Inquiry into child abuse claims against former Carlisle Cathedral canon
Judge Sally Cahill QC will examine the church’s handling of historic claims made against the Very Rev Robert Waddington.
And the archbishop who has ordered the inquiry says the church is ready to face facts and acknowledge any failure in its work to protect children from sexual abuse.
Mr Waddington served as Residentiary Canon of Carlisle Cathedral and Bishop’s Adviser for Education from 1972 to 1977. He died in 2007, aged 79.
The claims allegedly involved an Australian schoolboy and a Manchester choirboy. The Diocese of Carlisle and Cumbria Police have previously confirmed the allegations do not relate to Mr Waddington’s time in Carlisle.
The diocese confirmed this week, however, that if approached, its officials and those at the cathedral would give any assistance it could to the inquiry. It has welcomed the action being taken and the fact its findings will be made public.
Diocese spokesman, the Rev Canon Dr Richard Pratt, said: “When there’s something foul going on, the light of day is a good antiseptic. We need to work out what may have gone wrong and put it right.”
The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, said the inquiry will seek to establish what information suggesting that Mr Waddington, who was Dean of Manchester, had committed sexual abuse was made known to whom in the Church of England and when. The Times newspaper has claimed previously that former Archbishop of York David Hope was made aware of the claims against Mr Waddington in 1999 and again in 2003, but he has strenuously denied allegations of negligence.
Anyone with information which may help the inquiry is now being urged to come forward.
Dr Sentamu, northern England’s most senior clergyman and chancellor of the University of Cumbria, said: “I am very thankful to the Lord Chief Justice for commending Her Honour Judge Sally Cahill to serve as chair of the inquiry.
“In setting up this inquiry, the church is ready to hear what really happened, face the facts, and acknowledge any failure of its systems to protect children from sexual abuse. The church’s policies have been much improved since these things took place – but there is no room for complacency.
“While this inquiry is necessarily limited in its scope, focusing on the reports of alleged crimes committed by the late Robert Waddington, when the inquiry reports the church must hear its recommendations and assess what further measures need be taken to ensure child protection policies are robust and effective.”
The inquiry’s findings will be reported by the end of October.
Judge Cahill will be joined in her work by independent social work consultant Joe Cocker and Nicola Harding, a solicitor and registrar of the Diocese of Ripon and Leeds.
Their work will focus on the way in which child protection policies may or may not have been applied by the Diocese of Manchester and Lord Hope when suggestions of sexual abuse by Mr Waddington were made.
They will also consider how the handling of that information may have been dealt with differently if current church child protection policies were in place.
Inquiry members will work with church authorities in the Diocese of North Queensland and the Royal Commission in Australia, as well as the offices of the Bishop of Manchester and Archbishop of York.
When the allegations against Mr Waddington, relating to events in the 1960s and early 1980s, came to light, the Diocese of Carlisle said it was “deeply shocked and saddened” to hear them.
It has implemented updated safeguarding policies in recent years, with key figures given training to ensure a “high level of alertness”.
Anyone with information which can help the inquiry should contact Nicola Harding at Tunnard & Co Solicitors, Cathedral Chambers, 4 Kirkgate, Ripon, HG4 1PA. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.