The Church of England is facing criticism after a priest committed suicide following false child abuse allegations made against him.
After more than 12 months of being investigated, Father Alan Griffin took his own life in November last year, despite the allegations never being explained to him.
The investigation was being conducted by Fr Griffin’s former Church of England diocese and his current Roman Catholic diocese, following his conversion.
Following an inquest into Fr Griffin’s death, Coroner Mary Hassell wrote a Prevention of Future Deaths report which she addressed to the Archbishop of Canterbury.
According to the report, the Church of England had shared a short written summary of allegations with the Roman Catholic diocese that contained “inaccuracies” and failed to mention Fr Griffin’s earlier suicide attempt “on learning of his HIV status”.
The report goes on to say that “nobody took responsibility for steering the direction of the process from start to finish” and that there was a lack of “coherent, reasoned evidence-based decisions that made sense”.
Ms Hassell wrote: “Fr Griffin did not abuse children. He did not have sex with young people under the age of 18. He did not visit prostitutes. He did not endanger the lives of others by having sex with people whilst an HIV risk…There was no evidence he did any of these things.”
The report also highlights the lack of effort by the Church of England to learn from its mistakes. Ms Hassell wrote: “It is often the case that organisations have already themselves recognised their errors and have undertaken meaningful attempts at improvement by the time of the inquest. This was not the case here."
A Lambeth Palace spokesperson told the Premier: "This is a highly distressing case and our deepest sympathies and prayers are with the family and friends of Fr Alan Griffin. The archbishop has received a copy of the coroner's report and the matter will be taken extremely seriously. Appropriate discussion and investigation will now take place. Lambeth Palace will be in contact with the relevant other bodies, especially the Diocese of London.”