The head teacher at Bishop Bell School, where Rideout was governor for more than 14 years, has spoken to the Herald following the conviction.
Canon Gordon Rideout was on the governing body at Bishop Bell between May 1997 and November 2011. He became chair of the governors at the school in Priory Road in November 2006 and remained in that post until he left.
Terry Boatwright, executive head of Bishop Bell, said, “Clearly, while the police investigations were ongoing, I was unable to address the media issues which arose last year around the actions of Bishop Bell School with regard to Canon Rideout. I am pleased to have the opportunity to do so now that the trial has concluded.
“Firstly, I would emphasise that the safety and welfare of our pupils is our top priority and we take safeguarding extremely seriously. It is important to stress that none of the charges against Canon Rideout in any way related to the school. Nor is there any suggestion that there has ever been any safeguarding risk to any of our pupils.”
Mr Boatwright also said that Rideout, as a governor, would only have had ‘very limited and controlled access to children’.
He added, “In terms of the CRB issue, in November 2009 we undertook enhanced CRB checks on all our governors.
“In March 2010, we were made aware by the County Council of an issue with Canon Rideout’s CRB which advised us to seek further details from Sussex Police.
“Having done that, advised by the County Council and in line with its guidance to governing bodies, we assessed the risk carefully and made a decision about whether it was appropriate for Canon Rideout to continue as a governor.
“It should be made very clear that we had not been informed of any wider concerns or issues at that time by the Chichester Diocesan authority.
“The decision we made was based on the information available to us and, in that context, was appropriate.
“Indeed, our conclusion that it was appropriate for Canon Rideout to continue his role on the governing body is in line with the view taken by the Independent Safeguarding Authority, the national body responsible for judging whether people should be allowed to work with children and vulnerable adults.
“As a church school, with close links with the Diocese, it is unfortunate that wider concerns and information that the Diocese had about Canon Rideout were not shared with us.
“As soon as we became aware of actions the Diocese was taking and that it had wider concerns, we arranged for Canon Rideout to stand down from his role on the governing body.”