03/02/2017 09:24 SAST | Updated 03/02/2017 09:40 SAST

'Moral crusader' John Smyth Accused Of Abusing Teenagers

Smyth allegedly beat the teenagers as punishment for shoplifting and masturbation.

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Gavel and Sounding Block on leather table.

John Smyth, a British lawyer well-known in South African legal circles as fighting for the "inclusion of Christian values into South Africa's constitutional jurisprudence" stands accused of abusing teenage boys in his care, a report by the Mail & Guardian says.

The allegations against the Queen's Counsel, Smyth were revealed in a Channel 4 News expose called, "An Ungodly Crime?", which aired on Thursday in the United Kingdom.

The Mail & Guardian reported that the allegations run contrary to Smyth's reputation in South Africa as a "moral crusader". Smyth was involved in the organisation, Justice Alliance of South Africa.

According to the report, both Smyth and Jasa have been party to cases before the Constitutional Court with a particular Christian conservative bent, including teenage sex, abortion and euthanasia.

Allegedly, Smyth organised Christian camps for teenage boys in the UK, through the Iwerne Trust of which he was the chairperson. The Trust reportedly has ties to the Church of England.

There are claims that boys were beaten as punishment for shoplifting and even masturbation. None of these were reported to the police. Five of the 13 teenagers interviewed reported being beaten up to 650 strokes at a time, the Mail & Guardian said.

One survivor said they were made to wear nappies. The beatings were followed by hugs, and "kisses on the back and neck".

The Mail & Guardian was unable to contact Smyth for comment this week, but he reportedly told Channel 4, "(I am not) talking about what we did at all."

The Church of England apologised "unequivocally" and unreservedly" to all the survivors.