Today my colleague Tim Wood reveals the full details of a recent private letter from Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, to Marilyn Hawes,the Hertfordshire mother of three boys sexually abused at a Church of England school more than a decade ago.
The contents will confirm what everybody connected with following the child sexual abuse scandal as it has been developing, knows – that child sexual abuse has been rampant, as he puts it, across institutions in Britain.
As Tim discloses in his article on the Exaro website and in the Sunday Times the Archbishop – who is known to see this as a major problem in society – does not mince his words.
“It is now clear that in a huge number of institutions and localities, the abuse of children and vulnerable adults has been rampant. That is not in any way mitigation or excuse for the church, but is why I have been, with Paul Butler,( The Bishop of Durham) pushing for the public inquiry that the government has promised.”
“It is also clear that there is a very significant legacy of unacknowledged cases in the Church of England. We are taking all necessary steps to face these.”
The mother’s tale is very familiar to many – first denial, then being shunned, and then receiving a brush off at the top of the Church of England until now. At least the perpetrator in this case, a music teacher, was caught and jailed.
The tragedy of this case comes as Theresa May, the home secretary, has reluctantly finally agreed to set up an overarching child sex abuse inquiry into historic and current abuse.
Unfortunately just as something good was about to happen – after heroic efforts by MPs of almost all parties – the inquiry has now become mired in a row over the appointment of its chair, Fiona Woolf, the Mayor of the City of London. Her links with Leon Brittan, who is likely to be one of the witnesses because of documents detailing VIP abuse disappearing in the past and under his watch as home secretary in the 1980s, appear not to have been properly investigated.
Normally people could celebrate the government tasking some action to find out what has been a hidden scandal in this country for decades. But they can’t until this mess over the inquiry is sorted out.