Lambeth Palace launches diocese child protection inquiry

An inquiry into child protection policies in the Diocese of Chichester in West Sussex has been set up by the Archbishop of Canterbury's office.

Lambeth Palace said it would ensure recommendations of the report by Baroness Butler-Sloss were implemented.

She was appointed by the Church of England to examine how senior clergy dealt with historical claims of abuse.

Her report last May found there had been "a lack of understanding of the seriousness of historic child abuse".

The report looked into the cases of Roy Cotton and Colin Pritchard, who abused children in the 1970s and 1980s.

Pritchard served as the vicar of St Barnabas, Bexhill, until 2007, when he was arrested over sex abuse claims. In 2008 he pleaded guilty to sexually abusing two boys and was jailed for five years.

Cotton was ordained in 1966, despite having a conviction for indecently assaulting a choirboy in the 1950s, and went on to abuse at least 10 boys from Eastbourne.

Baroness Butler-Sloss's report found senior clergy, including bishops, were slow to act on information available to them and to assess the potential risk to children in the diocese.

'Highest possible standards'

Dr Rowan Williams has appointed Bishop John Gladwin and Chancellor Rupert Bursell QC to carry out the inquiry.

They are due to present a preliminary report to Dr Williams in February.

In a statement, Lambeth Palace said it would "advise the Archbishop on any steps that need to be taken to ensure the highest possible standards of safeguarding in the diocese.

"This will involve examining current child protection arrangements as well as making recommendations for the future."

Lambeth Palace said the inquiry had the backing of the Bishop of Chichester, the Rt Revd Dr John Hind.

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