A MAN who was abused as a choirboy, Phil Johnson, has added his
voice to the criticism of Baroness Butler-Sloss, who resigned on
Monday from chairing the Government's inquiry into historical
allegations of child-abuse in institutions.
Mr Johnson met Lady Butler-Sloss at the House of Lords in 2011,
after she had been appointed by the diocese of Chichester to review
its handling of abuse allegations. That review centred on abuse
perpetrated by two priests: Roy Cotton and Colin Pritchard. Mr
Cotton died in 2006, and Mr Pritchard was jailed for five years in
2008 (News, 1
On Friday, Mr Johnson told the BBC that he had also made
allegations about a former Bishop of Lewes, the Rt Revd Peter Ball.
He alleged that Lady Butler-Sloss had told him that, if she
included the Bishop's name in her report, it would distract from
the more serious abuse by the two priests. But he also stated that
she "didn't want to generate any excessive negative publicity for
the Church. . . She expressed that by saying that 'the press would
love a bishop', and she didn't want to give the press that
He said: "She told me that she cared very much about the Church,
and seemed to be wanting to protect the Church's image."
He accepts that she did pass on his allegations about Bishop
Lady Butler-Sloss, a retired judge, withdrawing from the
inquiry, said that, in light of criticism from abuse survivors, she
was "not the right person" to chair it. Her brother, Sir Michael
Havers, was Attorney General in the 1980s, when many of the
allegations of abuse took place. He has been accused of failing to
act on allegations made to him at the time.
Lady Butler-Sloss said that she "did not sufficiently consider"
the effect of her family links when accepting the task of chairing
the inquiry into sexual abuse in institutions, including the
The Home Secretary, Theresa May, told the Home Affairs Select
Committee on Monday that she still believed that Lady Butler-Sloss
had been the "right person for the job. . . I do not regret the
decision I made. I continue to believe that Elizabeth Butler-Sloss
would have done an excellent job as chair of this inquiry."
Lady Butler-Sloss told the BBC on Monday: "Throughout many years
of public service, I have always striven to be fair and
compassionate, mindful of the very real suffering of those who have
been victims of crime or other injustice. I have never put the
reputation of any institution, including the Church of England,
above the pursuit of justice for victims."
Bishop Ball was charged with indecent assault and misconduct in
public office earlier this year (News, 28
March). He was unable to answer the charges in court in April,
owing to ill-health (News, 17 April).
He was summonsed this week to answer two fresh allegations of
indecent assault on a man aged over 16 between 1990 and 1991 in
Berwick, and on a boy aged under 16 between 1984 and 1985 in
He is also due to appear at a Crown Court for a plea- and
case-management hearing on 1 August in relation to the March
On Friday, Mr Johnson was present with other abuse survivors at
the General Synod, where members discussed draft legislation to
improve safeguarding. Under the legislation, convicted
sex-offenders, or those on a safeguarding barred list, will not be
allowed to be churchwardens, Readers, or PCC members.
Bishops will be able to insist that a priest deemed to present a
possible safeguarding risk undergoes a risk assessment. Incumbents
and PCCs will have a duty to have due regard to the Bishops'
safeguarding policies. Clergy and Readers will be obliged to attend
All diocesan bishops will have to appoint a safeguarding adviser
and ensure that national standards are met. Without permission to
officiate from a diocesan bishop, clerics will not be allowed to
lead, or be robed at, services. It will also be possible for
allegations of sexual misconduct against a child or vulnerable
adult to be made more than one year after the abuse is alleged to
have taken place.
The Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler, who chairs the
Churches National Safeguarding Committee, said: "We have made far
too many mistakes in the past in relation to safeguarding. . . We
must not be complacent."
Abuse survivors hosted a fringe event on Friday evening. At a
press conference afterwards, Mr Johnson was critical of the Church:
"Where survivors go through the legal system and get compensation,
the Church seems to think its responsibility ends there. If someone
loses a leg in an accident and they are compensated for the loss of
their leg, that does not mean they have got their leg back. They
have to live with that.
"With the new inquiry coming up, there are going to be lot more
people coming forward. We need funded provision in place to support
those survivors. Too often, the Church judges whether you are
The National Crime Agency announced on Wednesday that it had
arrested 660 suspected paedophiles, after a six-month investigation
into the viewing of child-abuse images online. Those arrested
included doctors, teachers, Scout leaders, care workers and former