A 13-YEAR-OLD chorister was abused during visits to the York home of a former cathedral dean, an inquiry report has revealed.

He was one of a number of choir boys who were invited to stay in York by Robert Waddington, who moved to the city in 1993 after retiring as Dean of Manchester Cathedral and officiated at services at the Minster and other smaller churches.

An inquiry into the Church of England's handling of child abuse allegations against Mr Waddington said the boy had claimed he was subjected to abusive acts in nYork which 'could be deeply emotionally damaging to a teenager aged 13.'

It also said Mr Waddington arranged for the choirboy to practise at short notice in the Minster School choir room and was known to have access to the choirboys' cloakroom at the Minster as late as 1999, said the report by Judge Sally Cahill QC.

The boy told the inquiry that in 1999/2000, he witnessed Mr Waddington buy and slip a Mars bar secretly into the pocket of an allegedly 'loner' chorister, whom he helped with revision until the boy's mother stopped it.

The inquiry report, published following an independent inquiry set up by current Archbishop, Dr John Sentamu, strongly criticised former Archbishop of York, Lord Hope, for his handling of separate allegations against Mr Waddington by a Manchester chorister and a schoolboy in Australia.

It said he struggled with the conflict between his responsibilities for both the pastoral care of clergy and for discipline, and his concern for the welfare of Robert Waddington seemed to have been paramount.

It said that in 1999, Lord Hope failed to take any advice from his own child protection advisor, conducted an interview with Mr Waddington alone - risking the contamination of evidence- failed to consider current risks to children and failed to attach weight to guidance that people who abuse are practised in deception. He breached policies again in 2003 and 2004.

“The consequential result of those failures were that by once again acting independently and not asking advice from anyone, he failed to appreciate the consequences for anyone other than Robert Waddington, and in particular failed to consider the effect on any of the potential victims and on children who may be at risk."

The report also identified ‘systemic failures’ in the church’s failure to implement or follow its own procedures and guidelines on the reporting of incidents.

It made eight recommendations for future handling of allegations, including that decision-makers should not have a pastoral responsibility for the alleged perpetrator, child protection should be approached on a national rather than diocesan basis and record keeping should be national.

Dr Sentamu said he was ‘deeply ashamed’ that the church was not vigilant enough to ensure such things did not happen, adding: “Any act of abuse committed by someone in a position of authority in the Church is a matter of shame and requires deep repentance.”

He also said he 'had every sympathy' with the view that priests should be allowed to report to the police any admissions of abuse which are made during formal religious Confession. They are currently bound to secrecy in such circumstances.

He said the Archbishops’ council had decided to commission theological and legal work to explore whether the current position should be changed.

Mr Waddington died from cancer in 2007, two years after moving from York to the south coast.

Lord Hope’s regret over allegations

LORD Hope said in a statement that as someone who had always taken safeguarding extremely seriously, he was “obviously disappointed” the inquiry had raised concerns about how the two cases were dealt with during his time at Bishopthorpe.

He said he always took great care and acted in what he believed to be an appropriate and effective manner in cases where the abuse of victims was brought to his attention.

“I note that the inquiry itself is clear that no allegations of abuse in the Diocese of York were ever made during my time as Archbishop.”

He said it was a matter of “great regret” that when non-specific anonymous allegations were first made in Manchester, the church and he himself were not more pro-active in seeking out or assisting a reluctant complainant.

“Nor is it any comfort that other organisations were no more diligent at that time when dealing with similar situations.”

He also said: “If any of the two persons concerned feel in the light of this report they have been denied the justice they deserve then, on behalf of the church, I offer my personal and profound apology.”