|Lord David Hope|
formerly the Archbishop of York
Lord David Hope of Thornes, formerly the Archbishop of York, was slammed by the church-ordered inquiry, which found that he kept allegations against Robert Waddington secret from police and that his biased internal investigation into pedophile clergyman had put more children at risk.
Lord Hope, then the second-highest-ranking official in the Church of England, was also accused of compromising potential police investigations in both countries and misleading Queensland victim Bim Atkinson into dropping his fight against the church.
Victims of Waddington are calling for Lord Hope, who was knighted for his services to the Queen, to be stripped of his life peerage in the House of Lords.
Headed by English judge Sally Cahill, the 12-month inquiry was ordered last year after a joint investigation by The Australian and London’s The Times exposed a high-level cover-up into the 1999 and 2003 allegations into the late reverend Waddington.
The Cambridge-educated Waddington was principal of a Anglican boarding school in far north Queensland for almost a decade until 1970, before returning to England where he rose to become the head of education for the church in Britain and later dean of Manchester. The newspaper investigation revealed that at least six boys and a young clergyman were sexually abused and beaten by Waddington in Britain and Australia.
The reforms are also expected to be considered by Australian church officials, as they face an ongoing investigation into the case by the federal royal commission into child abuse.
Justice Cahill was damning of Lord Hope’s handling of the 2003 complaints of Waddington’s child abuse of a choirboy in Manchester, four years after Mr Atkinson had levelled similar allegations about his former principal at St Barnabas boarding school in Ravenshoe, in Queensland.
ARCHIVE: Church’s wall of silence
Police were not alerted and the victims were never told of the existence of the other allegations as their claims were dismissed by church officials.
Justice Cahill said Lord Hope “failed to take any action at all’’ in 2003 after interviewing the then semi-retired Waddington, who was being treated for throat cancer, and died eight years later.
She said that Lord Hope made no record of his conversations with Waddington, who was serving as a part-time parish priest, and had readily accepted his denials to the abuse.
“Throughout the whole episode, Lord Hope made no record at all of any conversations he had, any actions he took, any information he was given, or of his decision-making process.’’
Justice Cahill said Lord Hope had also sent documents detailing the allegations to Waddington before he interviewed him.
“By sending the statement to Robert Waddington it meant that Robert Waddington had a full opportunity to rehearse his answers,” she said. “Had the police in either Australia or this country decided to take action, then their investigations could have been compromised.’’
At the time, Queensland police were investigating the allegations by Mr Atkinson and another St Barnabas student and were considering extraditing Waddington but dropped the case because of a lack of corroborating evidence.
Yesterday, the present Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, said child abusers should no longer be protected from justice by the confidentiality of the Confessional.
Dr Sentamu said he had pressed the church to undertake legal and theological study on the secrecy of Confession. Under canon law priests are forbidden from disclosing what is said to them in the Confessional.
But the Archbishop said: “Jesus says no-one is more important than children and I would rather stick with Jesus.’’
Mr Atkinson, who first made allegations about his abuse in 1999 and then unsuccessfully asked church officials to investigate Waddington in 2005, said last night he was “over the moon’’ about the inquiry’s findings.
He was repeatedly beaten and raped by Waddington between 1964 and 1968 while a boarder.
“It vindicates everything I have been saying about this bloke after years of being dismissed, ignored and lied to by the church,’’ he said from his home in Ravenshoe.
“Waddington destroyed my life, I went from top of the class to the bottom and have never been able to have a long-term relationship.’’
English victim Eli Ward said last night that Lord Hope did not deserve to sit in the House of Lords. “He is hardly a proper and moral man, as he so widely preached others to be,’’ he said.
“He should either stand down or, more still, be the first to have his peerage removed.’’
North Queensland bishop Bill Ray said he would not comment until he had received the inquiry report. Bishop Ray referred the case to the federal royal commission into child abuse last year after confirming that most of the St Barnabas school files, including enrolment and staff lists, were missing. Hmmm. That happens in Australia, too. Funny how files disappear on their own.