Abuse Survivors Blog

Child abuse cover up admitted by Bishop of Chichester

Written by Tracey Emmott on 26 Apr 2013

Dr Martin Warner, the Bishop of Chichester has admitted to a former choirboy, abused as a child by an Anglican priest, Roy Cotton, in East Sussex, that there was a cover-up. In a private letter of apology to Gary Johnson, Dr Warner wrote "There has been deception and cover-up here".

He told the BBC: "By cover-up, I mean that a person in authority, who has information, deliberately, knowingly ignores the information, does not pass it on; allows somebody who is a perpetrator of abuse to move from one post to another, allows somebody who is a perpetrator of abuse not to be challenged, brought to account - and thereby colludes actually with the abuse." Dr Warner said it also referred to when an accusation was rebuffed.

"There have been instances [of child sex abuse] we now see as the files are explored where that has happened. Roy Cotton is the most obvious example for which we have evidence" he said.

Gary Johnson and his older brother were abused by Roy Cotton who worked for the Diocese of Chichester in the 1970s and 1980s. Mr Johnson said of the letter "I've been taken seriously at last. It's given me some semblance of humanity. I've been validated, and I've been met at a level where I don't feel like a victim or a survivor. I feel like I am a party that is worth talking to".

Dr Warner told the BBC he hoped the letter would be received by Mr Johnson "as a statement of our commitment to honesty and openness". He added, "I think it's very important also to say that where we see failure, where we see cover-up, where we see malpractice, we name it."

Topics: News

Tracey Emmott

Written by Tracey Emmott

Tracey Emmott is a solicitor with over 25 years’ experience in personal injury law. Previously she was a partner of a regional firm in the Home Counties.