Williams keeps control of abuse-claims diocese

The Archbishop of Canterbury is to continue supervising protection of children and vulnerable adults in the Diocese of Chichester after investigators concluded that safeguarding had fallen “woefully short”.

Dr Rowan Williams, who set up the inquiry into child protection, said the interim report “confirms that there have been many and long-standing failures in implementing a robust and credible safeguarding policy in the Diocese of Chichester”.

Dr Williams appointed Bishop John Gladwin and Chancellor Rupert Bursell QC as commissaries to conduct the inquiry in the wake of child abuse scandals – the first such appointments for more than 100 years.

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In May last year, a review found serious failings in the senior clergy after two priests were allowed to continue working despite being accused of serious child abuse.

Colin Pritchard was the vicar of St Barnabas in Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex, until 2007, despite having been first reported to police over sex offences 10 years earlier.

He was later jailed for sexually abusing two young boys.

One of the boys was also abused by Roy Cotton, a parish priest in Brede near Rye, but prosecutors decided there was not enough evidence to charge him before he died in September 2006.

Dr Williams said: “The guidelines laid down by the national Church and the agreed standards of best practice have not been consistently followed and the flaws in safeguarding practice have put children and others at risk.”

The commissaries wrote that the diocese has “an appalling history in these matters”. They said that since their appointment “fresh and disturbing aspects of the diocese’s safeguarding failures keep rising to the surface”.