Wallace Benn

Wallace Benn
Wallace Benn

Former Bishop of Lewes Wallace Benn has had all Clergy Discipline complaints against him dismissed this week by a top judge and the Archbishop of York.

Wallace Benn, who retired as Bishop in October last year, became embroiled in controversy after high profile cases of child sex abuse by members of the Anglican clergy reached court.

They included former priest Robert Coles being jailed for eight years for sex assaults on young boys, the accusations against Canon Gordon Rideout and how paedophile priests Roy Cotton and Colin Pritchard were allowed to practice.

But as all complaints against him were dismissed as part of a tribunal without any misconduct of any kind being established, Wallace Benn said he had been made a scapegoat.

He has also criticised members of the Safeguarding Advisory Group of the Diocese of Chichester, namely its chairman Keith Akerman and the Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser Colin Perkins, who he said have tried to make a number of complaints against him under the Clergy Discipline Measure.

Wallace Benn said, “All their efforts were misconceived and unjustified, as has now been established. The decisions that none of the complaints should be allowed to proceed have been made in part by the Archbishop of York and in part by the Right Honourable Lord Justice Mummery, sitting in his capacity as President of Tribunals.

“Some of the complaints have been dismissed on their merits and the rest on the basis that they have been made outside the time allowed under the Clergy Discipline Measure and where no good grounds exist for any extension of time.

“All the facts relating to my conduct about which complaint was sought to be made were known to the Diocesan Bishop or Diocesan Safeguarding Advisor in office at the time of the conduct in question or both, yet nobody saw any grounds for complaint at the time, either against me or against any other Diocesan official.

“I have never met with Mr Akerman or the Safeguarding Advisory Group – despite my requests to do so. I regret their decision to seek to pursue misguided disciplinary complaints against me without first taking the trouble to invite me to address their concerns at a meeting.”

Lord Justice Mummery publicly said the various applications made to him by and on behalf of the Safeguarding Advisory Group were “the most time-consuming matters brought under the Clergy Discipline Measure since it was introduced.”

Wallace Benn made his comments this week on the Anglican Mainstream website.,

He also said, “The actions of clergy who have engaged in the abuse of children appal me and the ongoing effect on survivors is of the highest concern to me. Throughout my time as Bishop of Lewes I have at all times tried to assist the Diocese to deal appropriately with safeguarding issues.

“I have also welcomed and given my full support to the efforts made and being made to improve the practices and procedures within the Diocese for safeguarding children and vulnerable adults.

“But none of what has happened in the past can justify the attempts which have been made to cast me in the role of a scape-goat without regard to where the truth lies and where the blame ought to lie.”