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Church ‘failed to take action after reports of child abuse’

Preyed on boys: Former deputy headteacher Roy Griffiths in the 1960s and (below) last year

TWO Church of England bishops ‘turned a blind eye’ to allegations of child abuse, an investigation has claimed.

Lincolnshire Police and the church’s Lincolnshire Diocese investigated 25 people over alleged abuse in 2015, from a list of 53 names, with just three cases leading to a conviction.

However, BBC’s Panorama said some of the names could have been referred years earlier, with two former Lincoln Diocese bishops being made aware of the abuse but failing to take any action.

The late Rt Rev Kenneth Riches, former Bishop of Lincoln, was told in 1969 that Roy Griffiths, a deputy headteacher at Lincoln Cathedral School, had attempted to indecently assault a pupil.

Griffiths kept his job at the school until 1970, when another pupil complained about abuse of boys by him.

He remained at the school for at least two further months, and was able to move to a job at an Anglican school in Papua New Guinea. Police were only made aware of the abuse in 2015.

Last year, Griffiths, now in his 80s, admitted abusing six boys at Lincoln Cathedral School and was sentenced to six years and seven months in prison.

Panorama also claimed another former Bishop of Lincoln, the Rt Rev Robert Hardy, was told his director of education, John Bailey had ‘touched up’ a girl but it was a one-off incident.

The bishop did not contact the girl or her family to discover more, and Bailey was allowed to continue working at the diocese for another six years.

One of Bailey’s victims said he had become friends with her family and would touch her inappropriately while she was in bed. ‘It went on from when I was four ’til when I was 11. And it happened quite frequently,’ she said.

In 2017, Bailey admitted abusing three girls and was sentenced to six years in prison. Mr Hardy said no one had contacted him about Bailey and, if they had, he would have investigated.

Det Supt Rick Hatton, who leads Operation Redstone, told last night’s Panorama programme: ‘Just because they are what we call non-recent cases, doesn’t make them any less serious.’

The Rt Rev Nicholas Chamberlain, Bishop of Grantham and now lead bishop on safeguarding for the diocese, said it ‘wishes to acknowledge that past matters have not been handled well’.

It was ‘committed to learn from its mistakes’, he added.