A former Archbishop of York has been accused of covering up allegations that a senior Church of England clergyman had abused choirboys and school pupils. Lord Hope has told The Times he acted in line with the Church's child protection policy.
The Archbishop of York has said the Church of England treats child abuse allegations "with the utmost seriousness" as he confirmed he is setting up an independent inquiry into claims against a former cathedral dean.
Dr John Sentamu's statement comes after his predecessor, Lord Hope of Thornes, denied suggestions he covered up allegations against Robert Waddington, a former Dean of Manchester Cathedral, who died from cancer five years ago.
The Times newspaper claimed Lord Hope, who was Archbishop of York between 1995 and 2005, was twice informed about allegations against Mr Waddington, who is said to have abused a chorister in Manchester in the 1980s and a school boy in Australia.
The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, is to set up an independent inquiry into allegations that a senior Church of England clergyman had abused children. The late Very Rev Robert Waddington stands accused of abusing choirboys and school pupils.
When any church related abuse comes to light the church's first concern must be for the victim offering support and apologising for the abuse, acknowledging that the effects can be lifelong. When the inquiry makes its report the Archbishop will make its findings public . The Church of England continues to review its child protection and safeguarding policies regularly to ensure that the church is a safe place for all. Child abuse is a heinous and personally damaging crime, it is therefore incumbent on the church to treat such matters with the utmost seriousness."
– Spokesperson for John Sentamu, Archbishop of York
The former Archbishop of York, Lord Hope of Thornes, has denied covering up allegations that a senior clergyman sexually abused choirboys:
I strenuously deny (and am obviously disappointed at) the suggestion that myself or my team at the time would have acted negligently in this or any other safeguarding matter.
Under the Church of England's 1999 Policy on Child Protection which was in effect at the time (but which has subsequently been reviewed) Paragraph 31 states:
'There is no automatic legal obligation on the Church to refer allegations by adults to the police or social services. However it is essential to consider whether children may still be at risk from the abuser or alleged abuser and, if so, to ensure that appropriate steps are taken to safeguard them, and these will involve reporting the matter to the social services or the police.'
In considering whether children would be at risk from Robert Waddington I decided under these guidelines that this would not be the case given his serious ill health following cancer surgery. The following year I revoked Robert Waddington’s permission to officiate. He died two years later.
I am deeply aware of the pain caused to any victim of child abuse, especially at the hands of a trustworthy person within the church.
Manchester Cathedral said it was "shocked and saddened" to learn that a former Dean, the Very Rev Robert Waddington, allegedly abused a chorister.
We are shocked and saddened by the nature of these allegations relating to events in the early 1980’s.
We want to reassure parents and congregation members that for a number of years Manchester Cathedral has had in place a robust child protection policy with CRB checks made on all clergy and those who work with specifically with children.