THE Times/Australian story about Robert Waddington on
Saturday was a good, memorable piece of journalism. Waddington, as
Dean of Manchester a decade ago, was an assiduous and successful
abuser of young boys.
In the Times story, his conduct, in Manchester and
earlier in Australia, was reported three times to the then
Archbishop of York, Dr David Hope. He never passed these complaints
on to the police, though he certainly believed them by the end, to
the extent of withdrawing Waddington's permission to officiate.
In the light of this refusal, it is difficult to understand Lord
Hope's denial that there was any cover-up. Failing to report
matters to the police or other proper authorities is exactly what
constitutes a cover-up. You don't need to go around murdering the
witnesses or anything.
The comment on this from the child-protection officer involved,
Ray Morris, was also illuminating: "My own take is that Archbishop
David was very much of the old school. He took responsibility for
things. He formed judgements and he proceeded on that basis. If he
believed Waddington posed no threat at the time, then he really
But what really lifted this story out of the ordinary rut, so to
say, of horrible child-abuse stories was the long interview with
one of the victims, Eli Ward. He wasn't simply a loser from the
deal, something that makes the price he paid all the more
"Eli Ward has a taste for good wine, a liking for handmade
shoes, and a well-spoken manner that suggests an expensive
education rather than the reality of his working-class roots in
"But he frequently despises his love of the finer things because
they were instilled in him by the clergyman who groomed and abused
him throughout his teenage years. . .
"'It feels to me now that the things I love today, they're all
linked to him,' says Mr Ward, 40. 'Every day I have a glass of wine
I think it's because of him. And I like £300 shoes and that's
because of him.
"'I come from Salford but I speak like this because of
The story of his seduction is also really well told: "Waddington
asked among the young choristers for volunteers to help to clean
the railings at the high altar.
"Mr Ward recalled how two or three helpers drifted away until it
was just him and the Dean. Then Waddington dropped his brush and
exclaimed 'S***!'. The boy, then aged 11, was shocked but the Dean
just laughed and told him not to worry. They spent the rest of the
afternoon 'giggling and singing the word "s***".'"
"By the age of 13, Mr Ward was sleeping in the Dean's bed. Hugs
became cuddles became kissing. The catalyst for sexual abuse, Mr
Ward recalls, was his distress over a break-up with a
I suppose the question to which we will never know the answer is
whether Waddington himself thought of this as love. If he did,
would that make him more or less guilty, a worse or better
THE other excellent story was Lucy Kellaway's lunch with the
Archbishop of Canterbury in the Financial Times. This
contained what is either the most stunning piece of image-making
since the Pope washed the feet of a Muslim woman, or a confirmation
of a real disdain for material comfort:
"Alas, today he isn't in the new shoes I'd read about; when he
lifts his foot to show me I see his old black brogues have holes in
"Mostly, he says, he gets his clothes at Oxfam. I suggest eBay
as an even cheaper alternative, though warn that sellers might be
surprised to find themselves posting their old clothes to Lambeth
For a member of the Parliamentary Commission on banking
standards to have lunch with the Financial Times while
wearing shoes with holes in them shows, if nothing else, just how
much self-confidence Eton and Trinity can give a man.
The other illuminating part of the story is when he is pressed
(for the umpteenth time, I imagine) on exactly what celibacy means
for gay clergy: "I'm not going to go into all the sort of
intricacies of what it might or might not mean specifically, not
least because we've just had lunch and it's a bad post-lunchtime
conversation. I'm not going there."
This capacity not to talk about what he does not wish to talk
about seems to me one of the most striking differences from his
prececessor, a man much more likely, in the popular imagination, to
walk around in shoes with holes in them.