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Statement on the sentencing of Robert Coles

Thursday 14th February 2013

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has issued the following statement after the sentencing of Robert Coles at Brighton Crown Court today.

I have read details of this case sent to me by the Diocese of Chichester and the Commissaries who were appointed by Bishop Rowan. My first concern is always for those whose lives have been affected in any way by cases of abuse within the Church of England and I am appalled by the details of today’s case. The systems designed to protect the survivors clearly failed, their vulnerability was taken advantage of, and their lives have been deeply and in some cases permanently affected, as have the lives of those who love them.

I believe that the safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults should be the highest priority of all parts of the Church, and that any failings in this area must be immediately reported to the police. There are no excuses for shortcomings.

I repeat what I have said before and, on behalf of the Church, apologise with deep grief for the betrayals and failings that occurred.

The victims and survivors, their friends and relatives, are in my prayers and, as I have said, my priority as Archbishop of Canterbury is to prevent future failings of this kind happening again. We must ensure that the Church is and remains a safe place for all children, young people and vulnerable adults and I know this is a view shared by the Bishop of Chichester. The diocese, led by Bishop Martin, continues to work closely with the police and all statutory authorities in relation to safeguarding matters.

The Commissaries appointed by Bishop Rowan have been continuing their work in the Diocese of Chichester, and I must commend their painstaking and careful attention to all the material safeguarding issues, and their very real concern for the survivors.



See further information at the Diocese of Chichester website.

See also: Press Advisory from Lambeth Palace 22.12.2011

See also: Archbishop's Chichester Visitation - interim report 30.08.2012

See also: Archbishop's Chichester Visitation - update 18.10.2012


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