IN 1999, after receiving allegations of sexual abuse by a priest
in his province, Lord Hope, then Archbishop of York, wrote a letter
of apology, aware that "this whole business will have caused you
deep disquiet and distress and a considerable degree of sadness and
The letter was sent not to the survivor, but to the abusive
priest. On Wednesday, it was published as part of a strongly
critical report on the Church's response to allegations of abuse
against the priest, the former Dean of Manchester, the late Robert
Waddington. It details how the failure to implement policies meant
that victims were denied an opportunity to see their abuser brought
The report is the result of an inquiry commissioned last year by
the present Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu (News, 17 May 2013),
after a joint investigation by The Times in London and
The Australian newspaper in Sydney had revealed
allegations against Waddington dating back decades.
The inquiry, led by Sally Cahill QC, concludes: "Irrespective of
the policies in force, there was a systemic failure: appropriate
referrals would not have taken place . . . because the
decision-making was in the hands of those not qualified or
sufficiently experienced in child protection to make those
On Wednesday, Dr Sentamu, who has visited all the victims living
in the UK, said he was "deeply ashamed that the Church was not
vigilant enough". There was a need for "deep repentance".
Lord Hope first received allegations against Waddington from the
Bishop of North Queensland in 1999. A young man, later named as Bim
Atkinson, had alleged that, while headmaster of St Barnabas School
in Queensland, Waddington had sexually abused him during the
Instead of following the Church's policy, which he had recently
endorsed, and informing the safeguarding adviser, Lord Hope
approached Waddington himself. After meeting the accused, he told
the Australian bishop that Waddington believed that his actions had
been "misinterpreted", but wished to offer the complainant an
Lord Hope added that Dean Waddington, then 72, was "severely
debilitated" as a result of cancer. In response, Mr Atkinson wrote:
"My main concern was that he was stopped from causing any more
unfortunate victims from suffering the lifetime of confused hurt
that I have suffered. It would seem that this is the case due to
his throat cancer and ill health.
"I can now finalise my search for justice by showing a little
compassion at this time. . . I would like to point out, however,
that, had this been a younger man and in better health, I would
have brought him to justice even if it had taken the rest of my
life to do so. It should be acknowledged that this man is a
criminal who caused the destruction of many young men's lives."
On learning of this response from Mr Atkinson, Lord Hope wrote
to Waddington apologising for having had to "raise the matter",
which must have caused him "deep disquiet and distress".
Although Lord Hope told the Bishop of North Queensland that
Waddington had a "hermit-like existence" and that there was "no
likelihood" that he could cause harm to young people, Waddington
lived on another seven years, finally dying in 2007. The Cahill
inquiry concludes that he "led an active and full life", including
holidays to Toulouse, and visits from teenage boys: "If he was a
risk to children, this risk continued after 1999" - although the
inquiry did not find evidence that Waddington had perpetrated abuse
Further allegations were made against Waddington in 2003, when
two sisters of Eli Ward contacted the diocese of Manchester,
reporting that their brother had disclosed to them that Wadding-
ton had sexually abused him between the ages of 11 and 13, when he
was a chorister at Manchester Cathedral.
The response of the two child-protection advisers, Graham Cooper
and Alan Roberts, was that "little could be done", unless the abuse
was officially reported by the victim. This was despite the fact
that diocesan guidance, written in part by Mr Roberts, stated that
"in a case of strong suspicion or clear allegation", the police
should be contacted.
The then Bishop of Manchester, the Rt Revd Nigel McCulloch, was
informed, and he in turn informed Lord Hope, who disclosed the
Australian allegations, though not to Mr Ward and his family. They
learned of them after going to the police in 2012.
Since The Times published the allegations
against Waddington last year, other possible victims have been
identified, among them a head chorister at Manchester, called
Peter, and known as "Tweet". Both his aunt and Eli Ward raised
concerns with the Dean of Carlisle in May 2013, but "Tweet",
orphaned as a teenager, committed suicide in 1989 without making
Lord Hope eventually withdrew Waddington's permission to
officiate in November 2004. This was after he was told by the
Diocese of Brisbane that Mr Atkinson had resurrected his complaint.
He did not inform the Archdiocese about the allegations in
Manchester. He asked Ray Morris, then child-protection adviser for
the Diocese of York, to interview Waddington.
Mr Morris concluded that, "in the absence of any compelling,
independent corroboration of the allegations, it is difficult to
see how they can be effectively taken forward". The matter was then
closed in Australia and Lord Hope wrote again to Waddington,
assuring him of his "continuing support and prayer".
Mr Morris told the inquiry that he was unaware of the
allegations in Manchester. But he had told The
Times last year that he found Waddington "stonewalling . .
. naive and calculating". The inquiry concludes that he failed to
check Dean Waddington's history, consult lawyers or the police, or
consider the implications for child protection in the UK.
Lord Hope told the inquiry that, in his communications with Dean
Waddington, he was "trying to reflect some kind of pastoral care .
. . as well as what you might call the judicial element". The
inquiry concluded: "His concern for the welfare of Robert
Waddington seems to have been paramount in his response to these
The inquiry accepts that some of the results of Lord Hope's
failure to follow policy are "speculative", but concludes that
"what is not speculative is that, because of the actions he took,
and his inaction on other occasions, opportunities were missed for
an investigation which may have led to a prosecution during Robert
On Wednesday, Lord Hope said that the allegations reported to
him had been "unspecific" from "unnamed sources who had indicated
their unwillingness at that stage to go to the police". It was a
"great regret" to him that he had not been "more proactive" in
helping Mr Ward.
He said: "If either of the two persons concerned feel, in the
light of this report, they have been denied the justice they
deserve, then, on behalf of the Church, I offer my personal and
profound apology. I genuinely believed that any complaints were
being adequately dealt with by the respective dioceses in which
they were alleged to have happened."
On Wednesday, Dr Sentamu said that some of the eight
recommendations made by the inquiry were already being implemented.
The Archbishops' Council is to review whether disclosures of abuse
made in during confession should enjoy confidentiality.
On Thursday, Lord Hope announced that he had resigned as
an honorary assistant bishop in the diocese of West Yorkshire &
the Dales. He had taken the decision "after much prayerful and
considered thought", he said. "This ends my nearly 50 years of
formal ministry in the Church of England, which I have always
sought to serve with dedication. I will certainly continue to pray
for the important ongoing work with survivors."
Dr Sentamu, who received Lord Hope's resignation at the
beginning of the week, said that he was "deeply saddened" by it.
Lord Hope had "served the Church of England with joyfulness,
commitment, honesty, and holiness. I personally thank him for his
leadership as a priest, principal of a theological college, bishop,
and Archbishop of the Province of York; and, above all, as a dear
brother in Christ."
He concluded: "As the old saying goes, 'To err is human;
to forgive is divine.'"
At the request of some of those interviewed, the Cahill
report is available in hard copy only, from Bishopthorpe Palace in
York and Church House Bookshop, Westminster (020 7799 4064;
Scrutiny: the Lord Mayor of
London, Alderman Fiona Woolf, is under growing pressure
to resign the chair of the national independent inquiry into
historical child-sexual abuse.
Alderman Woolf appeared before the Home
Affairs Select Committee on Tuesday, where she was questioned
about her connections to Lord Brittan, who was Home Secretary
during an alleged cover-up of sex abuse.
A survivor of abuse has launched a legal
challenge to the appointment of Alderman Woolf, seen by the BBC. It
claims that she is not impartial, has no relevant expertise, and
may not have time to discharge her duties.
A new website for the inquiry lists the terms
of reference and all eight members of the panel. On Wednesday, a
spokesperson for the Prime Minister said that he had "full
confidence" in Woolf.