Cardinal Vincent Nichols sued after scathing report into Church abuse

Cardinal Vincent Nichols with a copy of the IICSA report that accuses him of failing to lead by example.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols and the Diocese of Westminster are being sued following the release of a damning report into sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. 

The Tablet reports that an abuse survivor is taking legal action for personal injury because of how she was treated when she asked for access to her own safeguarding files. 

A report into abuse in the Catholic Church by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) strongly criticised Cardinal Nichols' handling of allegations, accusing him of failing to show compassion for victims. 

The report accused the Cardinal and the Church as a whole of putting reputation before the welfare of children and vulnerable adults. 

"As the figurehead and the most senior leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, Catholics look to Cardinal Nichols to lead by example," the report said.

"During the final public hearing in November 2018, he apologised for the Church's failings, noting that this was a source of 'great sorrow and shame for me and, indeed I know, for the Catholic Church'.

"But there was no acknowledgement of any personal responsibility to lead or influence change. Nor did he demonstrate compassion towards victims in the recent cases which we examined."

It added: "His acknowledgement that 'there is plenty for us to achieve' applies as much to him as it does to everyone else in the Church.

"He did not always exercise the leadership expected of a senior member of the Church, at times preferring to protect the reputation of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales and in Rome."

In response to the publication of the report, Cardinal Nichols said he was "very sorry" and "distressed" by the abuse that had occurred within the Church. 

He told the BBC that he had tendered his resignation to coincide with his 75th birthday but the Pope refused to accept it. 

The abuse survivor now suing him, named in papers only as A711, says his response to the report was "the last straw" for her. 

"The fact that he resigned because he is 75 not because of the report has made me think there must be some sort of accountability, and I hope that's what this action will bring about," she said.