Inquiry judge hid sex abuse claims against bishop

Jul 12, 2014

Revelation prompts renewed calls for Baroness Butler-Sloss to step down

Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images

The retired judge heading the Westminster child abuse inquiry hid allegations about a bishop in a review of how the Church of England dealt with two paedophile priests because she “cared about the Church”, reports The Times this morning.

According to the report, Baroness Butler-Sloss told a victim of alleged abuse that she did not want his claims to be made public because “the press would love a bishop”.

Her comments were made three years ago during a meeting at the House of Lords with Phil Johnson, who suffered abuse by two priests when he was a choirboy in the Church of England Diocese of Chichester. Johnson, who kept a detailed record of the meeting, says he felt “pressured” into withholding allegations against the bishop.

The revelation sparked a new wave of calls for Baroness Butler-Sloss to step down as chair of the new inquiry. Earlier this week, she was criticised because of her links to the establishment, particularly the fact that her late brother, Sir Michael Havers, was attorney general when a number of Whitehall child abuse allegations were first considered.

Simon Danczuk, the Labour MP who has campaigned to expose child molestors, said Baroness Butler-Sloss’s position now “seems untenable” as “information comes out by the day which suggests she is unsuitable for the role”.

However, a Home Office spokesman said: “The integrity of Baroness Butler-Sloss is beyond reproach and we stand by her appointment unreservedly.”

Sign up for our daily newsletter