Bishop of Lincoln suspended by the Archbishop of Canterbury

The Bishop of Lincoln Christopher Lowson(Photo: Chris McAndrew)

The Archbishop of Canterbury has suspended the Bishop of Lincoln, the Rt Rev Christopher Lowson from office "following information provided by the police". 

Archbishop Justin Welby said the decision was not because of any allegation of abuse against the bishop but was due to concerns that he might present a "significant" risk to the safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults. 

He said the decision had been made with the consent of the Bishops of Birmingham and Worcester, the two longest serving bishops in the Province of Canterbury. 

In a statement, the Archbishop said: "Following information provided by the police, I have suspended the Bishop of Lincoln Christopher Lowson from office."

He continued: "If these matters are found to be proven I consider that the bishop would present a significant risk of harm by not adequately safeguarding children and vulnerable people.

"I would like to make it absolutely clear that there has been no allegation that Bishop Christopher has committed abuse of a child or vulnerable adult." 

The Bishop of Grimsby, David Court, has been appointed to take on the episcopal leadership of the diocese in place of Bishop Lowson.

The Archbishop added: "It should be noted that suspension is a neutral act and nothing further can be said at this stage while matters are investigated. I ask for prayers for all affected by this matter."

Bishop Lowson responded to the suspension with a statement in which he said he was "bewildered" by the decision. 

"I am bewildered by the suspension and will fully cooperate in this matter," he said. 

"For the sake of the diocese and the wider Church I would like this to be investigated as quickly as possible to bring the matter to a swift conclusion."

Bishop Lowson has been the Bishop of Lincoln since 2011.  

It is not clear whether the suspension is connected to the findings from a BBC Panorama investigation which accused two previous bishops of Lincoln of failing to act on information regarding child sexual abuse. 

The programme, which aired last month, revealed that in 2015, Lincoln Diocese had passed on 53 names of concern to local police. 

The Rt Rev Dr Nicholas Chamberlain, Bishop of Grantham and lead bishop for safeguarding for the Diocese of Lincoln, said after the programme aired that the diocese was working closely with the police to deal with abuse allegations in the appropriate manner. 

"The Diocese of Lincoln wishes to acknowledge that past matters have not been handled well," he said.

"The diocese is committed to learn from its mistakes. I am very sorry that it took so long for justice to be served."