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Former Archbishop denies abuse cover up

A former Archbishop of York is denying claims he covered up allegations of clerical child abuse.

An investigation by the Times and the Australian newspapers claims Lord Hope was told about the accusations made about the Very Revd Robert Waddington in 1999 and 2003.

Waddington, who died of throat cancer in 2007, was stripped of his right to conduct church services but Lord Hope did not report concerns to police or child protection agencies.

Lord Hope denies the allegations he covered it up saying he followed Church child protection procedures that were in place at the time which did not oblige him to report the case to authorties.

Waddington, a former Dean of Manchester Cathedral, has been linked to two cases.

Eli Ward says from the age of eleven, Waddington started a lengthy grooming process which saw him eventually sharing a bed and performing sexual acts.

He'd met the clergyman whilst singing in the Cathedral choir in the 1980s.

Years before, Waddington is accused of sexual abuse whilst he was head teacher at a school in Queensland, Australia.

Bim Atkinson claims he was petrified of him while studying at the St Barnabas Anglican boarding school and often ended up in his bedroom.

The two men have waived their right to anonymity to encourage others to come forward.

Lord Hope claims he always acted in line with Church child protection procedures.

He said:

"I strenuously deny (and am obviously disappointed at) the suggestion that myself or my team at the time would have acted negligently in this or any other safeguarding matter.

"Under the Church of England's 1999 Policy on Child Protection which was in effect at the time (but which has subsequently been reviewed) Paragraph 31 states: 'There is no automatic legal obligation on the Church to refer allegations by adults to the police or social services. However it is essential to consider whether children may still be at risk from the abuser or alleged abuser and, if so, to ensure that appropriate steps are taken to safeguard them, and these will involve reporting the matter to the social services or the police'.

"In considering whether children would be at risk from Robert Waddington I decided under these guidelines that this would not be the case given his serious ill health following cancer surgery.

"The following year I revoked Robert Waddington's permission to officiate. He died two years later."

Simon Bass is the Chief Executive of the Churches Child Protection Advisory Service.

He told Premier's Des Busteed on News Hour although Lord Hope may have acted within the rules - he could have done more.

The Church of England has since changed procedures meaning there is a requirement to report cases of abuse.

The Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler, Chair of the Churches National Safeguarding Committee, has responded to the investigation.

He said:

"When any church related abuse or allegation of abuse comes to light our first concern is always for the victim: Both that they are being supported and with an acknowledgement that the effects of abuse can be lifelong.

"As a Church we will always apologise for past systems that let down the vulnerable and offer support to anyone whose life has been affected.

"Today we have robust safeguarding policies in place and although we can never be complacent, we remain committed to ensuring that the Church is a safe place for all.

"We would encourage anyone who has any safeguarding concerns within a Church context to come forward with the assurance they will be listened to."

The Bishop of Manchester at the time of the Eli Ward case, Rt Revd Nigel McCulloch, has also been accused of a cover up but says he acted properly and handled the case correctly.

Mr Ward, however, is said to be taking legal action against the Diocese of Manchester.

In a statement the diocese said:

"We are aware of the current allegations of abuse from the past against a former Dean of Manchester Cathedral and we are working cooperatively with the parties concerned.

"Manchester Diocese places the highest priority on all child safeguarding issues.

"We have a comprehensive child protection policy which operates across all our churches and schools.

"This involves enhanced CRB checks on all our clergy and those working closely with children and vulnerable adults. We encourage all who have suffered abuse to report it to the police."

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