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Litany of failure

By Amanda Gearing - posted Wednesday, 5 November 2014


Over the five years that pedophile priest Robert Waddington was inviting victims from Manchester to his retirement home in York, the Archbishop of York David Hope was assuring other victims in Australia that Waddington's health was 'very precarious indeed'.

Waddington himself described his home in retirement in letters as "The Waverley Hotel" and wrote that the house was 'in full swing' in 1997 and 'overfull with visitors'.

In an exhaustive investigation into allegations against Waddington, Judge Sally Cahill has reported that from 1956 until 2013, almost 20 people including several of Waddington's victims, reported allegations to church officials in Australia and Britain.

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Over those years no church official or cleric reported to police in Britain.

Judge Cahill's report on her 'Inquiry into the Church of England's response to child abuse allegations' has not been released publicly but has been circulated to Waddington's victims and church officials in Australia and Britain.

The Report makes clear that if anyone in the Church of England was equipped to detect the crimes alleged against at least nine children and one adult over more than five decades by the former Dean of Manchester Robert Waddington, the Archbishop of York David Hope, was arguably in the best position to do so.

Archbishop Hope, now Lord Hope of Thornes, presided over the writing of the church's child protection policy "Protecting All God's Children" and had contributed to the earlier policy "Children First".

Yet when allegations were made against Waddington in 1999, 2003 and 2004, Archbishop Hope breached child protection policies 18 times, the Report found.

In 1999, Archbishop Hope breached the child protection policy by interviewing an alleged offender and failing to realise this could contaminate evidence, failing to make a record of his conversations, failing to consider the current risk to children and failing to consider suspending Waddington's permission to conduct church services.

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After the interview, Archbishop Hope wrote to the Bishop of North Queensland telling him 'this man has recently undergone surgery and post-surgical chemo and radiotherapy for cancer in the throat which has left him severely debilitated'.

His letter persuaded the Australian complainant to drop his civil action but he wrote back that if Waddington had been a younger man in better health "I would have brought him to justice even if it had taken me the rest of my life to do so."

Once the civil action was dropped, Archbishop Hope wrote to Waddington to let him know and assured him of his 'continuing good wishes and prayers'.

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About the Author

Dr Amanda Gearing graduated with a Masters' Degree from QUT in 2012 and a PhD in Global investigative journalism in 2016. Amanda was The Courier-Mail's reporter in Toowoomba for ten years until 2007 and received several awards for her work including Best news Report (All Media) in 2002. She has written in Australia and the UK for national and state newspapers and has produced documentaries for ABC Radio National. In 2012 she won a Walkley Award for Best radio documentary for The day that changed Grantham. She also won a Clarion Award for her radio documentary A living sacrifice in 2013. Her non-fiction book The Torrent was published in 2012 and an updated edition will be published in February 2017.

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