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Prepare for "difficult and shocking things" warns Bishop of Grantham over Panorama historic abuse programme

The Bishop of Grantham has issued a further statement in advance of a BBC Panorama programme tonight, which will allege claims of historic abuse were not investigated properly by the Diocese of Lincoln.

The programme titled 'Scandal in the Church of England' is billed as an 'in-depth investigation' on historic claims of abuse, and the Diocese of Lincoln will form part of the programme.

As reported by the Stamford Mercury this morning, a list of 53 clergy and staff from the Church of England’s Lincoln Diocese was referred to the police in 2015 after the diocese realised it had failed to properly handle past allegations and concerns about abuse, some involving children.

Bishop of Grantham (9341860)
Bishop of Grantham (9341860)

Panorama reports Lincolnshire Police and Lincoln Diocese investigated 25 names on the list, with three cases leading to convictions. The investigation, codenamed Operation Redstone, is ongoing.

The Bishop of Grantham, the Rt Rev Dr Nicholas Chamberlain, repeated comments he made in a statement issued to the programme where he admitted "past matters have not been handled well."

He continued: "The Diocese is committed to learn from its mistakes. I am very sorry it too so long for justice to be served."

The programme will hear the late Rt Revd Kenneth Riches, former Bishop of Lincoln, was told in 1969 that Roy Griffiths, a deputy head teacher at Lincoln Cathedral School, had attempted to indecently assault a pupil. But it says police did not become aware of the case until 45 years later.

A follow-up statement (9342489)
A follow-up statement (9342489)

Roy Griffiths finally admitted abusing six boys at Lincoln Cathedral School last year, and is now serving a prison sentence of six years and seven months.

Dr Chamberlain says the church now has a close working relationship with Lincolnshire Police on Operation Redstone.

He continued: "Together they have worked tirelessly to ensure that convictions were secured where possible and where this was not an option, that risk was managed appropriately.

"Every effort has been made to ensure that is part of the DNA for the Diocese of Lincoln. There are high levels of confidence in the safeguarding practicioners from Lincolnshire and statutory authorities."

The bishop further warned the diocese today: "I wanted to write to you so that we can all be as best prepared as it is possible to be, should we hear difficult and shocking things- and to thank you for all that I know that you are doing to support victims and survivors and to ensure that our churches are safe for everyone."

The Lincolnshire Diocese has posted today's statement, along with one it prepared for the BBC programme.

This afternoon, it also posted details as to where people can seek help if they have suffered abuse.

The statement from the Bishop of Grantham (9341500)
The statement from the Bishop of Grantham (9341500)

Today's comments follow a recent statement from the Bishop of Lincoln, the Rt Rev Christopher Lowson.

It said: "I have asked the bishop of Grantham to lead on all safeguarding arrangements in the diocese of Lincoln and have formally delegated this responsibility to him from 18th April 2019.

"A non-recent safeguarding matter reported in the diocese of Lincoln is being investigated. All appropriate information has been passed on to the police and statutory authorities.

"I have taken this decision because I have discovered that my interaction with the matter will need to be part of the investigation. The investigation will be led by the National Safeguarding Team and I will be cooperating fully with its work.

"Good safeguarding practice supports the development of safer expressions of care to all and underpins the love and welcome of God for all people. The diocese of Lincoln takes very seriously its safeguarding responsibilities at every level, and whilst this investigation takes place it is appropriate that I take this step.

"I will continue in all other duties relating to my role as bishop of Lincoln."

Lincoln Diocese sources of support (9345020)
Lincoln Diocese sources of support (9345020)

The move comes as the Church Times reported in the past week that two senior members of staff at Lincoln Cathedral, the Dean and the Canon Chancellor, have 'stepped back' temporarily from their roles while a historic safeguarding matter, thought to involve vulnerable adults, is investigated.

BBC Panorama: Scandal In The Church Of England will be broadcast tonight at 8.30pm on BBC One.

The programme is a joint investigation with BBC Look North. Viewers in East Yorkshire and Lincolnshire can see more on Look North on BBC One tonight at 6.30pm.

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