THERE had been no question of Bishop David Urquhart handling safeguarding in his new post as Bishop to the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, Lambeth Palace clarified on Friday.
The Palace was responding to a Church Times story in which abuse survivors expressed concern at the recent appointment of Bishop Urquhart to the post, which has previously held significant safeguarding responsibility (News, 9 March). Bishop Urquhart has twice been criticised for his handling of safeguarding cases in past lessons-learnt reviews.
A recently published review of safeguarding at Lambeth Palace by the Social Care Institute of Excellence (SCIE) made several references to the safeguarding responsibilities of the Bishop to the Archbishops of Canterbury and York. This had been correct at the time of the review in autumn 2022, Lambeth Palace says, but the job description has since been changed to remove this responsibility.
The clarification from Lambeth Palace states: “The role of the Bishop to the Archbishops of Canterbury and York (BACY) was reviewed at the time Bishop Emma Ineson was appointed to the see of Kensington. Both with her and with her predecessor, Bishop Tim Thornton, safeguarding work on cases which came to Lambeth Palace always, and quite rightly, took priority and thus there was less time for other areas.
“In addition, it was clear that there could be a conflict of interest if the BACY handled the task, as there was a risk of ‘marking our own homework’, as IICSA [the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse] put it.
“Consequently, in the autumn of 2022 it was decided that the new BACY should not address safeguarding. Capacity at Lambeth Palace has been increased by augmenting the time of the Safeguarding Manager, who is now permanent and full-time, and ensuring that all safeguarding matters went to her under the responsibility of the Chief of Staff.
“The SCIE report dated 30 January, contained an audit carried out during 2022 which described the safeguarding system accurately at the time the audit was done, but did not take account of the changes made.”
It concludes: “There was never a question of Bishop David Urquhart or anyone else appointed as BACY overseeing safeguarding. The situation was a carefully planned follow-up to address the concerns described above, to avoid any conflicts of interest and to increase scrutiny.”