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Sentamu announces inquiry into Waddington abuse case

17 May 2013


AN INDEPENDENT inquiry is to be set up into allegations that a former Archbishop of York, the Rt Revd Lord Hope of Thornes, failed to report allegations of child abuse, either to the police, or to independent child-protection agencies. The Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu, announced the inquiry on Saturday afternoon.

The case has raised questions about whether the Church has a responsibility to pass allegations by adult survivors of alleged abuse to the police when consent is not given by the survivor. The chief executive of the Churches' Child Protection Advisory Service (CCPAS) warned on Tuesday that "overriding" the wishes of an adult who does not give consent could reinforce his or her sense of powerlessness.

After a joint investigation, The Times in London and The Australian newspaper in Sydney reported last Friday that Lord Hope had been told of allegations against the Very Revd Robert Waddington, a former Dean of Manchester, in 1999 and in 2003.

As Archbishop of York from 1995 to 2005, Lord Hope had removed the Dean's permission to officiate in 2005, but had not reported the allegations to the police or child-protection authorities. Dean Waddington, who who was Dean from 1984 until he retired in 1993, died in 2007.

On Thursday, fresh allegations were published in The Times. The victim, who asked to be identified only as P, told the newspaper that he met Dean Waddington in 1993 and was subjected to "frequent indecent assaults" over a period of years. This is the first time that allegations have been made about the Dean's behaviour after his retirement in 1993. 

Allegations of abuse perpetrated by Dean Waddington were first made in Australia, where he was Headmaster of St Barnabas School, Ravenshoe, from 1961 to 1970.

The Australian reports that, in 1999, Bim Atkinson told the Rt Revd Clyde Wood, then Bishop of North Queensland, Australia, about years of abuse at the hands of Dean Waddington, when Mr Atkinson had been a pupil at St Barnabas. Mr Atkinson had been made solo treble of the school choir, aged nine, and the alleged sexual assaults had begun. Waddington had raped him "once or twice a week for years", he told the newspaper.

Bishop Wood says he reported the allegations to the Rt Revd Christopher Mayfield, Bishop of Manchester from 1993 to 2002, who said that Waddington had retired in 1993. Lord Hope was then told, and confronted Dean Waddington.

On Tuesday, a spokesman for Church House said that Bishop Mayfield's successor, the Rt Revd Nigel McCulloch, disputed whether Bishop Mayfield had been informed.


In 1999, Lord Hope wrote to Bishop Wood saying that Dean Waddington was "shocked and distressed" by the allegations, and that church records showed no "hint of such behaviour throughout the time of his ministry here in England".

Lord Hope wrote of Dean Waddington: "He was clearly shocked, and indicated to me that, whilst he may have acted at times in a way which could have been misinterpreted, he could not recall any particular incident or incidents which were of the 'seriousness' which you describe in your letter.

"He said he was deeply sorry for anything he may have done so to offend, and wished to extend an unreserved apology to the young man concerned and to make it very clear that there is no question of any such behaviour occurring again."

Mr Atkinson said that Bishop Wood had told him that Dean Waddington had denied everything and was close to death. Mr Atkinson asked for a copy of the letter from Lord Hope before "relinquishing the Anglican Church" from any responsibility for the alleged abuse. Bishop Wood then wrote to Lord Hope: "I can only hope and pray that this matter now having been raised, and Father Waddington being traumatised by the receipt of the allegations, that now notice of closure from this end, will not leave Father Waddington permanently distressed by this matter."

In the report in The Times on Thursday, P claims that Dean Waddington was "as fit as a fiddle" in 1999. 

In 2002, learning that Dean Waddington was still alive, Mr Atkinson made a complaint to the police. He was joined by a fellow pupil, who made similar allegations. Police said that there was not enough evidence to extradite the Dean to Australia.

Mr Atkinson continued to press for an investigation. In 2005, the Anglican Professional Standards Committee wrote to him saying that it did not believe that "spending a huge amount of money on another investigation will benefit anyone". Mr Atkinson received a £50,000 compensation payout from the Church, but no admission of liability. The Bishop of Queensland, the Rt Revd William Ray, has since said that he will refer the handling of the case to the General Synod and Australia's Royal Commission on institutional child abuse, established this year.

Allegations were first made in England in 2003 by the family of a former chorister at Manchester Cathedral, Eli Ward. Bishop McCulloch, who retired this year, was made aware of the allegations by the diocesan child-protection adviser; but a diocesan child-protection report said that "little could be done" unless the victim himself came forward.

Mr Ward was seven when he joined the cathedral choir in Manchester in 1980. In an interview published in The Times on Friday, he described a "lengthy grooming process". By his mid-teens he was spending almost every weekend and many nights at the Dean's house, going on holiday with him to Cornwall, the Lake District, Paris, and the South of France. This had prompted him to ask "severe, strong questions of my family: why did you let it happen? I was the boyfriend of a monster - so what does that make me? Why didn't people say anything at the time? Why didn't somebody do something about it?"

While at university, Mr Ward phoned Dean Waddington, then retired, to ask him questions. The Dean told him: "Forget those memories and push them to the far reaches of your brain and never tell anyone again, and come and see me."

Mr Ward told The Times of how the abuse by Dean Waddington had caused an "identity crisis" in his life: "It feels to me now that the things I love today, they're all linked to him . . . I come from Salford, but I speak like this because of him. I come from a very poor background, yet people think I'm a wealthy individual or I've gone to public school. This is the identity crisis that I've had and still have because I don't know who I am."

Last year, after the Jimmy Savile scandal emerged, Mr Ward "started to scream very loudly that I needed help". He contacted Lambeth Palace, the diocese of Manchester, the police, and a solicitor. He decided to make his experience public after discovering about the allegations from Mr Atkinson, and the Church's knowledge of them in 1999.

The report compiled by the diocese of Manchester after the allegations made by Mr Ward's family in 2003 refers to a "previous referral about sexual impropriety some time ago from Australia, where RW had been the headmaster at a school. An ex-pupil had made a complaint to the Bishop of [North] Queensland who had relayed it to the Archbishop [of York]." Mr Ward's family was not told about this.

On Thursday, The Times published an interview with "P" in which he claims that, after meeting Dean Waddington in 1993, he was subjected to "frequent indecent assaults over a period of years when he regularly visited Waddington, who retired from Manchester to live in York". P said that he was one of several boys who attended Chetham's School of Music and sang in the choir at Manchester Cathedral who were targeted by Dean Waddington. Dean Waddington was a governor at Chetham's from September 1984 until September 1993. The school is currently the subject of an investigation by Greater Manchester Police into allegations of abuse. Operation Kiso focuses on both Chetham's and the Royal Northern College of Music, and is currently investigating 39 individuals. 

Last Friday, Bishop McCulloch said that he had been "shocked and saddened" to learn of the allegations made by Mr Ward's family. He had asked his chaplain to contact the child-protection officer for the diocese, and had also reported the matter to Lord Hope, who had asked the child-protection officer to contact him.

Bishop McCulloch said on Friday: "The child-protection officer, having been told by the members of the family who had made the allegations that the alleged victim did not wish the matter to be reported to the police, urged them very strongly to do so. In responding to and reporting this tragic alleged abuse, I believe that I and the child-protection officer followed correctly the then current 1999 guidelines laid down by the Church of England."

On Thursday of last week, Lord Hope said: "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."

Throughout his time as Bishop and Archbishop, he had "always adhered to the statutory practices of the Church of England concerning safeguarding", which, at the time, stated that there was "no automatic legal obligation on the Church to refer allegations by adults to the police or social services".


Lord Hope said: "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."

Greater Manchester Police was not made aware of the allegations until last year, when Mr Ward made a report to officers. He has begun legal action against the diocese of Manchester.

A statement from the diocese of Manchester said that it was "working co-operatively with the parties concerned". A statement from Manchester Cathedral said: "We are shocked and saddened by the nature of these allegations relating to events in the early 1980s. 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 specifically with children."





Question of the week:  Should every allegation of abuse be referred to the police? 

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