Ex-judge to investigate Sussex church abuse 'failings'

Baroness Elizabeth Butler-Sloss Baroness Elizabeth Butler-Sloss has a reputation for a no-nonsense approach

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A former senior judge is to investigate how two vicars were allowed to work at East Sussex churches following serious sex abuse allegations.

Roy Cotton worked as a priest in Brede, near Rye, in the 1990s despite being convicted of a sexual offence in 1954.

Collin Pritchard served as the vicar of St Barnabas, Bexhill, until 2007 after being arrested over sex abuse claims.

Baroness Elizabeth Butler-Sloss has been appointed by the Diocese of Chichester to carry out the review.

The retired senior judge, who is a church-going Anglican, was thrust into the public eye in the late 1980s during the Cleveland child abuse inquiry which resulted in the Children Act of 1989.

BBC South East Home Affairs Correspondent Colin Campbell said: "Her primary role will be to assess the evidential value and conclusions of the confidential Meakings report - a report into safeguarding failures surrounding Roy Cotton which the church has kept under wraps.

"The new review will also though look at how the church has managed or dealt with allegations of abuse and how the victims of Roy Cotton have been supported by the church."

Collin Pritchard Collin Pritchard was sentenced to five years in prison for abusing two boys

In 2008 Pritchard pleaded guilty to sexually abusing two boys in the 1970s and 1980s and was jailed for five years.

The offences took place while he was parish priest at St Andrew's Church in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire.

The court heard that Cotton had been involved in the offences but died in 2006, two weeks before Pritchard was arrested.

A spokeswoman for the Diocese of Chichester said: "The review aims to ensure that the Diocese addresses the need to secure the highest standards of safeguarding within the scope of the Diocesan policy, including the role of the recently re-constituted Safeguarding Group."

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