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Former bishop 'would have faced child abuse claims quiz'

Tue 17 Oct 2017
By Press Association

A former bishop would have been questioned over a string of allegations of historical child sexual abuse, police said.

Bishop Hubert Victor Whitsey, who died in 1987, would have been spoken to by officers about allegations of sexual abuse from 10 victims, male and female, some of whom were children at the time of the alleged abuse.

The former Bishop of Chester is alleged to have committed the crimes from 1974 to 1982. He was bishop during this time until his retirement in 1981.

Assistant Chief Constable at Cheshire Police Nick Bailey said: "Following a thorough investigation and taking into account all of the information available, it has been established that, if Bishop Whitsey were alive today, as part of the investigation process he would have been spoken to by police.

"This would have been in order to outline the details of the allegations made and to provide him with an opportunity to offer an account of events."

Cheshire Police said five of the claims they had investigated were previously reported to members of the clergy, of which they were able to confirm one in which the victim reported what happened to members of the clergy the day after the alleged abuse.

Richard Scorer, a specialist abuse lawyer from the firm representing four of Bishop Whitsey's alleged victims, called for an independent review into "who failed to act when they learnt of his heinous behaviour".

One of the alleged victims, in a statement released through law firm Slater and Gordon, said he was "young, innocent, and naive" when the bishop abused him "sexually and psychologically", leading to a suicide attempt.

In a joint statement, the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu and the Bishop of Chester, Dr Peter Forster said: "We are deeply sorry and apologise to those individuals who have come forward to share their account of abuse by a bishop in the Church of England who was in a position of power and authority.

"We appreciate that it is very difficult for individuals to come forward and to give their account.

"Sexual abuse is a heinous crime - and is an absolute and shameful breach of trust. We acknowledge that for survivors, the effects of sexual abuse are lifelong."

The Churches Child Protection Advisory Service (CCPAS) has created a special telephone helpline number - 03030031111, dial option 2 - for people affected by the allegations concern Bishop Hubert.

Click here to listen to Premier's Alex Williams speaking with the chief executive of CCPAS, Justin Humphreys:

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