation to its child sexual exploitation unit.