Church's approach to abuse was to 'stonewall' and 'say nothing', says Rowan Williams' former aide

Rowan Williams' former spin doctor today admitted the Church of England's policy was to 'stonewall' abuse victims.

A former official for Lord Williams in his time as archbishop of Canterbury said Lambeth Palace's approach was 'to do and say nothing' in the face of allegations of child sexual abuse in 2010.

Lambeth PalaceLambeth Palace is the residence and office of the archbishop of Canterbury in London.

George Pitcher, William's former public affairs secretary, insisted the Church should not see him as 'the bad boy of its communications' after he was criticised during hearings into whether the CofE, colluded in, covered up or facilitated abuse.

The inquiry into child sex abuse heard the extent to which Pitcher and other Lambeth Palace officials were desperate to shield Lord Williams from the abuse allegations.

In an internal email from Pitcher to other senior officials he said the 'real danger here is that these stories are used to suggest the CofE is as bad as Rome, both in abuse and cover-up'.

He went on to suggest the then bishop of Chichester, John Hind, 'may have to be thrown to the press as a sacrifice' as allegations of child abuse in east Sussex emerged.

'The aim must be to distance the current ABC [archbishop of Canterbury] from it as much as poss [sic]. All actions must serve that purpose in my view.'

When shown the email Williams said: 'I had no involvement in this at all and I'm frankly rather shocked to see it.'

He added: 'If that was the approach of Lambeth Palace it was not an approach that I was aware of or sanctioned. I would really rather like to put my apologies to Bishop Hind on record.'

In a social media post today Pitcher said: 'When I joined Lambeth Palace in 2010 the culture at that time was for the Church to stonewall, to do and say nothing in response to abuse allegations. The IICSA might like to consider that, when the Church tries now to cast me as the bad boy of its communications.'

Pitcher told Christian Today: 'There was a culture of inertia in the Church in many senses, not just this one, in which the ideal seemed to be to keep a status quo going rather than get anything done.

'I think that was particularly true of Lambeth Palace at the time,' he added.

'Maybe on reflection Rowan should have cut thorough this with the same degree of vision he had for the Anglican Communion and on occasion for women's ordination.

'He was a victim of the machine.'

Pitcher told Christian Today the 'culture of inertia prevails today' and his emails quoted in the IICSA hearings were an attempt to cut through that.

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