Former Archbishop of York John Sentamu steps down from duties after failing to act on abuse claims

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Lord Sentamu rejects the report's findings. Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

The former Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, has been forced to step down from his duties within the Church of England after a review into the handling of sex abuse allegations.

The Diocese of Newcastle says it required Honorary Assistant Bishop Sentamu to step back from active ministry while it explores his response to allegations against the late Reverend Trevor Devamanikkam.

It follows the publication of an independent review on Thursday 11 May that found Rev Matthew Ineson was sexually abused at the age of 16 by Rev Devamanikkam in Bradford in the 1980s.

Lord Sentamu rejected the findings of the review which concluded that he failed to act on a victim's disclosure of sex abuse.

Devanimakkam was charged with six serious sexual offences in May 2017, all relating to Rev Matthew Ineson, but he was found dead having killed himself before he was due to appear in court.

The report said while he was not convicted, the reviewer "for the benefit of doubt can confirm the survivor was sexually abused by Trevor Devanimakkam".

Ten years ago, Rev Ineson told some senior clergy members including John Sentamu - the then Archbishop of York - about this abuse.

The review concluded that Lord Sentamu should have sought advice from his diocesan safeguarding advisor at the time on how to proceed with the information he had received.

He rejected the reviewer's findings, insisting there had been a "fundamental misunderstanding on her part of the jurisdictional, pastoral and legal responsibilities of diocesan bishops and archbishops of the Church of England".

He added that the matter has been in the Diocese of Sheffield "and therefore not for the diocesan safeguarding advisor for York Diocese".

The Diocese of Newcastle says it remains committed to the highest standards of safeguarding and Bishop of Newcastle Helen-Ann Hartley took appropriate advice and asked Lord Sentamu to step down. It says the Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, is fully supportive of this decision.

Responding to the review, Bishop Joanna Grenfell, safeguarding lead for the House of Bishops said: "The Church should be ashamed that a vulnerable 16-year-old in its care was let down by the Church and abused by someone in a position of trust.

"We are truly sorry for the abuse he suffered and for our failure to respond well."

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