IICSA Anglican Chichester Inquiry Week 2 summary


Anglican Inquiry

Diocese of Chichester

Notes of week 2 (12th to 16th March 2018)


Wallace Benn

Wallace Benn (WB) was an elderly man wearing a purple shirt and dog collar. He spoke with a soft Scottish accent. His manner was of self-confidence in his belief that he had no responsibility on safeguarding matters.

WB was Bishop of Lewes between 1997 and 2012. His boss was the Bishop of Chichester, Eric Kemp then Bishop John Hind.

He felt he had inherited some poor appointments in terms of clergy in the Diocese of Lewes, being individuals appointed by Bishop Peter Ball, who had been B of Lewes for 17 years.

He complained that he hadn’t been given enough safeguarding training. He had 4 days in 15 years.

If there were safeguarding issues he saw his responsibility as being to report to the Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser or the Bishop of Chichester. He had access to only some Blue files. He said even the DSA procedures drafted by Janet Hind had required her to do the reporting to the police.

On Shirley Hosgood he commented :”I think she had a chip on her shoulder from her previous safeguarding job (Catholic). She and Roger Meekings were overly aggressive saying “We’re the professionals and you’re the amateurs”. She was nit-picking. He gave the example of her criticising his delay in passing on the Nov 2007 blog on to the police until Feb 2008. It is disputed whether that would have helped the police to prosecute Pritchard earlier.

On the issue of him failing to report Cotton’s previous conviction to police or B of Chichester he said “Looking back I could have queried things a bit more but it was Janet Hind’s job and I didn’t have to tell the police and there was fear of litigation from the priest himself… It looked like it wasn’t that serious as it had been dropped by the police…I thought (Cotton) was a villain. There had been a false accusation that had stopped him being ordained. What I did was refer him to my then boss, Eric Kemp…who said @in my opinion he’s alright – give him PTO’…I did tell Nicholas Reade and Janet Hind…I only found out about Cotton’s 1954 conviction in 2001.”

WB denied that when he said “You can’t write off a good guy because of a bad day” it concerned safeguarding.

WB complained bitterly that Roger Meekings had turned speculation into fact. When it was put to WB that he had agreed with a chronology setting out his knowledge of Cotton’s activities which included him knowing about the 1954 conviction in 1998 he said “I was busy at the time and only gave it a cursory look. I corrected it later in  2008. WB maintained he didn’t know about Cotton’s conviction until he saw Cotton’s declaration in 2001. He listed his reasons for this and it is only fair to reproduce them here :-

  • Nicholas Reade mentioned “something” in the past – not a conviction
  • If either of us had known we’d have told Janet Hind
  • The conviction was news to me in 2001
  • Type of services he was allowed to take were consistent with his conviction having been discovered after 2001 (their nature changed after that date).
  • WB had a very unpleasant conversation with Cotton after altering his PTO in 2001.
  • The allegation was mentioned in the staff meeting in 1997. If it had been a conviction I’d have mentioned it.

WB agrees he should have stopped Cotton’s PTO altogether in 2001.

There were numerous inconsistencies in his recollection put to his and the way in which his recollection does not marry up with the evidence of others but WB continued to assert he had done nothing wrong if failing to report Cotton earlier to the police or his Bishop.

On the subject of Colin Pritchard WB was accused of failing to suspend him when in 2007 he knew of his activities. He agrees in hindsight he should have suspended Pritchard.

He feels traduced by the Meekings report which criticises him. On the subject of his threat of legal action he maintains that although he discussed legal action against the diocese if it published the Meekings report he denied threatening proceedings. He maintains any paralysis from the diocese was self-induced.

He said he had inherited a paedophile ring of priests.

By way of comment – a pattern seems to have emerged around WB. He fell out with almost everyone in the Diocese – Janet Hind, Shirley Hosgood, John Hind, Philip Jones, Roer Meekings, E Butler Sloss, and Rupert Bursell.

On the subject of Robert Coles who had been engaged in sexual relations with a young socially inadequate parishioner he admitted knowing and said he thought the police knew about it and in any case it was Janet Hind’s responsibility to report it. He assumed it had been done. WB was unwilling to accept any responsibility.

On Gordon Rideout, despite evidence to the contrary and a letter supporting Rideout and he has “affection for Gordon and concern for his welfare” WB denied he did anything wrong when he asked John Hind not to forward a blemished CRNB check to Shirley Hosgood. He explained it didn’t show anything new and a later return would give the full picture. At this point he called Ian Gibson a liar for giving evidence to the contrary.

Overall he said “I could have done some things better but I was cleared of the CDM s made against me”.

Ivor Frank of the panel in questioning rebutted WB’s assertion that his “standard letter” in response to Cotton’s request for PTO was standard as it had been tailored by WB.

In further response to Mr Frank WB said “Saving my skin wasn’t the predominant issue.”

Rupert Bursell

He was a commissary for the Arch Episcopal Visitation.

Its findings were in summary that :-

  • The Diocese of Chichester was slow to identify abuse taking place.
  • Dysfunction caused mainstream reports of abuse to be side-lined.
  • Safeguarding was not at the forefront of the Diocesan agenda
  • Colin Perkins (new DSA) was doing well but with limited finance.
  • There was a tendency to believe the cleric rather than the abused because the accused was a colleague.
  • The CDM against WB demonstrates the dysfunction.
  • The area scheme could have worked if the personalities had co-operated.
  • Eric Kemp believed in forgiveness.
  • Training for senior clergy was not good.
  • Until the church deals with the past and acknowledges ongoing complaints there can be no reconciliation.
  • Apologies need to be genuine.

On the CDM his concerns are :-

  • It is too cumbersome
  • Individual Bishops shouldn’t participate (due to conflict of interest)
  • The “trivial” threshold should be removed (at present CDMs only go forward if the priest could be removed from office if found proven.

On the confessional he said “It is a considerable problem” and believes there should be an exemption to the seal of the confessional for child abuse crimes.

He commented “The church won’t do this voluntarily so we need legislation for Mandatory Reporting”.

He discussed Spiritual abuse and exorcisms and feels they need more regulation. Good behaviour contracts are unenforceable. Fairness is needed in dealing with posthumous allegations. Provision of Therapy support should be centralised. On the October 2017 guidance he criticised the use of the words “Due regard” as being unclear to non-lawyers.

Professor Julie Macfarlane

Julie Macfarlane is a professor of law at Windsor University, Ontario. She has written books on conflict resolution.

She became an evangelical Christian in the 1970s and was converted by listening to Billy Graham. F12 was a priest in her area and age 16 she was beginning to have doubts about her faith so went to him for spiritual guidance. He told her God would want her to engage in sexual activity with him there and then in his study and believing he was truly being told this by God she did this. It led to him taking her out regularly under the pretext of learning to drive and regularly sexually assaulting her. This turned into stalking and she was finally able to escape his clutches by moving to University.

She wasn’t able to tell anyone about the abuse until her Father died. Then she told her Mum who didn’t appear to react with any distress. The professor found F12 was still a priest in a country abroad and raised a complaint about him. A hearing was set but F12 resigned before it took place and moved to work in a church of a different denomination in the same city.

Professor Macfarlane complained to the police in 2014 after hearing there was another complainant. Throughout she has been unimpressed by the police who seemed to take her complaint begrudgingly.

Professor Macfarlane was so unhappy with how the Defendants in her civil case had tried to resist her case that she wrote an article for the Church Times. This met strong opposition from the police but with a lot of effort it was published.

As part of Professor Macfarlane’s settlement it was agreed that the insurance company EIG would not treat other survivors the same way. She and David Greenwood, her lawyer, set out standards they wanted the insurance company to adhere to which were :-

  • Limitation defence never to be used
  • No use of a defence of consent for under 18s
  • No use of consent for adult abuse by clergy
  • Not to discontinue pastoral support when a civil case starts

Her overall reflections are :-

Adversarial system is totally inappropriate for these cases as it causes trauma by 1) having to hear defence assertions, 2) Unwillingness by defence to talk about settlement, 3) examination by Maden too long and traumatic.

Her view is that an independent redress system like Canada’s residential school process is needed. Australia looks at these cases from the starting point that there are very few false claims.

Overall she believes :-

  • Better measures of compensation to make people feel whole again are needed.
  • The test should be balance of probabilities.
  • There are low false reports so a basic clear and competent investigation only is needed.

Bishop Mark Sowerby

A youthful looking man clean shaven with short grey hair and wearing a purple shirt and dog collar.

Mark Sowerby (MS) is the Bishop of Horsham. He confirmed the area scheme has been revoked. In terms of safeguarding in Chichester the Diocesan Bishop deals with recruitment and departures. The two suffregan Bishops deal with granting PTOs and licencing readers. The principal point of contact with statutory agencies is the DSA Colin Perkins.

MS has found an unwillingness among parishioners to believe allegations. Older people have a lot of deference for clergy. Long tenures in parishes allowed different customs to become the norm. MS has identified a sub culture which accepted sexual abuse of children around Lewes. There are basic patterns involving Anglo-Catholics mainly not married. Most abusers were single and looked out for each other. They were a “tribe”. If threatened they responded badly.

Bishop Martin Warner

Bishop Warner (MW) is a thin man with a bald head and round glasses wearing a black shirt and a dog collar.

He arrived to a situation in Chichester where there was pressure to remove Bishop Wallace Benn. The local authority were requiring his removal from office. Various perpetrators had been convicted during WB’s time in office.

When he arrived he found paralysis. He detected a culture of deference to clergy and a defensiveness. Many people thought Peter Ball had been badly treated. He is trying to give parishes direction. His aims for parishes are Safeguarding, Growth, and Giving. He has visited every parish in the first 18 months.

On the files – the DSA has full access to files now.. He undertook a Visitation to the Cathedral in 2016 and required them to put together an updated safeguarding policy and to defer to the DSA. Chaplains now need a licence from him.

MW doesn’t want to see safeguarding go to an independent body on the basis that he wants Parishes to take responsibility.

MW would like to see a laminated card with the top 10 safeguarding issues rather than a long book. He thinks he should explore what can be done with a website.

MW is opposed to the ordination of women and won’t accept the sacrament from them but he thinks sexism is unacceptable. He thinks there is a danger of missing paedophiles when the church focusses on equating being gay with being a paedophile.

Me doesn’t think Mandatory Reporting is the way to protect children.

On the confessional he wants to keep it in its present form as it enables disclosure and the unburdening of survivors (and possibly abusers, Martin ?).

He wanted to register his sorrow for the abuse and how it was subsequently handled.

On questioning by Alexis Jay he confirmed he would welcome examination by another diocese but does not support entirely external independent oversight.

On questioning by Druscilla Sharpling MW confirmed the church also needs to be alert to domestic abuse in the community.

Overall MW wants to preserve the status quo.

Rowan Williams

Rowan Williams (RW) was Archbishop of Canterbury between 2002 and 2012. Now a master at Magdalen College, Cambridge. He has wiry grey hair and a beard reminiscent of a folk singer, wore glasses and a black shirt and dog collar.

He confirms he knows little of safeguarding and had little involvement.

In answer to a question from David Greenwood he confirmed that despite the abuse allegations emanating from the Catholic Church he mistakenly thought the problem was far smaller in the Anglican church.

On the question of the past cases review he admits a few high profile cases caused him shock and he had to make a visible gesture and a willingness to examine his own back yard. Hence he took part in designing and implementing the Past Cases Review (PCR). He the measurements made in dioceses failed to look at cases where there had been arrests but no further action by police, where the clergy had died or retired, where there were no allegations made by actual complainants and whether there were CRB checks.

The PCR press release read to the effect “We have done a thorough review and are certain that the church has no problem cases”. RW admitted this was “an ambitious statement” (In fact it was entirely misleading). He agreed the PCR was inadequate in three respects :-

  • It failed to do justice to victims
  • The stats produced gave us a clearer bill of health than was justified
  • It looked too much backwards and not to the future.

On the confessional he is in favour of preserving the seal as it allows vulnerable people to use the space. He admits we can’t know how big a problem it is due to the secret nature of the conversations.

On Peter Ball he is sorry he didn’t do enough for victims. He launched the Arch Episcopal Visitation as Wallace Benn’s CDM had not succeeded in removing him. An e mail from Andrew Nunn to George Pitcher at Lambeth was revealed that showed a strategy of “throwing Bishop John Hind to the press as a sacrifice to avoid it getting to the Archbishop” RW denied knowing about the strategy.

There came a point at which the head of Education at Sussex Council wrote a 7 page letter to RW to demand measures in schools run by the Church. RW replied with what Fiona Scolding describes as an “impossibly weedy response” (a 2 paragraph letter thanking the council and assuring them that all was in hand). RW said “What I wanted to say was that Wallace Benn had no contact with children, was not an abuser, was just possibly incompetent and we were trying to negotiate his exit. WB didn’t have the confidence of his colleagues or the wider world. I could have initiated a CDM but that would have been cumbersome. There needs to be something akin to an employment law type measure.”

On peter Ball RW explained that PB was pestering him for rights to officiate and had to repeatedly turn him down. The Northants police investigation was launched and the Mellows report recommended waiting before taking further action until the outcome of the police action. This ended with no action so Kate Wood reviewed the papers and found letters. We contributed to a risk assessment of Ball, and brought the file together (at this point the famous e mail from Chris Smith to RW setting out the plan was quoted “So much has been swept under the carpet for so long that we are in peril of the furniture tumbling over.” The plan was to gather all files on Ball together and be prepared for press intrusion. This took almost 3 years from 2009 to 2012 before the police were involved and RW regrets the delay.

Retired Bishop Nicholas Reade

Nicholas Reade (NR) was a bald man wearing a black shirt and dog collar. He has an incredibly “posh” accent and his mannerisms had an air of caricature. He was confident and self-assured, willing to admit he had not taken safeguarding seriously. He had a strong personality which was almost domineering.

NR was Archdeacon of Lewes 1997-2003. He described himself as “a trouble-shooter”.

On Roy Cotton he told Wallace Benn about the police investigation in to him in Dec 1997. NR personally took no further action until 12 months later when Cotton told him his ordination had been postponed due to earlier trouble (organ loft issue). He didn’t say  there had been a conviction. NR said “It didn’t occur to me to ask (about a conviction) I take priests at their word. The idea of a priest telling lies to a Bishop horrifies me”.

“Bishop Eric should have checked the file and found the 1954 conviction in 1997. Cotton later told Cotton in 2001 about his conviction. WB told me in 1999 he thought Cotton was a villain and I was always personally uneasy about him. When the police closed their case I thought that was it. I now know his PTO was abused after retirement.”

There was discussion about Cotton’s PTO and whether WB knew that he was actually ministering after retirement outside the care home where he was said to be (he was actually in his own house in Seddlescombe). In summary Nicholas Reade only knew of Cotton being in a nursing home from 2003. Wallace Benn declaring that NR had told him this information in 1999 cannot be a genuine memory.

On the issue of Robert Coles NR’s pathetic attempts to defend him removed what credibility he had until this point in his evidence. He tried to minimise the seriousness of a serious sexual assault of a boy by Rideout as a way of justifying not reporting the confession Coles had made to him to the police despite him being aware that Coles had made a “no reply” interview to the police. “He never admitted rape” was NR’s declaration. He felt Eric Kemp should have made the decision.

Colin Perkins

Colin Perkins was a smartly-dressed man wearing a tie with short hair aged around 50.

He has been the DSA since 2011 in Chichester. He explained how collaborative working with other agencies has been a vast improvement in Chichester. He agrees the diocese was in a state of paralysis when he arrived. Things became so bad that he and others on the Diocesan Safeguarding Advisory Group (DSAG) launched a CDM against WB.

On reporting to statutory authorities he confirmed “We no longer ask the Bishop’s permission to report out. We just get on with it.”

A number of cases were examined and CP explained how things on reporting had gone wrong.

On the adequacy of the CDM mechanism he confirmed its failures are :-

  • There was a 1 year time limit until 2016 and now you have to justify an exemption
  • There is power to suspend clergy only when arrested (Bishop now has a discretion to suspend)
  • All CDM complaints have to be made in writing
  • The standard of proof was high until the late 1990s
  • It is not possible for a complainant to speak only to a woman
  • A CDM could not be pursued if someone was acquitted before 2013
  • Penalties can only be by consent
  • There is no monitoring of statistics
  • There is no central record of complaints or the type of complaint

Overall Colin Perkins was clearly getting on with his work within a flawed system and was complacent about how well the system was working. I had the impression that his system works because of him taking the issues seriously whereas in other dioceses with weaker DSAs or more forceful Bishops the same mistakes as in Chichester can occur.

Roger Singleton

Sir Roger Singleton (RS) id a grey-haired man with a pleasant manner in his 60s. He sits on the national Safeguarding Advisory Panel. He complains it doesn’t decide anything.

He was critical of the Past Cases Review, its methodology and how it created a false rosy picture about safeguarding problems in the church. He made the point that files are very poorly kept and the press statement was “under-evidenced” (presumably a euphemism for “a lie”).

The most significant problems he saw were :-

  • Work on Culture
  • Appropriate responses to survivors
  • Prevention
  • Forgiveness is too entrenched
  • Recording quality and standards must improve

He said there is a serious case for having serious allegations investigated outside the church.

On Mandatory Reporting he agrees we need MR but more clarity on triggers to reporting.

Lord George Carey

(Archbishop of Canterbury 1990-2002). His statement was read. He essentially says he can remember nothing and will have to consult the records before he can give a statement for the Peter Ball Inquiry in July 2018.


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