Inquiry is set up into sex abuse vicar diocese

THE Archbishop of Canterbury has set up an inquiry into child protection policies of a diocese which employed a Wellingborough vicar under suspicion of child sex offences.

Lambeth Palace said the inquiry in the Diocese of Chichester had been launched “in response to concerns within the diocese”, but declined to expand on the background to the fears.

The Rev Colin Pritchard was jailed for five years in 2008 for four indecent assaults on two underage boys and three acts of gross indecency back in the 1980s when he was in charge of St Andrew’s Church in Wellingborough.

He was the vicar of St Barnabus in Bexhill-on-Sea in East Sussex until 2007 despite having been reported to police for sex offences against the boys 10 years earlier.

An internal investigation was carried out by the Church into how Pritchard was able to collude with another priest, Roy Cotton, who worked in Sussex and was also said to be involved in the abuse of minors but was not charged before he died in 2006.

The Evening Telegraph reported in March that the Bishop of Chichester the Rt Rev John Hind had apologised to victims and offered compensation.

In a statement, a Lambeth Palace spokesman said: “The Archbishop of Canterbury today set up an inquiry into the operation of the diocesan child protection policies in the Diocese of Chichester. He has appointed Bishop John Gladwin and Chancellor Rupert Bursell QC to carry out the inquiry.

“They will advise the Archbishop on any steps that need to be taken to ensure the highest possible standards of safeguarding in the diocese.”