Retired Church of England priest's string of child sex offences
A retired West Sussex Church of England priest and a former organist and choirmaster have been found guilty of a string of child sex abuse offences dating back more than 25 years.
A judge said that Father Keith Wilkie Denford and Michael Mytton had committed "a grave and gross breach of trust". Prosecutors said Denford, 78, used the respectability of the cassock to groom and abuse two boys over an 18-month period from when they were aged around 13.
Following Denford and Mytton's convictions, the Bishop of Chichester Dr Warner said: "I note the verdict reached by the court today and we will now move swiftly to implement our own disciplinary procedures following this verdict in the case of Mr Denford.
"The Diocese fully acknowledges the suffering caused both to survivors of abuse and their families.
"We deeply regret the betrayal of trust in the context of public pastoral ministry and we extend our prayers and support to those caught up in the events highlighted by this case".
Solicitor welcomes child sex abuse policy overhaul
Solicitor Richard Scorer, from Pannone LLP, has welcomed the Director of Public Prosecutions call for a radical overhaul of the way that sexual abuse is investigated. Under the current system, Mr Scorer says there is an unwillingness to listen to victims:
Ahead of his announcement on new measures to transform the way the criminal justice system approaches child sex abuse, the Direction of Public Prosecutions said:
"Police and prosecutors have significantly improved the way we investigate and prosecute sexual offences in recent years, particularly those involving children.
"The results have been encouraging with more cases being brought to court, higher conviction rates and more defendants pleading guilty.
"Yet, despite all this, events over the last 12 months raise fundamental questions about our approach to these cases.
He added: "We are clear that the yardsticks for testing the credibility and reliability of victims in sexual abuse cases do not serve the police or prosecutors well and risk leaving an identifiable group of vulnerable victims unprotected by the criminal law."
ACPO: New rules ensure 'we truly learn lessons of past'
This evening the DPP will set out the results of discussions undertaken with leading police officers, including Chief Constable David Whatton from the Association of Chief Police Officers' (ACPO). Mr Whatton said:
By working shoulder to shoulder with the Crown Prosecution Service and the College of Policing, ACPO is keen to ensure that we continue to build on progress in the area of sex offence investigation.
We have proposed a package of measures, including a rationalisation of guidance, training and consideration of a review panel mechanism to ensure we have truly learned from the lessons of the past.
Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer, is due to announce a series of changes in how police and the criminal justice system treat victims of child sex abuse in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal.
Mr Starmer said the scandal raised some "fundamental questions" on how the justice system approaches victims. He said:
"We cannot afford another Savile moment in five or 10 years' time. Whatever approach is now agreed it has to be fully informed, coherent, consistently applied across the country and able to withstand the test of time."
Radical measures to transform the way the criminal justice system approaches child sex abuse will be announced later today by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the police.
DPP Keir Starmer QC and Chief Constable David Whatton from the Association of Chief Police Officers' (ACPO), will set out plans for an overhaul of guidance, a programme of training, and proposals for a panel of officers and prosecutors to look at past decisions if requested.