Inquiry judge quits after church scandal

Baroness Butler-Sloss SUS-140717-110659001
Baroness Butler-Sloss SUS-140717-110659001

The news that a top judge appointed to conduct an investigation into the handling of sex abuse cases by senior politicians has quit, has been welcomed by an Eastbourne man who accused her of a cover up in a previous inquiry.

Phil Johnson, a campaigner for people abused within the Church of England, says Baroness Butler-Sloss was not the right person to look into how the government handled allegations of institutional child abuse in the late 1980s.

Mr Johnson, who lives locally and was abused by a paedophile priest when he was growing up in Eastbourne, said an inquiry led by the baroness into abuse within the church was flawed.

Mr Johnson said the baroness told him she wanted to exclude his allegations of abuse at the hands of a bishop from a public report because she “cared about the church” and “did not want to give the press a bishop”.

The baroness faced calls to stand down as soon as she was appointed and within days had stepped aside saying, “It has become apparent over the last few days that there is a widespread perception, particularly among victim and survivor groups, that I am not the right person to chair the inquiry.

“This is a victim-orientated inquiry and those who wish to be heard must have confidence that the members of the panel will pay proper regard to their concerns and give appropriate advice to government.

“Having listened to the concerns of victim and survivor groups and the criticisms of MPs and the media, I have come to the conclusion I should not chair this inquiry and have so informed the Home Secretary.”

Mr Johnson, who waived his right to anonymity after he was abused by vicar Roy Cotton, has long campaigned for justice for victims of abuse at the hands of clergy. He criticised the Baroness Butler-Sloss report and recently said, “She seemed far too ready to believe accounts by bishops and far too interested in keeping damaging revelations out of the press.”