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The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse
UK News

Church in the dock at abuse inquiry

The one-hour preliminary hearing, which is being held at the Royal Courts of Justice in central London from 10:30am, will also discuss a timetable setting out its next steps.

The probe, which includes in its scope the Church of England and the Church in Wales, forms part of a wider independent inquiry into sex abuse within institutions being chaired by Honourable Dame Lowell Goddard (pictured).

The Roman Catholic Church, Lambeth Council and residential institutions arranged or provided by Rochdale Borough Council also face scrutiny under the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA).

Launched last year, Dame Goddard's Inquiry is accessing the appropriateness of safeguarding and child protection within the Anglican Church, as well as the adequacy of reviews by the denomination into how allegations of abuse were handled.

Justin Humphreys from the Churches Child Protection Advisory Service, an independent Christian safeguarding charity, spoke with Premier ahead of Wednesday's hearing.

He said: "The Anglican Church has invested a huge amount of money into making sure that this whole process can be managed appropriately.

"What we know so far is that they have a team of more than 20 individuals who are reviewing, literally, a mountain of information to be submitted to the inquiry.

"They have acknowledged themselves the onerous task that it is to respond to the Inquiry in relation to all their requests but has stated a commitment to do so.

"In fact, it was the Anglican Church that put themselves up amongst the first to be looked at; there are good signs but there is an awful long way to go."

In particular, the IICSA will investigate multiple allegations of sexual abuse within the Diocese of Chichester.

It will examine whether senior church figures tried to interfere in the criminal justice process involving former Bishop of Lewes, Peter Ball, who was accused of child sexual offences.

Ball was sentenced to 32 months in prison in October 2015 from indecent assault after admitting abusing young men between 1977 and 1992.

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