Englands longest serving bishop blocked lifetime ban for paedophile priest government inquiry

Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. The 89-year-old, who is now in the early stages of dementia, was jailed for 27 months at Liverpool Crown Court.The Bishop, who was ordained in 1980, is due to retire in September. The Rt Rev Forster was successful in his application, as the President of the Tribunals agreed to impose a 20-year ban.In 2014 Hughes admitted 16 offences, and was found by police officers in Merseyside to have been making and possessing more then 8,00 0chil pornography images and films.At the time following his conviction, the Rt Revd Forster, criticised Hughes’ actions as “unacceptable” and announced church disciplinary procedures would be launched.However the IICSA heard for the first time that he had also blocked him being banned from the Church for life. In March The Telegraph reported that he would no longer have powers to screen clergy and gave up his safeguarding powers in what was believed to be the first case of its kind. The Church of England has also commenced formal proceedings regarding Bishop Forster’s conduct. He has been reported to the Church’s disciplinary body by its most senior safeguarding watchdog. Sir Roger Singleton CBE, interim director of the Church of England’s National Safeguarding Team, has instigated the start of the Church Disciplinary Measure (CDM) process. This can result in a tribunal or hearing overseen by the watchdog, if evidence of malpractice is found.This came as a result of his failure to tell police about disclosures of abuse made against the Rev Gordon Dickenson which were referred to in a letter to the diocese in 2009 because he made promises he would not do it again. Earlier this year, Dickinson was convicted of eight counts of sexual assault after pleading guilty to abusing a boy during the 1970s inside a church hall and in his vicarage.  England’s longest-serving Bishop blocked a lifetime Church ban for a paedophile priest, a government inquiry has heard.The Bishop of Chester, Rt Rev Dr Peter Forster, argued that rather than impose a lifetime ban on the Reverend Ian Hughes – a disgraced vicar who was jailed for harbouring thousands of pictures of child pornography – he instead fought to make him subject to a 20-year ban.Giving evidence to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) yesterday [WEDS] the Bishop said that he had made the decision at the time “because I knew Mr Hughes”. He told the panel that, aside from the thousands of indecent images “in every other respect he has had a good ministry and has been very well regarded by his parishioners” and added that given Hughes’ “relative youth”, “his excellent previous record” and that the fact he was “entirely penitent” he thought he would argue against the lifetime ban from the Church. “The problem with a lifetime ban is there’s no way of revisiting that unless new evidence arises and it seemed to me that while he would never return to being in a position of responsibility, if for 20 years had lived with penitence” then he thought it a fair decision. “After 20 years at least, the door could be left open for others down the line to review the situation and that could not have happened if the life penalty had been imposed,” he added. I think he [Hughes] got drawn into a very sick and unsatisfactory situation.”

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