Resignation of the Archbishop of Canterbury: A Follow-Up
- Crime & Parliamentary Affairs correspondent TIM HICKS reports on Lord Carey, forced to resign from the clergy for covering up multiple offences of sexual abuse by a Bishop.
I write with a follow up to my article “The Bishop Peter Ball case and the call for a new offence of failing to report child abuse”, which was published on the 26th of June 2017.
Briefly the article discussed the recent call for Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, to resign as Honorary Bishop of Oxford. This followed an internal investigation by the Church of England found that he had concealed evidence which helped Bishop Peter Ball escape prosecution for multiple sex offences against teenagers and young men. Very sadly, Neil Todd committed suicide because of the impact Ball’s abuse had on him.
It was announced on the 27th of June 2017 that Lord Carey had resigned.
Lord Carey’s resignation
The Bishop of Oxford the Right Reverend Dr Steven Croft confirmed that Lord Carey had resigned and stated: ‘Lord Carey has accepted the criticisms made of him in the Gibb review and has apologised to the victims of Peter Ball.’ In my view a key admission. Full press statement here. This has effectively excluded him from the clergy in disgrace. To use a military analogy, it appears to me that this is the equivalent of being ordered to resign your Commission or being cashiered.
Although I feel a sense of sadness that this has occurred to a man that devoted his life to the Church of England, it is important to put this event in the context in which it has occurred. The Church of England has been rocked by sex abuse scandal after scandal and it is essential to make a clear statement that this conduct, and also covering up for it, is unacceptable. I am therefore glad that he has been forced to resign. He should have resigned much earlier, in my view.
His Grace Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby: Acting impartially to make a clear moral stand against those who commit sexual abuse and those that protect them, both from within the Church of England and other organisations.
The decision by the Archbishop of Canterbury, His Grace Justin Welby, to force the resignation of Lord Carey has set a public standard.
Despite his long service and the position he had achieved in the church, Lord Carey, a former Archbishop of Canterbury has been publicly disciplined for conducting a cover up over unacceptable conduct by a Bishop. Full story from the Daily Mail here. Although in real terms this is the strongest punishment available to His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury, this is a comparatively light punishment, given the harm that was done to the victims that Lord Carey ignored, one of whom committed suicide. In the article above, I went on to advocate the implementation of a new criminal offence of failure to report child abuse.
I have no doubt that the decision to force Lord Carey to resign was agonising for Archbishop Welby. But it was the correct course of action, in my opinion. It demonstrates clear leadership, a strong moral position and makes a clear stand against those members of the Church of England who commit sexual abuse and those that protect them. I hope and believe it will have a wider impact, beyond the Church of England.
The wider implications of Archbishop Welby’s actions
All institutions are similar and have a tendency to reject criticism and indulge in bureaucratic intransigence, to protect its reputation and the reputation of its employees.
Long term readers of the NYE will remember our campaign to expose serial child abuser and Scarborough Mayor Peter Jaconelli. I believe that one of the reasons Peter Jaconelli was protected was because Scarborough Borough Council did not want its reputation tarnished by a child abuse scandal. Similarly, North Yorkshire Police would not face up to its failure to arrest Peter Jaconelli because it did not want the embarrassment of admitting that it had failed miserably in its duty to protect children. Nor did it want to face up to the spectre of its own officers being subjected to disciplinary action or criminal charges.
Eventually following pressure brought on the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) by the NYE Team, the IPCC directed North Yorkshire Police to investigate our allegations about Jimmy Savile and Peter Jaconelli. A report was produced by North Yorkshire Police Assistant Chief Constable Sue Cross claiming that our allegations were unfounded, thereby evading any criticism of North Yorkshire Police over their failure to arrest Jaconelli or his associate Savile, although they were offending openly in Scarborough and Whitby. Cross was able to come to this perverse conclusion because she did not bother interviewing any witnesses or anyone from the NYE. (NYE Article on the Assistant Chief Constable Cross report here).
Incredibly, the IPCC accepted her report without question. (Arguably, as it transpired, the worst investigative failure in the history of the IPCC.)
The NYE team continued its investigation and participated in a BBC “Inside Out” investigation (video here). Within days, North Yorkshire Police referred itself to the IPCC and initiated an investigation into Peter Jaconelli – code named Operation Hibiscus. To quote a subsequent North Yorkshire Police statement:
“Operation Hibiscus began on 14 February 2014. It was instigated following the broadcast of the regional TV news programme Inside Out, which prompted 35 people to come forward with reports of historic sexual abuse by Jaconelli and Savile. 32 of the cases related to Jaconelli for reported offences that occurred between 1958 and 1998, and five to Savile that occurred between 1979 and 1988.”
Assistant Chief Constable Sue Cross conducted an investigation which failed to interview any witnesses, missed the existence of one of the most prolific paedophile rings in the UK and 37 serious sexual offences committed by Peter Jaconelli and Jimmy Savile.
The investigation by Assistant Chief Constable Cross into the NYE allegations against Jaconelli was arguably the worst investigative failure in the history of North Yorkshire Police. Yet no action of any sort was taken against Assistant Chief Constable Cross or any other officer. No apology for her report or retraction of it was ever issued. One Detective Sergeant was brought up on misconduct charges for withholding intelligence on Jaconelli from the Police intelligence system – essentially the same offence that Lord Carey committed. The IPCC report can be seen in this NYE article “Catalogue of catastrophic investigative failures”. Predictably, no action was taken against him and North Yorkshire Police issued a triumphant press release (here) lauding the fact that the officer concerned had been cleared of misconduct.
Unlike the statement from Lord Carey above, the press statement from Assistant Chief Constable Paul Kennedy is remarkable because (a) there is no mention of apology to the victims that suffered as a result of the failure to arrest Jaconelli, or (b) to investigate its past failings impartially, and (c) no admission of any wrongdoing or acceptance of criticism, beyond acknowledging some learning points.
The decision by Archbishop Welby to dismiss Lord Carey in disgrace sets a new and higher moral standard. I believe this goes beyond the Church of England. I think that, going forward, it will be more difficult for institutions like the Police to protect child abusers and those of their members who participate in cover ups afterwards.
The existence of a new offence of failing to report or act on evidence of child abuse will also deter failure to report or act on evidence of abuse in the future.
I hope this is of some comfort to Peter Ball’s victims, but particularly to the family and friends of Neil Todd, who was so badly let down.