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Archbishop of York John Sentamu launches probe into Church of England sex abuse allegations

Accusations against former Dean of Manchester Cathedral, who died in 2007

The Archbishop of York has announced an independent inquiry into sex abuse allegations against a former Church of England cleric.

Dr John Sentamu - second only to the Archbishop of Canterbury in the Church hierarchy - said the Church should be "a safe place for all."

The allegations were made against Robert Waddington - who was Dean of Manchester Cathedral in the 1980s - and relate to a schoolboy in Australia in the 1960s and a Manchester Cathedral choirboy in the 1980s. Waddington died in 2007.

As reported in The Times earlier this week, the former Archbishop of York, David Hope, was told of the Australia claims in 1999 and the other allegations four years later. He confronted Mr Waddington and banned him from conducting services, but did not call the police.

The now Lord Hope - who was Archbishop of York until 2005 - said he had acted in line with Church policy at the time.

He said: "I strenuously deny (and am obviously disappointed at) the suggestion that myself or my team at the time would have acted negligently in this or any other safeguarding matter."

Guidance stated there was "no automatic legal obligation on the Church to refer allegations by adults to the police or social services" but has since been revised.

Lord Hope added that, "in considering whether children would be at risk from Robert Waddington, I decided under these guidelines that this would not be the case given his serious ill health following cancer surgery".

In a statement announcing the independent inquiry, Dr Sentamu said: "When any church related abuse comes to light the Church's first concern must be for the victim offering support and apologising for the abuse, acknowledging that the effects can be lifelong...

"The Church of England continues to review its child and safeguarding policies regularly to ensure that the Church is a safe place for all.

"Child abuse is a heinous and personally damaging crime, it is therefore incumbent on the Church to treat such matters with the utmost seriousness."