Former Archdeacon of Portsmouth suspended from office over ‘safeguarding failures’ allegations

File photo dated 19/01/14 of Queen Elizabeth II, alongside the Bishop of Lincoln Christopher Lowson. Picture: Chris Radburn/PA Wire
File photo dated 19/01/14 of Queen Elizabeth II, alongside the Bishop of Lincoln Christopher Lowson. Picture: Chris Radburn/PA Wire

The former Archdeacon of Portsmouth has said he is ‘bewildered’ after he was suspended from office as the Bishop of Lincoln following alleged failures to adequately safeguard children and vulnerable people.

Archbishop of Canterbury the Most Rev Justin Welby said his suspension of Bishop Christopher Lowson was a 'neutral act', but added: '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.'

The Venerable Christopher Lowson, Archdeacon of Portsdown, at the Holocaust Memorial Day service at St Faith's Church in Havant in 2001. Picture: Malcolm Wells

The Venerable Christopher Lowson, Archdeacon of Portsdown, at the Holocaust Memorial Day service at St Faith's Church in Havant in 2001. Picture: Malcolm Wells

Bishop Lowson was Archdeacon of Portsmouth before the area was split into Meon and Portsdown. He remained Archdeacon of Portsdown until 2006.

The Archbishop stressed that there had been no allegation that Bishop Lowson has committed abuse of a child or vulnerable adult.

In a statement, he said: 'Following information provided by the police, I have suspended the Bishop of Lincoln Christopher Lowson from office, having obtained the consent of the Bishops of Birmingham and Worcester (the two longest serving bishops in the Province of Canterbury).'

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.'

The Bishop of Lincoln said in a statement issued by the Church of England: 'I am bewildered by the suspension and will fully cooperate in this matter.

'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.'

Archbishop Welby said the Bishop of Grimsby the Rt Rev David Court will take on leadership of the diocese.

Last month, a BBC Panorama investigation found that clergy and staff from the Lincoln Diocese were referred to police in 2015 after church leaders had allegedly 'turned a blind eye' to claims of child abuse.

Lincolnshire Police and the Lincoln Diocese investigated 25 people over alleged abuse from a list of 53 names which were passed to officers, with three cases leading to convictions.

The programme said some of the names could have been referred years earlier as part of the Church of England's national Past Cases Review, which examined tens of thousands of church records in 2008 and 2009 to discover whether abuse cases had slipped through the net.

The programme also claimed two former Lincoln Diocese bishops were made aware of abuse concerns at the time but failed to act.