"SERIOUS concerns" were voiced this week about the inquiry into
the handling of abuse allegations - an inquiry that led to the
resignation of the Rt Revd Lord Hope of Thornes after 50 years of
Lord Hope, a former Archbishop of York, announced his
resignation as an honorary assistant bishop in the diocese of West
Yorkshire & the Dales on Thursday, in the light of the Cahill
report, which was highly critical of his response to allegations
against a former Dean of Manchester, the late Robert Waddington (News, 24
On Wednesday, the Chancellor of the diocese of Bristol, the Revd
and Worshipful Justin Gau, said that he had developed "serious
concerns" about the process of the inquiry after his advice was
sought by Lord Hope in its early stages.
"These concerns included the fact that Lord Hope was encouraged
not to instruct lawyers to represent him, and being cross-examined
on documents that had not, contrary to assurances made to him, ever
been disclosed before the hearing.
"This resulted in Lord Hope making complaints about the
apparently unfair behaviour of the judge, the secretary to the
panel, and counsel to the inquiry, during the inquiry."
Chancellor Gau represented Lord Hope for the remainder of the
At this point, there were, the Chancellor said, "problems trying
to ascertain the rules, if any, for the inquiry. Assurances given
to Lord Hope about the voluntary nature of his attendance appeared
to be withdrawn by the panel, in effect forcing his return to give
evidence before them.
"Matters reached a head when unfounded allegations made by the
secretary to the inquiry of both my and Lord Hope's dishonesty lead
to me, upon advice from the Bar Standards Board, withdrawing from
the case very shortly before Lord Hope returned to give further
evidence to the panel."
A spokeswoman for Dr Sentamu said on Tuesday: "It is not for the
Archbishop of York to comment on the process of the independent
inquiry." His priority was the consideration of the inquiry's
recommendations, she said.
The inquiry was led by Sally Cahill QC. It concluded that Lord
Hope was guilty of "cumulative" failings that arose from his
failure to follow the Church's safeguarding policies.
This meant that "opportunities were missed for an investigation
which may have led to a prosecu- tion during Robert Waddington's
lifetime". He had failed to establish whether, at the time of the
allegations, children were still at risk.
On publication of the inquiry report, Lord Hope argued 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" (
News, 31 October).
He "genuinely believed that any complaints were being adequately
dealt with by the respective dioceses in which they were alleged to
have happened". He expressed regret, however, that he and others
had not been "more proactive" in helping one of the survivors.
Lord Hope announced on Thursday of last week that, "after much
prayerful and considered thought", he had submitted his
Dr Sentamu 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.'"
Reflecting on the inquiry process on Wednesday, Chancellor Gau
said: "If this is the treatment that a member of the House of Lords
and a former Primate is offered, then one shudders to think what
would happen to an ordinary clerk in Holy Orders.
"Were I to be approached by any priest to advise on dealing with
a similar inquiry in the future, I would have little hesitation in
advising them not to co-operate."
It was, he suggested, a "profound irony" that an inquiry "set up
to deal with perceived failings in the way the Church went about
its processes" had been "carried out in such a manner as to
undermine its own credibility in the eyes of an important