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Former Anglican archbishop accused of abuse cover-up

By Laura Smith-Spark and Richard Allen Greene, CNN
May 10, 2013 -- Updated 1326 GMT (2126 HKT)
(File) Archbishop of York David Hope (C) pictured with the queen and Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams (L) in 2003.
(File) Archbishop of York David Hope (C) pictured with the queen and Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams (L) in 2003.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Former archbishop of York is accused of not alerting police to child abuse by a clergyman
  • The former archbishop, David Hope, says he followed church policy as it was at the time
  • The alleged abuses were committed by Robert Waddington, who died in 2003
  • The claims emerged in an investigation by the Times of London and The Australian

London (CNN) -- A former archbishop of York was accused Friday of covering up child abuse by a Church of England clergyman who has since died.

The accusations against the late Very Rev. Robert Waddington are the result of a joint investigation by the Times of London and The Australian newspaper, based in Sydney.

The Times alleges that Waddington, who died in 2007 from cancer, abused choirboys and school children, and that the former archbishop of York, David Hope, failed to report the abuse claims to police or child protection authorities after he was made aware of them in 1999 and 2003.

The former archbishop, who was made Lord Hope after he stood down in 2005, said he had followed the legal requirements of the time.

Pope vows action against sex abuse

"Throughout my time as bishop and archbishop I always adhered to the statutory practices of the Church of England concerning safeguarding," he said in a statement Friday.

"I strenuously deny (and am obviously disappointed at) the suggestion that myself or my team at the time would have acted negligently in this or any other safeguarding matter."

Under the Church of England's 1999 Policy on Child Protection, there was no automatic legal obligation on the church to refer allegations by adults to the police or social services, his statement said. The policy, which has since been reviewed, said only that steps should be taken to protect children from any further abuse.

"In considering whether children would be at risk from Robert Waddington I decided under these guidelines that this would not be the case given his serious ill health following cancer surgery," Hope said. "The following year I revoked Robert Waddington's permission to officiate. He died two years later."

Waddington, once dean of Manchester Cathedral, is accused in the Times of grooming and abusing Eli Ward, who was an 11-year-old choir boy when he first met the clergyman in 1984.

Ward, now 40, told the newspaper the abuse lasted through his teenage years and he was only now starting to come to terms with it.

Claims of abuse at the hands of Waddington have also been made by pupils at a residential school in Queensland, Australia, where he was headmaster from 1961 to 1970, according to the Times.

The Diocese of Manchester said it was aware of the allegations of past abuse against its former dean and was "working cooperatively with the parties concerned."

The diocese places the "highest priority on all child safeguarding issues," and has a comprehensive child protection policy in place across its churches and schools, the statement said. "We encourage all who have suffered abuse to report it to the police."

The bishop of Southwell and Nottingham, the Right Rev. Paul Butler, chairman of the Churches National Safeguarding Committee, said the church would always apologize for "past systems that let down the vulnerable" and offer support to anyone affected.

"When any church-related abuse or allegation of abuse comes to light our first concern is always for the victim: Both that they are being supported and with an acknowledgment that the effects of abuse can be lifelong," he said.

The office of the archbishop of York said it was aware of legal proceedings and could not comment on the allegations at this time.

"For some years now the Church of England has been working consistently towards making the church a safe place for all," it added.

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