BBC Radio 4 reported on Sunday, February 14, 2016 that Jehovah’s Witness Kingdom Hall elders in the UK were directed by the Watchtower Society’s headquarters to destroy certain documents that were of particular interest to the Goddard Inquiry investigating child abuse and reporting of criminal behavior.
The British government hearings are comparable to the Australian Royal Commission hearings that took place in August, 2015.
While the BBC’s report is correct that all Kingdom Halls were given direction about the destruction of certain internal documents, there is some debate and many unanswered questions as to whether this was a “change of policy” specifically intended by the Watchtower Society to prevent the Commission’s access.
Watchtower branch officers in the UK claim that this was not the case – and there is some evidence to support their claim. On the other hand, the Watchtower’s critics claim that the instructions regarding document destruction were specifically designed to complicate and frustrate the Commission’s investigation.
Jehovah’s Witnesses leaders did prepare a formal response to the BBC Radio 4 Broadcast (as read near the end of the program) that stated:
“We are pleased to confirm that our direction to all congregations in England and Wales is compliant with the terms of the Goddard inquiry…”
One would think that if this statement can be trusted, then Jehovah’s Witnesses leaders in the UK must have checked with the proper authorities before making such a claim. If Jehovah’s Witnesses elders and officers were compliant with the terms of the Goddard inquiry, and innocent of the charges made on the BBC broadcast – namely that they ordered congregations to destroy IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS – then the credibility of the accusers will certainly come under further scrutiny.
The following audio recording contains the introduction and program segment as presented by the BBC.