Bishops take aim at ‘unjust’ handling of abuse claims

Times of London

August 12, 2020

By Andrew Brown

The Church of England has been reported to the Charity Commission for its “incompetent and unjust” handling of investigations into senior figures.

Lord Carlile of Berriew, QC, and a serving bishop are among dozens of signatories to a letter accusing the church of operating a secretive and unfair disciplinary system.

Four of the past five archbishops of Canterbury and York had been the subjects of formal complaints about their alleged failures to act against clergy accused of sexual abuse.

Lord Carey of Clifton, who was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1991 to 2002, has been prevented from performing his religious duties while the church’s national safeguarding team investigates his past conduct.

The Bishop of Lincoln, the Right Rev Christopher Lowson, has been suspended for more than a year. He has been accused of failing to respond “appropriately” to safeguarding allegations. He has said that he is bewildered by the accusations. The Archbishop of York, the Most Rev Stephen Cottrell, had apologised for failing to respond correctly when he was told about domestic violence by one of his priests when he was Bishop of Reading.

The church has “the most incompetent and unjust form of investigation I have ever seen”, Lord Carlile said.

He is one of the signatories to a letter demanding that the Charity Commission take action. “They just don’t understand how the rule of law operates”, he said.

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