Complaint laid against Bishop of Lewes

Bishop Wallace Benn
Bishop Wallace Benn

A FORMAL complaint has been made against Bishop Wallace Benn, the Bishop of Lewes.

Church officials have confirmed the diocesan independent Safeguarding Advisory Group has made a complaint to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s office at Lambeth Palace which now has to decide whether to dismiss the complaint or continue the disciplinary process.

Earlier this year Bishop Benn publicly apologised following a church-commissioned report by Baroness Butler-Sloss, which examined how senior clergy dealt with historical claims of abuse by two paedophile priests.

The report looked into the cases of Roy Cotton and Colin Pritchard, who abused children in Eastbourne in the 1970s and 1980s.

Cotton was ordained in 1966, despite having a conviction for indecently assaulting a choirboy in the 1950s, and went on to abuse at least 10 boys from Eastbourne.

Cotton died in 2006, two weeks before Pritchard was arrested and jailed for sex offences.

In 1999, the year when Cotton retired as a priest, Bishop Benn gave him permission to continue with his priestly duties.

The bishop told the baroness that he had given Cotton permission to officiate in 1999 to permit him to celebrate communion in the nursing home where he was then living but it has since been revealed Cotton was not admitted to the nursing home until September 2003.

The complaint against the bishop is being compiled by the safeguarding advisory group of the Diocese Of Chichester, an independent group responsible for scrutinising the diocese.

The clergy discipline measures cover allegations of misconduct and came into effect in 2006.

A spokesperson for the diocese confirmed a complaint had been made against Bishop Benn but said he would not be commenting.