Anglican former archbishop denies abuse cover-up

LONDON (AFP) - A former Church of England Archbishop has denied claims that he covered up allegations of child abuse against a senior clergyman, which were revealed in Friday's Times newspaper.

David Hope, who served as Archbishop of York between 1995 and 2005, said he "strongly resisted" accusations that he withheld from police claims made by choirboys and school pupils against Robert Waddington, a former Dean of Manchester Cathedral, in order to protect the church.

According to the joint report carried out by the London Times and The Australian newspaper, Hope was told of the claims in 1999 and again in 2003.

Waddington, who died in 2007, was stripped of his right to conduct church services but the claims were not passed on to police or child protection agencies, the Times reported.

"I didn't report to the police," Hope told the Times. "With hindsight, probably there ought to have been (a report). He (Waddington) was in such a fragile and frail state.

"I would strongly resist any suggestion that I was in the business of covering up anything. I would absolutely deny that.

There's no way I was interested in any cover up," added Hope, who was the second-highest ranking bishop in the Anglican church at the time of the claims.

Hope argued that procedures in place in the Church at the time meant he was not obliged to report the case to the authorities.

But Greater Manchester Police said they were concerned they had not heard of the allegations until after Waddington's death.

The force became aware of the claims last October when Eli Ward, a former Manchester choirboy, filed a report to officers.

"After so many years of suffering alone, I find myself in a position where the more research I do, the more shocking the cover-up of the Church," Ward said this week.

Ward, 40, claims that he was groomed and abused by Waddington in the 1980s when he was a chorister.

Waddington faced a separate claim in Australia, where he was headmaster of a boarding school in the 1960s.

Bim Atkinson says that he was subjected to violent abuse when he was a pupil at St Barnabas School in Queensland.

He received a £50,000 (S$95,382) payout, but the Church made no admission of liability.

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