The Archbishop of Canterbury Banned Abuse Victim from Cathedral Grounds

By Gabriella Swerling
The Telegraph
July 11, 2019

The Most Rev Justin Welby

The Archbishop of Canterbury banned a “vulnerable” abuse victim from cathedral grounds after treating his case with “casual indifference”, an independent inquiry heard.

Details of the incident emerged for the first time today and occurred in 2011 when the Most Rev Justin Welby was Dean of Liverpool Cathedral.

The man had alleged he was sexually abused by an unidentified offender who was linked to the Cathedral.

However after alleging that Archbishop Welby had dismissed his claims of abuse, the man appeared outside the Cathedral “angry and upset” before he swore at staff and “threatened security with violence”. As a result, he was banned from the grounds.

Giving evidence to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), the Archbishop admitted “there were a number of things I got wrong on this” in relation to the encounter.

This came as he backed a “mandatory reporting” law for the first time and said that he was “utterly horrified” by historic failures to protect victims from abuse within the Church of England.

Mandatory reporting would require people who work with children, including priests, to face punishment if they fail to pass suspicions of child abuse on to statutory authorities.

Yesterday the IICSA was shown an email exchange dated July 6, 2011 between Archbishop Welby - while he was still a Dean - and the alleged unidentified victim.

The man wrote: “I am sure there is someone in the country who is interested in the fact that a member of your staff is running around trying to ‘befriend’ and ‘help’ vulnerable men of the community, when in actuality his real motives are somewhat different.

“It angers and saddens me that your own attitude seems to be one of casual indifference…”

Later that day, he sent a second email to his alleged abuser, copying in the former Dean, saying that the “sexual advances towards myself in my own home have managed to slip under the radar” before adding “a few points of advice concerning how you might wish to conduct yourself on future pastoral visits”.

These include: “When sitting in close proximity, avoid trailing your index finger up and down his shoulder”, “try and resist the urge to feel his bottom”, “[avoid] trying to steer the conversation towards matters of sexual experience and encounters”.

The hearing was shown a further email on the same day from the Archbishop to the man in which he banned him from the Cathedral grounds.

He said that the accounts of the alleged perpetrator and the man were “totally different” and therefore no conclusion could be drawn regarding who to believe.

He added that the man’s calls to his office were “abusive and threatening” and included “the completely unprovoked use of foul language” directed at himself and his staff.

He continued: “Accordingly, I am hereby informing you that you are banned from entering the Cathedral or the precincts of the Cathedral until further notice on the grounds of abusive and threatening behaviour.

“Should you do so, you will be removed. This ban can be lifted by a full and unconditional apology from you to the staff member concerned and by proper undertaking as to future behaviour.”

As he was questioned before the panel, Archbishop Welby told the Inquiry that the man had reported the allegations to him in writing, but added that there had also “been a difficult meeting where he’d come to the cathedral”.

He said that he should have recognised the “very complicated incident” and that the alleged perpetrator should have been suspended and never have been allowed connections links with the Cathedral.

However, he stood by his ban and said that “people were very frightened by [the man]”.

“I suspect I judged it as a disciplinary matter not a safeguarding matter…. I think at the time I would have seen safeguarding as being around minors and would have been less conscious of vulnerable adults, which was a serious mistake, I think, and certainly not one I would commit now,” he said.

Asked by Fiona Scolding QC, counsel to the Inquiry, whether the man was “possibly justifiably angry because of the sexual nature” of the allegations, the Archbishop replied that the security officers said there was “an immediate and serious risk of physical harm” to junior members of staff and “that had to be dealt with seriously”.

“Even if that [allegation] was true, it does not justify attacking a member of staff. So that was the reason that the ban [...] if he’d made that apology to them, we would immediately have lifted the ban.”

The Most Rev Welby also denied that he showed “casual indifference” regarding the alleged victim’s case, adding: “Even if i had been right to treat it as disciplinary rather than safeguarding, which I wasn’t, I would never do that. I’m not casual about things like that. I think they are immensely serious.”








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